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#MicroblogMondays 88: The Object of the Game

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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There’s a new game for the PS4 which sort of blew my mind.  It’s called Everything, and every object in the game is playable.  Meaning, you can make anything in the game the player character for the game.

Pause for a second and think about that.  Because in your life, YOU are the player character, and everything around you is seen in reference to you.  A mug is helpful to you because you can fill it with coffee that you will drink.  And the shower head is helpful to you because you can turn it on and bathe.

But what about the world from the point of view of the mug?  To the mug, you’re just a big pair of lips that touch it while it’s trying to go about its non-existence.  To the shower head, you’re just this lump standing underneath it that it’s pelting with water.

The idea that everything is playable means that you can experience everything’s point of view.  And therefore everything is of equal importance.  And nothing is the star of the show.

If you could really see the world through anything or anyone’s eyes what would you choose?

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored posts.


May 2, 2016   16 Comments

1 Simple Thing You Can Do to Strengthen Your Blog

I wrote a post over on BlogHer about 5 lessons you can take away from long-writing bloggers, and while I think all the lessons are worth reading, I’ll pique your interest with a single idea that you can put into action today:

Separate your posts into two categories: current events and evergreen topics.

Current events are things happening in your life or the larger world right now.  It makes no sense to post them two weeks from now because you need the support today.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense to post about Christmas menus in August, and once NIAW is gone, the #StartAsking posts will drop off.  Those are all current events.

Evergreen topics are posts you could write that aren’t really connected to time.  You could post them this week or you could post them next week, and it really makes no difference.  Like this post.  I mean, I’m posting it today because the post went up on BlogHer, but if that post went up in October, this post would have gone up in October, too.  Responses to articles (unless they’re currently a hot topic), ideas you want to explore, moments you’ve noticed: Those are all evergreen posts.

So this is how I explained it on BlogHer:

High-traffic bloggers tend to mix up their content, balancing evergreen topics with current events. Why do they do this? For lasting Google juice coupled with traffic surges.

Evergreen topics are ones that you put up and they keep getting hits long into the future. They aren’t time-sensitive — you could run them on any day of any month. They’re the things people Google for all the time: How to Make Your Own Baby Food, 5 Reasons You Need to Stop Playing Candy Crush, 10 Things You Need to Know About Hulu.

Current events are whatever is on peoples’ minds today. Look at what is trending on Twitter. That is what people want to know about today. Or talk about today. Those posts tend to temporarily spike your traffic and then fizzle out after the moment is over. And that’s fine: They engaged people when you needed them to engage people.

Do you do this?  Are you going to start now?

You can read the other 4 lessons in the main post.

May 1, 2016   6 Comments

593rd Friday Blog Roundup

I recently received an email from an airline, let’s call it Flights-R-Us.  So Flights-R-Us tells me that I need to use my frequent flyer reward points or lose them.  I go on the site and see that I can either apply those points toward a future flight or use them on hotels, restaurants, or gift cards.  I decide to make things simple and get myself a gift card.

I click on the item and it tells me that in order to use my rewards, I also need to open a special Flights-R-Us credit card.  This doesn’t sound quite right in terms of how loyalty reward programs usually work, so I call Flights-R-Us and explain the conundrum to the representative on the phone.

Flights-R-Us: The numbers you see on the site are the number of points you’ll receive if you buy that item.

Mel: But I’m on your reward website.  There are no prices.  There are only points.

Flights-R-Us: That’s right.

Mel: You’re going to tell me that if I click on the… let’s say… Kindle Paperwhite, I will pay an undisclosed amount and receive 80,000 points in return?

Flights-R-Us: Yes.

Mel: And where do I use all these points I’m collecting as I purchase items from your reward program website?

Flights-R-Us: You use them on the website.

Mel: Okay, so that’s what I want to do.  I have all these points, I would like to use the points.

Flights-R-Us: So click on the Kindle Paperwhite to use the points.

Mel: So I use points to get the Kindle Paperwhite?

Flights-R-Us: No, you get points by buying the Kindle Paperwhite.

Mel: For an undisclosed amount since there are no dollar amounts listed anywhere on the site.

Flights-R-Us: Yes, that is correct.

