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Welcome to the BOMB.

The Blog Of the "Mother" of Bandit.
Bandit is my Hairless Chinese Crested--he's the "normal" one. I, on the other hand, am unrepentantly "pet-crazy." You know the type--the spinster who lives in the haunted house three blocks over with 72 cats...okay, so I don't have 72 cats, and my house isn't haunted--but my dogs wardrobe is better than mine! Need I say more? :~)
I've never been consistant at journaling, so the timing of my blogs will be sporadic at best. I just hope they are as entertaining to you as they are to me; however, be forewarned: Most of my blogs will be about The BaldOne. In spite of his Don King "do," I think he's just as cute as any of the Brothers B!
Now, if I can just remember not to get him wet--or feed him after midnight...

About Me

My photo
My bags are packed and I'm always ready to seek out an adventure with Bandit and Moggy in tow. Bandit is my thirteen year old Chinese Crested, who I frequently call The Bald One or The BaldOne Boy (like he was one of the Baldwin Brothers). Moggy’s full name is Pip-Moggy. He’s my two year old gansta-resuce kitty. I couldn’t decide between Pip (which are the spots on die and domino tiles) and Moggy (or Moggie when I mistakenly thought he was a she), so I combined the two. Moggy refers to the British term for "cat of unknown parentage .” So in essence, I have an almost bald dog, and I’ve named my cat “Spot.”

Fun Stuff (I'm doing now or have done)

  • Artistic Attempts weekly (alternating between Painting With A Twist, That Art Place, and Peniot's Palette).
  • Bunko with the Belton Bunko Babes monthly.
  • Participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.
  • Spades and Liverpool Rummy with the Spadetts weekly.
  • The Mighty Texas Dog Walk, Austin (fund raiser for Service Dogs, Inc--they train shelter dogs to be Service Dogs, then give them free of charge to people with disabilities.)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Listen Up!

During Church the rain picked up a little bit and several people that went to early service were caught without their umbrellas as they left.  One such middle aged couple parked near me.  They walked quickly to their truck and the guy did the right thing and opened her door before going around and getting in on his side. It didn't  cost him a thing. It didn't make him any wetter, and it didn't make her any dryer. It was barely a minor inconvenience for him; however, it spoke VOLUMES.  It was a simple, thoughtful, gesture of love, respect, and appreciation. 

Listen up guys:  THAT'S what women want. 

He was parked near me and when I passed his truck on the way to mine, I tapped on his window. When he rolled it down, I told him he was a good man and his Mama taught him right.  His wife smiled and agreed. I hope she thanked him for his small act of kindness before I spoke to him. We take each other for granted far too often. 

Could she have opened her own door?  Absolutely. But if she had, she would have deprived him the pleasure of being her hero. It's how guys tell someone they love them. 

Listen up girls:  THAT'S what "Keepers" want--to protect you and be appreciated. 

I'm extremely independent and I usually reach for the door before the guy does.  I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself.  But in doing so I deprive the guy of what HE wants--to be the care taker, the provider, the protector, the hero. 

Listen up ME:  it's not a sign of weakness to allow others to be kind or to lend a helping hand. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

That's How We Roll--Parade Style

Today there was a cute little family of three enjoying the car parade from their own private viewing stand (the corner counter of  In-N-Out  Burgers in Cedar Park).  They caught me off guard, but I recovered my manners and managed to smile and nod at them as I passed by--but, shockingly, I failed to think of showing off Bandit until I was rounding the corner. (I say shockingly because I LOVE to show The BaldOne Boy off every chance I get.) I didn't think it was safe to back up, so I did the unthinkable--I rolled through the drive-thru again! (For anyone unfamiliar with the In-N-Out Drive-thru, it's notoriously long--in southern California last summer I waited at least half and hour--the line was backed up into the street for a block--and it was 10pm!  I couldn't imagine a lunch-time rush.)   

When I told the little girl standing outside to take the orders of those of us not dinning in, what I was up to, she thought I was the one being sweet. 

The boy at the pay window gave me a thumbs up after he verified I was the "roll-through."  And the girl at the pick-up window had a second cup of ice ready for me. I guess she didn't get the message, or maybe she thought I needed more ice. 

