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Help! My Life Has Become an Episode of Star Trek!

1 Dec

In Season 5, Episode 6, of Star Trek: the Next Generation, the crew is attacked by a video game trying to turn the crew into video game zombies. They have the first case I can remember of what the show called, “Virtual Reality Addiction.”

The writers had precognition! I feel at times that I am turning into a zombie addicted to games on my IPhone.   Since I got my IPhone 6, with its bigger screen and better graphics, I find myself playing these games much more often. Yes, I was always a ‘Words with Friends’ addicted person. I had to play it several times a day. But now, I find myself playing Dots and Solitaire and Blitz, when I should be doing something else. I do not even like those games that much!

For example, when I used go to a doctor’s office and knew I have to wait for awhile, I would bring my crocheting and work on my current project. But today, I went to the dentist, and did not bring my crochet bag. Instead, even though there was a sign asking that people turn off their phones, I sat in the waiting room with others playing my games. I was not the only one. There were other phone addicted people on their phones as well!

What was that about? I should have been working on one of my projects. I have a baby blanket that needs to be done!!! The baby was six weeks early, and my blanket is only part way completed. I should have worked a few rows while I waited. But the Phone and the games had me bond in their control!

Then there are my early mornings. When I first get up, I usually watch the news for 30 minutes before I get out of bed. But now, I get up for a minute to get my phone and take it into bed with me while I watch the news. Why?

At least I do not sleep with it like some people do. But I do check my mail first thing in the morning. As I listen to the news, I play games and watch television at the same time. Why?

Then there is the information from my UP. On my phone is an ap that tells how long I slept and how many steps I have taken.   Why do I need to check several times a day. Isn’t once enough. NO!

I have to force myself to put my phone down.   And each time that happens, I flash back the Star Trek episode called “The Game.”   I am there. I could have easily fallen prey to that evil game that controlled the crew members’ minds. This has got to stop!

I never understood my son’s affliction to playing video games whenever he could. He had Nintendo, PlayStation, X Box, hand held video game things! And whenever he was not in school or working on school work, he played games. I could never get into it even though he tried to teach me. I would ask why he was wasting his time. He should be outside running around. It was not that bad as he did do gymnastics and tae kwon do. So he had lots of exercise. But those hours playing games made me crazy.

But now I understand! My I Phone has me cornered and in its control. I would take the games off. But I know I cannot. I force myself NOT to add more aps. They would only take up more of my time. It has to stop! On the few occasions I leave my phone at home, I feel disconnected. I don’t see on my dashboard the words, “connected to phone.” And I worry. What if someone needs me. But before cell phones, I was fine. So I force myself go about my way without a phone for a few hours. And I do survive.

I have to add an another fact to this evil addiction. In the show it was William Riker who brings the game back to the ship. He has visited the planet, “RISA.” This is scary. That is my younger sister’s name.   She has been trying to be in control for over 50 years. But I stay in my role of older sister. Perhaps, however, she has a plot to take over my mind through games.   Wait that sounds paranoid. Those games are getting to me. She cannot be plotting this? Can she?

I do have to wonder sometimes who is in control: me or the games and information on my IPhone?

Is this really a good thing? I know I am not the only one caught up in the game aps. Look at all those little children playing on their own IPads! It could be that we are all inside a Star Trek episode.

Maybe this is an alternate universe? Maybe Data did not destroy the program and it now is putting all of us in the middle of a Star Trek episode.

The Sunday Crossword Puzzle Is a Family Tradition For Some

29 Mar

Puzzle

I never do the Sunday Crossword Puzzle when I am home alone. I do get the Sunday New York Times delivered to my house each week, because I cannot see a life without the large Sunday paper on my driveway. I grew up in a home where the Sunday paper was important. We each would take our sections and sit and read quietly, while my Dad did the puzzle.

Daddy loved to do crossword puzzles. When he was retired, he would start each day with a cup of coffee and the newest puzzle in the newspaper. He usually would use a pencil, but at times Dad used a pen. His ability to solve the puzzle was amazing. In fact I knew after his heart surgery when he was back to himself because he was once more able to complete the puzzle in under hour. For a while, after his open-heart surgery, he struggled.

My Dad had one major competitor for the puzzles, my sister. As she grew up, she wanted to do to the puzzles as well. I think they even bought two Sunday newspapers when my sister was living at home while she attended law school. It alleviated fights as they both could complete these impossible weekly puzzles on their own.

They were not good at sharing the puzzle. This made life more bearable for my Mom.   I am not sure if they competed to see who would complete it first, but it would not surprise me if they did.

I just did not want to get involved in the puzzle battles. I would answer a question about a word, if asked. But usually I stayed out of the way. It could be very intense. And although I was an English major and knew many of the references, I was afraid to get involved. What if I made a mistake? So I just bought my own puzzle books and stayed out of the fray.

When my sister married, she married another crossword puzzle addict. They and their children would sit around on Sunday and read the clues out loud so everyone had a chance to answer. They would also take turns being the one to write down the answers. A new family tradition was born. It was a world of word puzzle cooperation!

My husband was not interested in puzzles. So we never developed the tradition of doing the crossword puzzles together. Whenever my parents came to visit me in Kansas, I would read the section of the newspaper with the puzzle in it first so that when my Dad was ready he could do the puzzle. Sometimes one of my children would sit with him when he worked the puzzle, but it was more of watching than participating. Occasionally, my Dad would ask for help with a word.

I would buy my Dad crossword puzzle books so that he would have something to do when we were having down time. I even purchased him a crossword puzzle mug to use when he visited my family. I still have the mug. Whenever I use it I think of my Dad.