I ended up calling a different number and speaking to a different representative who informed me that my first understanding was correct.  I could not use my frequent flyer rewards on anything other than flights unless I opened up a credit card.  Since this exchange (1) inspired no confidence in the airline itself and (2) sounded like a complete scam on the part of the airline, I decided to let the frequent flyer miles expire.  If brands wonder why customers don’t have loyalty in the future, this exchange above is their answer.

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Stop procrastinating.  Go make your backups.  Don’t have regrets.

Seriously.  Stop what you’re doing for a moment.  It will take you fifteen minutes, tops.  But you will have peace of mind for days and days.  It’s the gift to yourself that keeps on giving.

As always, add any new thoughts to the Friday Backup post and peruse new comments in order to find out about methods, plug-ins, and devices that help you quickly back up your data and accounts.

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And now the blogs…

But first, second helpings of the posts that appeared in the open comment thread last week.  In order to read the description before clicking over, please return to the open thread:

Okay, now my choices this week.

IF Pomegranate has a post pointing out our similarities and differences.  She asks: “Anyone else feel like even though you are surrounded (virtually) by people who are going through IF in their own way, you are still alone in this?”  She has a unique situation, and she is looking to connect with someone who has a similar story.  Click over and see if you connect.

Torthúil has a great story about what can happen when you silence your inner monologue and just show up.  Go over and read what happens when your anxiety and dread doesn’t come true.

My Path to Mommyhood has a great post about turning 40, which seems to be a bit of a theme this week (see below).  She writes: “Things turned out differently than I originally thought they would. But…they turned out more beautifully than I could have ever imagined, even with all the twists and turns and pain and losses and setbacks we never could have seen coming. Maybe in some ways BECAUSE of those twisty parts.”  It’s about honouring where you are now rather than focusing on where you wish you would be.

On that note, Anabegins also has a post about turning 40.  Her point about age being tied to hope blew my mind.  She explains this so much better on the post (hence the ellipses removing all of the brilliant points you need to click over and read), but she states, “I’ve been mourning the loss of possibility that comes with aging; and since possibility amounts to hope, I think its worth mourning, at least in a controlled and limited fashion … I don’t daydream anymore  — I’ve tried — there just isn’t anything big and GOOD* left that isn’t already set … If I think too hard about the future I realize that people I love may be gone, my children will be TEENAGE BOYS, my joints will be creakier & my hair grayer and oh my god this is terrifying STOP. Life, and circumstance, and common sense have taken all the FUN out of daydreaming.”  Go over and read it.

Inconceivable has a post tying organizing into tidying the mind after infertility and loss.  It is a very moving post that will stick with you for a long time, forcing to think about the thoughts you’re keeping.

Lastly, CD1 Again returns with an update after 3 years.  I love the magic of the rss feed which makes posts on dormant blogs pop up as if no time has passed.  It’s a post that is both proof to the desire to keep hearing each other’s stories, as well as the fact that life goes on.  She writes that she is going to repurpose the space, and I, for one, am happy to hear those words.

The roundup to the Roundup: Bizarre reward programs.  Your weekly backup nudge.  And lots of great posts to read.  So what did you find this week?  Please use a permalink to the blog post (written between April 22nd and April 29th) and not the blog’s main url. Not understanding why I’m asking you what you found this week?  Read the original open thread post here.

April 29, 2016   12 Comments

Vote

The twins have come with me to vote in every election since they were born.  When they were newborns, just out of the NICU, I put them in a double baby carrier and walked down to the polling place feeling like an opossum.  When they were toddlers, they ran in two different directions as I tried to quickly enter my choices.  When they were young kids, they shouted out my voting choices to everyone else in the room.  When they entered preschool, they entertained the other voters standing in line, bouncing up and down while they clapped and shouted, “My mommy is an Obama-mama-mama-mama!”  And in elementary school, they thoughtfully discussed marriage rights with other voters as we waited in line.

Throughout it all, the one constant was that I had them press the button for all of the major offices: president, senator, congressperson, governor.  (And, later on when they had more patience, all the offices up for election.)  One child would push the button, and I would erase the vote.  Then the other child would push the button, and I would erase the vote.  And finally I would push the button and keep the vote.  Even when they were newborns, I touched their tiny fingers with their translucent nails to the machine interface.  For 11 years, this is the way we’ve always voted — primary or general election — each of us able to say we participated in the experience.

And then Maryland went to a paper ballot this year.

When I heard about it, I started fretting.  What were we going to do?  I couldn’t have them fill in my card and erase it.  You had to use ink or my vote wouldn’t be counted at all.  Everyone hold the pen at the same time?