As I waited to inch forward, I had plenty of time to contemplate my actions. I began to wonder if my little Family would still be there. And then I started thinking how presumptuous I was--they may not be dog-people. Or they might not be interested in seeing a dog as unique as Bandit. What would they think? Would they even still be there?! Why didn't I think to ask Order Taker Girl if she could get a message to them to wait until the I arrived (without ruining my surprise for them.) 

As they came into view they smiled and waved. Then they laughed as their faces registered recognition. I motioned for them to wait, then called Bandit to the front seat with me. The look of surprize on the little boys face was followed by pure joy as he bounced up and down in his seat. His reaction made the wait worth it.  He was truly appreciative. His Mother mouthed "Thank You" to me and even the diners sitting behind them joined in the waving. 

Everyone loves a parade--especially me when I get to roll in it! 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Lazy Day Nap

Mama and I were driving somewhere. Actually, Mama was driving. I was along for the ride.

What a ride it was. We started out on some unknown mountain road with the ocean to our right, far below us. It reminded me of the California Coast Highway--breathtaking views, water crashing on rocky outcroppings, horsetail waterfalls from cliffs pooling in hidden coves, cows moseying alongside the cars, brilliantly colored flowers swaying in the constant breeze as it blew over everything. It was beautiful.  The beauty turned potentially deadly in the blink of an eye.

I'm not quite sure how she did it, but as we turned a sharp corner high up on a mountain she drove us over the water, which, as dreams can do, turned from the ocean into a lake in the blink of an eye. As we left the cliff road and hung over the air I wondered how long it would be before we would plummet to a watery death.

However, we did not plummet, and unlike Wiley E. Coyote, we did not peddle air in one place either. We moved forward, but I was too nervous to enjoy the flight. When she finally banked left I was relieved to see a road.

Until I realized the road was a work zone--and it was not your normal deserted work zone with a scattering of dormant equipment. It was a heavily populated work zone that was actively being worked. I hoped Mama would be able to safely land.

We came in so low for the landing, I could reach out and touch the tops of the yellow work trucks. I could, but I didn't. My hands were preoccupied with clutching the dash. The queasy factor in my stomach rose with every foot we descended. I closed my eyes tightly seconds before we touched down. I wasn't sure we would clear the last truck.

When I opened my eyes, as if by magic, I was transported back to the beach. Thus time it was the sugar-white sand  beaches of my growing-up years in northwest Florida.

The beach was deserted and I was shooting a you tube video featuring a bald, bare-chested dark-skinned man who resembled Mr. Clean.  Earring and all.

He was lying on his stomach on a vividly colored Mexican blanket. His muscled upper torso visible as he raised up on his elbows and forearms. His  trusty black lab, Buddy, was curled next to him. I called, "Cut!" Then the voice-over said, "They came from everywhere," and by movie-dream magic, scores of dogs bounded from the crashing waves and descended upon the now blanket-filled beach. The dogs represented every breed, color, and disposition.

A few romped and played as they splashed to the beach.  Eventually each highly trained dog made his or her way to their appointed blanket.

All except one.

I awoke from my nap calling in vain to the errant dog.

I'll give you one guess what his name was...

Friday, February 13, 2015

Mr. Arthur and The Sisters Alieve

This morning I awoke much stiffer than usual. I silently reviewed what I had for dinner last night. Not noticing anything other than caffeine that should effect Ol’ Mister Arthur, I wondered if I had drank too much of my favorite caramel-colored elixir. 

Dismayed, that I may have realized my DDP limit, I pain-stakingly made my way to Arthur’s nemesis:  The Sisters Alieve.  Since I had visited the Twins before retiring last night, it was too soon to renew our acquaintance this morning—a morning I desperately needed to visit the Twins.  However, my liver dictated I would have to limit my visit to the remaining third Sister. 
Walking across the room, I stumbled over Moggy, deep in cat-and-mouse play with the largest, most brilliant horse fly I’ve ever seen. I briefly wondered that our brief warm-spell had been enough time for this creature to grow so large and vivid. Aren’t they usually dormant during the winter months? Or maybe they migrate south like the Mexican Freetail Bats of Austin?  It was more than my mind could handle so early in the morning.  Oh, but the blue—the blue truly was a beautiful electric blue—not the iridescent blue flies frequently sport.  This blue was more like…oh, what is it?…it’s on the tip of my tongue…I know I’ve seen it just recently…my mind is such a fuddle in the morning hours I’m surprised I can think straight about anything…aha!…realization hit me—it was the electric blue color most resembling the gel-cap—

O! M! Gosh! The cat was playing with my Alieve from the night before. 