In the Catskills a different crossword puzzle tradition developed. My cousin also loves the Sunday puzzle. Every Sunday friends and cousins gather on his lake front property with the latest puzzle. It is passed around to those interested in working on it. Completing the Sunday Times puzzle is a process of teamwork. Clues are read out loud. Comments are made. The group effort often works.

I enjoy joining in because I like the concept of the crossword puzzle. I took my husband to see the movie, “Wordplay,” about the New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz and a crossword competition. I loved the movie. I enjoyed seeing the joy of the competitors as they did well.

So I had to think, “Why did I never get into crossword puzzles when I love word games so much?” I think it was because doing these puzzles was my Dad’s thing to do. And I would not compete. My sister moved back home after college after developing the love of crosswords while at school. So when she lived at home while attending law school, she and my Dad had to work out a compromise; it was purchasing two papers.

Except for a summer or two, I never lived at home again after college. I went to grad school and married. And the crossword puzzle tradition ended in my home, except when my parents visited. I also think that if online crossword puzzles had existed sooner, I might have been more interested.   With online puzzles, each person can work on their own without interfering with others. But even my sister, who does weekday puzzles online, admits that on Sunday she wants to work on a the paper puzzle.

When I get my Sunday Times. I read it over a two-day period. I save the Book Review and the Sunday Magazine for last. Often reading them on Tuesday. But I have never touched the puzzle. When I am with others, I love working on it. So, perhaps it is time for me to take on this tradition and attempt to complete the Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle. Perhaps I need to develop a new Sunday tradition.

I Love Words With Friends, But What Rules Should be Followed?

4 Jan

I have a passion for words and puzzles. Combining these two makes it clear why I love word games. Like many word enthusiasts, my passion for word games started with Scrabble. This was the only game available when I was a child.

The difficulty was finding an opponent. When an adversary was available, I would play. But it had to be at a home with a board, which made it difficult. At home you have a limited audience.

Then Boggle appeared! I switched because it was much easier to carry the little cube around and I could play anywhere.

I had one friend, in graduate school, who loved Boggle as much as I did. We played whenever we were together and not studying. Sherry and I played hundreds of games of Boggle over the years. When we both lived in the same city, after graduate school, we played whenever we got together. We kept score and were extremely competitive. When she moved out of town and across country, we played whenever they came to visit. But we do not play Boggle anymore, although I still have my cube at home.

Playing word puzzles helped me when I traveled by plane or needed a quiet moment. I had books filled with word games throughout my house. I used these books all the time, working on word and logic puzzles.   I still keep one around for travel. But I no longer have one beside my bed and my chair in the family room. The Internet has overcome the book.

With friends all over the country and the world, I have turned to the Internet for my word games. For me, it seems that “Words with Friends” has won over my heart and my word play time.

I play “Words” with friends and relatives in New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois, Pennslyvania, New York, Texas, Kansas and Missouri. Three of my combatants I know from my childhood in North Bergen. We all went to high school together. Three are college friends. Several are cousins. It is a great way to keep in touch with people I do not see very often. Some I have not seen since we graduated! But with “Words with Friends,” we reconnect.

I also play with friends who live in my community. We do not see each other as much as we play the game. The best part of playing with these friends is we can keep playing even when I am on vacation. This is great as they can update me on what is happening at home.

That chat feature is good for many reasons! Sometimes I use it to complain about my horrible letters. Other times I use it to compliment my opponent on a great move. Whenever someone uses all seven letters, they get a texted congratulatory message! But it is also used to keep up on the news and sometimes just to say hi.

I usually have the maximum number of games going at once. To be honest, when I am not at work, I check my phone several times a day to see if there are any games to play.

But I have some issues. Some concerns I just cannot work out. And I do not want to offend anyone, but I have issues:

For example, when a game ends, who goes first?   Since I play multiple games with many people, I have found that sometimes we both hit rematch. So we start two more games instead of one. Also, I have decided that if I win a game, I will pass the first move on the rematch. But if I lose, I should get to go first. Of course there are two times that does not work. First if I look at my letters and realize I can use all seven to make a word. Then I go no matter what. How can I give up such a good move? Second if I have a hand that contains only vowels. Then I cannot take my turn and I pass.

There is one application of “Words” that really bothers me. I dislike the nudge ability. I love to play. If I am not playing with you there is a reason. I am busy with other things. Nudging me will not make me play faster. I never use that feature with my friends because I figure they are not playing for the same reason. Those who like to play, play when they can. They do not need any pressure.

Then there is the issue of how difficult should I be? How strategic? Should I try to win always? Or should I let someone who does not play as well as I do win sometimes? Just so you know, I always play to win. If the other person wins he or she knows that it was a true win!

“Words” is much more than just being lucky with the letters you get. But, I will tell you that some people are luckier than others. I have a cousin who gets the best letters. When I first started playing with her, I did not get an 8 or 10-point letter for weeks. When I finally won a game, I felt wonderful.   She still wins most of the time, but I am slowly getting more wins.

There is also the strategy. Where you place a word is important. Those triple letter/double letter and triple word/double word scores cannot only help you win, the placement can help your opponent. I try to not set my opponent up for a great score. But sometimes, it is the only place to put a word.

There are also the people who use special applications (aps) that help them figure out the best word in the best place. I do not use any special ‘aps’ when I play, I just used my brain. Part of my reason to play “Words with Friends” is to keep my brain active, using an ‘ap ‘would defeat this goal.  However, stringing some letters together that look like a word sometimes works.  And I have noticed a large number of Yiddish words are accepted on “Words” !

Another issue: when should you resign.   There are times when I know I cannot win. Just recently a friend got two seven-letter words almost back to back. I knew I was doomed, but I kept playing. It was a loss for me, but a really good win for her. I would rather play to the bitter end than resign. I always have hope that perhaps I can pull it off, even if I cannot.

Yes, I love competing via “Words,” but I just want everyone to be following the same rules.