We finally decided to split the tic-tac-sized bubble into thirds, each of us filling in a tiny sliver of the ballot.  We practiced a few times at home.  Once we trusted that no one was going to fill in more than their share of the bubble, we went to the polling place and continuously passed the pen so we could each vote for each person.  This year, we aligned to all want the same person for each office.  Let’s see how many elections we’re able to do this.

I’ve always taken them with me because I want to lead by example and hopefully have them follow suit later in life.  I want them to vote.  I don’t want them to apathetically throw up their hands and say, “Everyone sucks, there’s no point in voting.”  I don’t want them to toss away this yearly experience as if it’s an empty candy bar wrapper.  This is their right, and there are so many people who don’t have this right.  People who live in this country and are affected by the laws but can’t have their voice heard.

If they don’t like the laws, I want the twins to change the lawmakers.  Better yet, I want them to be the lawmakers or help the lawmakers or report on the lawmakers.  I want them to be involved with life; to tangle with it, not just allow it to flow passed them.

People, get out there and vote this fall.  Go vote this spring if your primary is still coming up in May or June, but, moreover, get yourself into a voting booth for the general election.  Make sure your voice is heard.

April 27, 2016   11 Comments

Skull Ring

The ChickieNob and I had a Girl Scout trip on the Eastern shore, so we decided to go a bit early and spend the afternoon together at a nearby beach.  I had called ahead to find out if our favourite arcade would be open, and while I was told that it would be, when we got to the beach, the metal garage door was pulled over the entrance.  Closed.

We walked down the boardwalk to a different arcade, a much smaller one with nary a classic game in sight.  The ChickieNob was bummed and didn’t really want to follow my suggestion that we play a few rounds of ski ball, but she half-heartedly fed a quarter into the slot and started rolling the balls towards the hoops.  At the end of the game, two tickets slid out of her machine.

“What is this?” she asked, ripping off the tickets.

“You get tickets when you play, and then you can trade in the tickets at that desk and get a prize.”

She wandered over to the desk and saw that they had brightly-coloured metal rings.  She really wanted one, but they were 60 tickets each.  That’s fine, we have all afternoon.

I should add at this point that we are pretty much the only people in the arcade with the exception of the clearly stoned teenage boy who was manning the space.  He was listening to our exchange since he had nothing else to do.

So we played side-by-side, cheering each other on, and we were almost at the necessary 60 tickets when the ChickieNob shyly informed me that what she really wanted was a skull ring.  But that was 110 tickets, an enormous number considering how long it had taken us to get to 60.  But I promised her that we could do it.  We just had to play harder, play faster, perhaps not cheer and dance for five minutes every time we got anything over 20 points in a roll.

So we worked hard and finally had 112 tickets.  Brilliant.  We turned them over to the stoned boy who fed them into a machine.  “You know,” he said, “each ticket is actually worth 5 points, so you had enough tickets about a half hour ago.  In fact, you have over 500 points right now, which means you can get… 5 SKULL RINGS!!!”

Yes, he shouted it and pumped his fist.

And we stared at him.

Okay.  So this was great.  We could get two matching skull rings.  The skull rings were awesome, and we clinked them together and said to each other “memento mori” (from A Series of Unfortunate Events, and not, let’s say, the Hermits of Saint Paul of France).  The stoned boy pulled out a calculator, and announced, “YOU STILL HAVE 300 POINTS!!!”

Yes, he once again excitedly shouted it, as if our name had been called on the Price is Right and he wanted to psyche us up as we made our way down the carpeted steps.

Okay.  So she picked out a few things for the Wolvog and Josh and one of her friends.  Every time, he would punch the number into the calculator and excitedly tell us how many more points we had.  You know what?  We learned that it is really hard to use up 300+ points.  We ended up with a spider ring, little plastic poppers, a handful of marbles.  Finally, I told the boy that we had to give up, and he gave me our last points in arcade stickers.

The skull ring is pretty sweet.  Totally worth the gargantuan effort to reach the requisite number of tickets.  Sure, we went over that amount 5-fold and we had to engage in an extended conversation with the stoned boy about the DC Universe, the polar bear challenge, and his home town.  But we learned an important lesson about team work and having a goal and celebrating the small milestones along the way.

Cheers.

skull ring

April 26, 2016   8 Comments

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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