That was when I remembered:   I had taken two out of the bottle and then, looking at the remaining sip of the lemonade I had bought earlier in the day, and the half a swallow of the DDP I brought home from dinner, I had wondered which one I should finish off first. 
Relief washed over me as it finally dawned on me—I had never taken the alieve last night—so now I could take two! 

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Technology has not been my friend tonight.

I returned to the VA to complete an application I've been attempting to complete off and on for several months. It's the basic application the VA uses for all RN positions. The form  itself is easy enough, but when I go to save it, something goes wrong. Every. Single. Time. It's very frustrating. As if that wasn't enough, all the supporting forms have links that are broken.

Tonight is the closing date for my supervisors old job (she's been promoted).  I don't really want her job--I just don't like people that are clueless to what I do attempting to supervise me. The deadline was 11:59 and it was almost 10pm.  

The last time I attempted to complete the form  I saved it to my computer. That way, I reasoned, I would always have the basic application.

Except I received a new work computer earlier this week. But--I managed to save my files into a folder, and the  application was in it.  For once something techy was going right.

I spoke too soon.

After tweaking the application, it said I could add my signature. I used my iPhone as a touch pad.  The signature workered!  Except the "save" button wasn't there. So I read some more and they said another option was to send the signature by email. So I tried that option.

It wasn't my signature. But it was one the program "authenticated" and assigned to me.  Whatever.  It was getting late.  So I used the pseudo-signature and attempted to download the form. I was taken instead to a site where I have to PAY to download it!   I'm a cheapskate so I said "no way."

I redid the application yet again.  This time, since it's on my computer, I made a copy so I can sign the hard copy and Fax it--a less than ideal option, but I'm running put of time.

A message flashed across my screen--my computer was in the process of shutting down for maintenance. Ugggggghhhhh.

I attempted to call a Notary friend.  I was pretty sure she's used a late night fax before. Unfortunately there was  no answer. She was probably sound asleep.

By this time the computer was back up and I had less than two hours. I briefly wondered if the deadline was on central time.

Finally, I have hard copies of the application, several other forms, my last personnel action and performance evaluations, a cover sheet, my updated resume, and a couple of other forms.  I'll just sign the hard copies, save them to my desktop, and fax it all in a neat little packet.

Except now the  Fax is not working.

So I tried the one in the ICU. It was a different kind of fax.  One no one was familiar with how to work it.

I returned to my office to make a few calls in a vain attempt to locate a FAX that was open.  I went by the police.  They recommended the AOD.  The AOD suggested the ER. At 10:36pm I FAXEd from the ER but the fax machine did not give me any conformation that it was successful or not. At that point I no longer cared. I was sick of the attempt.

Just in case, I called several 24-hour stores that might have copy/Fax services. None did.  At least not at 10:45pm. But one I little girl said to "try the store in the strip mall, that's next to the store, that was the Halloween store." On my way home I drove up 31st street in search of the store. All the copy places were understandably closed. I even drove by a couple of Bail Bonds places in downtown Belton.  They were closed as well. I'm kind of glad they were closed because I realized I had left the packet in my desk.

Then I realized I was hungry. The first place I went to was having computer issues (it's not just me) and wasn't taking orders.

I was successful in placing an order at the second place--after sitting at the red light for over 5 minutes--during which time four cars had come up behind me. I couldn't chance running the overlong red light and one of the cars being a cop. So I sat and waited. It was about par for the course.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Diet Dr Pepper Crisis

It had the potential of becoming a crisis of monumental proportion.
I was almost out of Diet Dr Pepper.   I had a few swallows left in my cup, but they wouldn’t last the night, so I stopped at Cefco.  I’m a regular at all the late night convenience store and fast-food drive-thrus.  I usually rotate stores and drive thrus, so no one will know the extent of my DDP addiction. However, since I had purchased the last DDP at the Cefco the night before, I returned.  The DDP stock would be replenished and therefore fresher.  So went my rationale. As I licked my lips in anticipation of an icy cold, DDP I froze.

The row was still empty.

While inconvenient—I could barely classify it as only a small problem. A problem easily remedied by simply driving down the street to Smith Brothers—where I purchased their last DDP.  Is there a DDP shortage?  This actually could become a small problem.  But then I remembered I had seen plenty of DDP at both WalMart and H.E.B. (our grocery store) earlier in the week. It would be a little less convenient to drive there for DDPs, but it would not be the end of the world—and definitely was not crisis worthy. Not yet anyway.
The crisis arose around 3am when I finished off the few remaining DDP swallows in my cup and I attempted to open the new bottle. Between the arthritis in my hands and the cap not being properly serrated, I could not get the cap off.  It wouldn’t even budge.  I was close to tears, and jonesin' in a bad way.  It was the middle of the night and I couldn’t go back to the home of a friend who has a really helpful bottle opening tool—the kind of tool that can assist in twisting off the cap of a soda bottle. I had already checked both WalMart and H.E.B.  and neither had a duplicate of her bottle opener.  

I needed something to hold the cap tight enough to apply a twisting motion. My search for the pliers was fruitless. I seriously considered trying to open the bottle with my teeth; but the initial attempt, along with a remembrance of the money I spent on dental last year, caused me to stop that silly notion after two half-hearted attempts—one on each side of my mouth.  A couple of hot tears spilled over my lower lashes and burned a path down my cheeks. The last time I was unable to open a bottle late at night I had marched back into the store and had one of the baggers open my drink for me. The bagger had commiserated with me and confided that she frequently opened soda bottles for her Grandmother.  Her Grandmother!  Since I had good luck the last time I could not open a bottle, I seriously considered dressing and returning to the convenience store—I even knew how it would play out this time.

I would stumble into the Cefco, bleary-eyed, hair tangled, the night air cool on my tear-stained face, my hands jittery and barely able to hold the DDP bottle out to the clerk. I would be wearing either the first jeans and t-shirt my hands came across, or if I was daring enough I would forgo dressing and just don my zebra print robe (all the drive-thrus in town have seen my robe). My speech, depending on how badly I needed the DDP fix when I finally arrived,  would alternate between demanding and incomprehensible blubbering.  The dialogue would go something like this:
“My hands aren’t working and I can’t open this bottle.  Please open it for me.” I would implore the clerk in a pitiful whinny voice as I held the bottle of magic elixir out in unsteady hands. My eyes aglitter in fevered anticipation.
“Weren’t you in here earlier?” he would ask frowning as a look of recognition stole over his face.

“Yes.  It was shift change, but I didn’t realize you saw me. Can you open this bottle?” I would thrust the bottle into his face as my hands shook uncontrollably.
“I noticed you because you didn’t purchase anything from me tonight.” His accusation would hang in the air.  The heads of three customers would suddenly appear as the curious would peer over the displays at  us.

“That’s correct. I bought your last DDP the night before.”  I would calmly say as I threw the unspoken accusation back in his face. You didn’t do your job and restock the empty shelf. My stomach would begin churning, caussing me to wonder if I would need to make a mad dash to their bathroom.
“So…where’d ya get this bottle?” He’d toss the unopened bottle back and forth in his hands like a juggler.  I would see the bubbles forming and rising to the top. My breathing would become rapid and shallow and I would lunge for the bottle as he feigned a drop.  

I’ll have to be careful when I open the bottle. Otherwise precious DDP might spew forth and be wasted. “Down the street at Smith Brothers,” I would mumble as I lowered my eyes, no longer able to challenge him. I would be at his mercy—and he would know it. He would revel in the knowledge of his newfound power and lord it over me.
“Our competitor?!” the look of incredulousness that stole over his face would mock me. But he would also experience a small measure of respect.  The girls got balls.

“Yes.” My mumbled whisper would go unheard as the tinkling bell attached to the door would announce the arrival of a fourth customer.  The customer tending the rotating hotdogs would grab the newcomer and whisper in his ear, “shsssh!” An admonition the newcomer would follow.  The cool breeze would ruffle the day-old newspapers as the door closed once again.
The clerk  would pretend to consider my plea. He might even toy with me and make me think I had a shot at actually getting him to open the bottle for me.   After a few seconds, that would crawl by at the lightning speed of oil paint drying on canvas, he would finally say, “I can’t open this bottle.”

His response would arouse the caring nurse that dwells within and I would ask him “Do you have arthritis too?  You’re much too young.” I commiserate and compare notes on pain relief methods and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory meds that actually work.
“No." his derisive laugh would echo and bounce off the walls of the Cefco.  "I don’t have arthritis. I’m just not authorized—“

“Not authorized?!  What?!”  The customers would pop open a bag of chips and mindlessly munch as I exclaimed in disbelief.
“Yeah, it’s in our Sellers Agreement.” The clerk would reply sarcasticly as a sly, knowing smile would creep onto his face. He would savor this moment.  

I won’t start a fight, but I also won’t run from one either. Not since Mike K. hit me on top of the head with a wooden yo-yo when we were in the 4th grade.  I had been sitting on the school bus waiting to go home, minding my own business, when Mike walked past me and, for no reason, other than being a bully; he hit me on the top of the head with his yo-yo. The blow produced a painful headache and hot tears of frustration.  I didn't strike back...not at first. I waited until we got off the bus, and as it pulled away, I slapped Mike.  He responded with an upper-cut to my chin that made me taste blood and temporary loss of vision.  I swung out blindly and caugh air. He boxed my ear. My vision returnedas bright shooting stars and my ears were ringing. He laughed. It was the wrong thing to do.  I returned the blow with a right-cross of my own. It connected; however, it was woefully ineffective. I’ve never had good upper body strength. But my kick?  My kick to his groin was lethal.  Mike cried like a baby and he left me alone after that.

I’ve never been one to allow anyone to mess with me. I wasn't going to start tonight. Shaking my head, I cleared my memories of a fight long past as if they were cobwebs being swet from a long-forgoten corner.   “Quit yankin’ my chain and open the bottle before I lose my temper!”

“I can’t. I’m not—“
“—authorized. Yeah, I heard.”  I would realize the strong-arm tactic might not work.  Mama always said you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.  I would wonder if Donnie could be bought.  “Tell you what…” I would say conspiratorially, “…it should be jsus about time for your break...”
“…yeah….”  Frowning, his voice would waiver with uncertainty, not sure where our conversation was heading.

“What if I hire your services?” The onlookers would nudge each other and nod. Great plan!
“I’m not that kind of guy, Ma’am!” the clerk would feign indignation.

“Not those services you pipsqueak!”  I would lose my temper at his denseness.
“Uh Ma’am,”  the third customer, a day laborer with a hot dog on the verge of dehydration, that he had doctored with copious amounts of yellow mustard, floresent green sweet pickle relish, and onions, shuffling his feet in the loosely formed line behind me would say. “If you’re trying to get him to help you, it probably isn't a good idea to call him a name.”

“Who asked you?! This is my pseudo-dream. Why are you even in it? Why are any of you in it? Be gone!”
“I was going to offer to assis—“

The pseudo-customers disappeared in a pouf as I impatiently banished them with a flick of my wrist.  I would then turn to the clerk with a smile on my face as I searched for a way to connect with him. Engage him.  Get him to invest in helping me.  “Now…Donnie is it?” I would say as I read his nametag, “ What a lovely name. Did you know one of my heart throbs when I was growing up was Donny Osmond?”

“He was—and Barry Manalow too. ” A sappy look would come over my face as I sighed and remembered the wonderful years of listening to Donnie and Barry  on the radio, saving babysitting money and my allowance until I had enough to purchase an album (real vinyl!), and the countless Saturday mornings that I sat glued to the TV, all activities on hold as I waited to see if either one of them would be on American Band Stand.

“Uh….Ma’am?...Ma’am?”   Donnie would become concerned as he realized although I remained in his store, I was in my own little world.
“Humm?” I’d give myself a mental shake and return to the present, and the dilemma at hand. “Oh, right.  Will you please open the bottle, Donnie.”

“But Ma’am—“
“Yeah I know, ‘You aren’t authorized’.”  I’d recap. No pun intended. Well, maybe a little one.

“Yes Ma’am. I'd like to help, but I can't.”

“But Donnie, you know I come in here just about every night to get a nice cold DDP.”
“Yes Ma’am. You're one of my regulars.” Donnie would nod his head in agreement.

“And you want me to continue to purchase my DDPs from you don’t you?”
“Yes Ma’am. I do.”

“Well, Donnie that’s not going to happen if you don’t help a girl out here.”
“Girl? What girl?” Donnie would look to the doorway to see if the cute blonde was returning to pay for the bag of chips she and the other banished customers had eaten.

“It’s an expression Donnie. It’s an expression.”  Shaking my head in exasperation, I would change tactics. “You said you'd like to help. Were you ever a Boy Scout, Donnie?”
“No Ma’am.”

“Pity…Well, they are known the world-over for helping LOLs.”
“Laughing Out Louds?!”

“No, Donnie. The original LOLs.  I used to call Little Old Ladies LOLs way back in the day—a long time before texting decided to steal my acronym.”
“Wow. That would’ve been, like, a loooooong time ago….right?”

“Yeah, Donnie it was a long time ago—but not that long ago. Stay with me here.”   I would snap my fingers for emphasis.
“Yes Ma’am.”

“Now where was I?

“Oh yes. Thank you Donnie.”
“You’re welcome, Ma’am.”

“The Boy Scouts are famous the world-over for helping LOLs—and I’m a LOL.”  I would smile and look expectantly at Donnie as I waited for him to make the connection.
“Yeah, but….I already told you I wasn’t a Boy Scout.”

“That’s the beauty of this pseudo-dream Donnie—I have the authority to make you an HBS!”
“An HBS? Really?!”

I would nod. "Yes!"
The look on Donnie’s face would soon cloud over, and then he would ask, “But Ma’am.  What’s an HBS?”

“An HBS is an Honorary Boy Scout, Donnie!  Don’t you want to become an HBS?”  I would smile my most engaging smile and look to him with eyes shining in anticipation.  "It's within reach, Donnie!"
“That does seem like a really nice honor.”

“Oh Donnie, it is!  It is! You’d be the envy of all your co-workers.” I would whisper this on an outgoing breath just loud enough for Donnie to have to incline his head toward me in order to hear this promise of respect.
“It would be nice to have people look up to me.”  Donnie would say dreamily.

“Not only that, your customers would adore you.” I would draw him in closer.
“They would? How do you know?”

Because I would adore you and I’m one of your customers!”  I would exclaim jubilantly.
“Yeah, you are aren't you?  But ...but not tonight you weren’t.”  The dull look would come back to Donnie’s eyes as he remembered seeing me leave his store empty-handed a few hours before.

I would lose patience with Donnie and I would grab him by the smock.  I would bring his face down close to mine and deliver the ultimatum. “Donnie?.....Look at me!  I came to you first. But your shelf was empty. Do you know why your shelf was empty?”
He would shake his head wide-eyed, unable to speak. Perhaps he would be a little frightened.

“Your shelf was empty because I bought your last DDP last night. Normally, that’s not a problem. But for some reason I can’t fathom, the DDP shelf is still empty over 24-hours later!  That means one of two things:  You’ve restocked and had a run on DDPs—which would indicate that you need more than one thin line of DDPs so you need to increase your order, or you and your fellow coworkers haven’t have restocked in over 24-hours. Either way, your lack of DDPs is costing the owner—your employer—money......Donnie, do you want me to call your employer and tell him that not only are you slacking on the job, you are not helping the paying LOLs that enter his store with a simple request; and therefore, you Donnie, are costing him business? Do you really want me to tell him that?!"
Donnie would look at me like I was way past crazy—and he’d be right.

“Well? Do you?” I would shake Donnie.

“Alright then,” I would release the smock and smooth it out as I told him, “You have a choice to make, Donnie. You can overlook the tiny little fact that this bottle did not come from your store, and you can become a HBS by helping out this LOL…or I can make a phone call. What’ll it be, Donnie?”
And Donnie would make his choice.

Luckily, it didn’t play out that way.  After the failed plier search and reconsidering the wisdom of using my expensively fixed teeth,  I finally remembered my gripper disc magnetically held to the refrigerator door. Unlike psuedo-Donnie, it was waiting to be of assistance.  Several attempts failed. But I finally got a good grip, twisted, and heard the seal pop.  Thank goodness!  I won’t have to go visit Donnie at the Cefco and cause a scene.  I took a deep swig of now room temp DDP and sighed contentedly. The jonesin’ dissipated immediately. Calmness and a feeling of well-being flowed over me. All was right with the world.  I drifted off to sleep almost immediately.

And then my alarm rang.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I'm a Cheat

According to Forbes online contributor, Jeff Bercovici, I'm a cheat.

I probably need to back up and explain—I don't really know Jeff, or anyone else at Forbes—at least not personally. And  Jeff hasn’t specifically called me  a cheat. However, I know from what he’s posted, he does not think I play fair. I've started doing something I said I'd never do:  playing online games with strangers.  Actually, one particular online game:  Words With Friends.  So far, the computer has matched me up with four different opponents. I admit I’m competitive, and I will do just about anything within reason to win, but I don’t knowingly break rules; therefore, I maintain that I do not cheat.  Apparently, even though I don't break any rules, Jeff thinks the way I play is wrong.  He’s not the only one that doesn’t like the way I play.

Web Comic, Penny Arcade, has indicated my WWF play is the Brute Force Method.   Evidentially, she too feels my play is less than honorable. I admit I am pretty forceful—but a brute?  Really?! I don’t think so.  When I think of a brute, I immediately think of the role Andre the Giant played in the cult classic, The Princess Bride.  His character, Fezzik, is a tender hearted giant of a man, but because of his size, Fezzik is made to perform menial tasks requiring brute strength. When his employer Vizzini dies, Fezzik is forced to go to work for the government and in stereotypical ever-so-ordinary-inside-the-box government thinking, he is placed on The Brute Squad.  Many of the gags in TPB are stereotypical; however, they work because of an infusion of  dry wit and bright comedic humor. Like Fezzik  I'm really just a big ole’ softie at heart.  Those that peel away my gruff exterior find a tender, sensitive sweetheart—until we sit down to a game—then I play cut throat. Unless it’s a partner game, my motto is every man, woman, or child for their self.  
Back to the haters:  In addition to Jeff and Penny,  humorist John Hodgman shares the same low opinion of my way of word play.  John  says people who "spam the engine"—that would be the Search Engine—play deplorably.  Although he does not make this comment as a compliment, I rather like the image it brings to mind.  In fact, Spamming the Engine gives me great pleasure. Almost as much pleasure as when I force GPS Girl to frantically call out  "Recalculating! Recalculating!" in an ever increasing high pitched tone which culminates in a sigh of resignation just prior to telling me when I’ve finished and have returned to the route she has highlighted for me, she will speak to me again. Okay, so maybe she doesn’t say those exact words, but her meaning clearly is that of:   I’m through with you until you come around to my way of thinking.  I take wrong turns just so I can hear her desperately scramble to make me come in line with her directions. When she realizes she has failed and she sighs, my laughter is maniacal.  I am perversely pleased to confound, flabbergast, and otherwise discombobulate the very same technology that all too frequently confounds, flabbergasts, and discombobulates me.  I enjoy being the frustrater ever so much more than being the frustrated.

But not everyone takes an adverse position on the way I play. The Bettner brothers, WWF creators Paul and David, say my style of play is Plugging. I would agree. The Brothers Bettner also feel Plugging is a perfectly acceptable way to play. I would agree again.  When they built the game, they purposefully did not make Plugging  illegal. In fact, they think Plugging is a great strategy. They are obviously highly intelligent, and I like the way they think and developed this game.   Interestingly, one brothers plugs and the other brother does not.  As with every great life dilemma, it all boils down to personal choice.
Cheating, Brute Forcing, Spamming the Engine, or the perfectly legal strategy of Plugging—whatever you call it, within the confines of  Words With Friends,  it is the act of submitting random combinations of letters, without penalty,  until an acceptable word presents itself.  It’s legal. So I’m not a cheat. Or a Brute. I just Spam technology, albeit forcefully.

Another word of clarification:  While it is true I am playing four online strangers, none of them are the people listed above—each of the previous comments and beliefs attributed to people other than myself were taken from an online Forbes article written by Jeff Bercovici. None of the negative comments were in any way directed to me personally.  
I’m not sure how my actual computer-assigned opponents feel about the way I win—well, mostly win. I have easily defeated two opponents every game we’ve played. The third opponent is on a different schedule than I am on, so there are hours of down time between each play. It’s excruciatingly slower than molasses. I won the first game but they have just pulled ahead of me in the second game. I’ll let you know the outcome when this particular board is completed—probably sometime next month. The final opponent blows me out of the water every single game. He doubles and triples my score.  Every. Single. Play.  This losing thing is a new sensation to me and I’m not liking it. However, I do love a challenge, so I hope I’m not too boring a player for him.  I really want to continue playing him.  At least until I win.  Or don’t lose by a trillion points.  He’s by far my favorite opponent.

BTW, my favorite brother?  Dave, The Plugger.

(Update:  After posting this, I dove into a losing tailspin.  I am now losing in three of the four games, and my lead in the fourth is by a cats whisker.)