Sunday, April 15, 2018

Emotional Bubble Dome, Minecraft Haiku

Every year around this time, at least one of my posts references The Big Stressful Yearly Event that I run every year around this time. The last two years, just before the BSYE, some physical calamity or another has befallen me—last year, I was death sick and only got through emceeing it thanks to half a bottle of Dayquil and an Echinacea drip, and the year before I threw my back out so badly that I could barely stand up. This year, I am determined not to get sick or otherwise damage a major body part, and as such, I have been trying to keep my stress levels down….waaaaay, waaay down. I’ve limited my exposure to the news, run through my checklists repeatedly, told myself it’s all about it having fun and that no one will notice small mistakes, and visualized the venue looking   beautiful, complete with joyful, happy guests. This weekend, I stayed cloistered indoors to avoid any incidental exposure to roving cold germs, listened to the “Spa Heaven” Pandora station, and played hours of Minecraft. In other words, I’ve enclosed myself in an emotional bubble dome, with only the whack of a pick ax and the whistle of a pan flute for company. I like it here, and I don’t want to leave.

They say write what you know, so here for your poetic pleasure are some Minecraft-based haikus. That’s about all I can manage for a post today, after all, I am a delicate little hot house flower this week and must not strain myself in any way. Enjoy!


Peacefully fishing   
Suddenly, an explosion!
Damnable Creeper.


Weird priest villagers
Trade for ghastly zombie flesh
Precious emeralds.


Hark! Sunset is nigh
Yet I am far from my bed.
Run from the spider!


So much cobblestone
So little room in my trunk.
Time for a new house!


In deep underground
I seek the rarest diamonds  
Damn! Death by lava.

Also, here is an unrelated funny video (to make up for the lack of actual post content,) which brilliantly summarizes how I feel about the current state of tech start-ups:


--Kristen McHenry

Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Grand Unified Theory of Craft-Based Niceness, Also, Am I Too Stupid for Video Games?

I would like to address the video game question first. Having grown weary of the gloom, snow, and general hardscrabble-ness of Skyrim’s ancient Norway, I decided to temporarily trade it in for the gloom, snow and general hardscrabble-ness of 1850’s London when the game “Thief” recently went on sale through Steam. And boy, do I feel stupid. It took me a full hour to play through Thief’s twenty-minute tutorial. Then, I fumbled halfway through the first chapter before going back to replay the entire tutorial again, replete with a furrowed brow and an online keyboard-control guide at the ready. I’m still not fully in the swing of it. I keep accidentally shooting off water arrows when I don’t need to and getting caught doing perfectly innocent things like sneaking into a jewelry store after hours (just in case I wanted to find something nice for my lady-friend, okay? Geez. It doesn’t all have to be nefarious.) The whole venture made me wonder if age, stress, and overindulgence in processed meat products has at last made me too stupid for video games. Could it be that I have finally risen to level of my own incompetence and am now doomed to play only Bejeweled and Mahjong? I suppose it’s no matter. My general incompetence aside, “Thief” is actually a very decent game. It’s got great voice acting, beautiful visuals, and a solid story line, although you wouldn’t know it from the whiny, teeth-gnashing reviews dashed off by the die-hard classic “Thief” fans who reviled it on Steam for no good reason. I’ve decided gamers are crazy, myself included, although I still don’t think I’m fully qualified to call myself a “gamer.” Also, Mr. Typist totally Game-Mansplained me when he pointed out that the reason I got caught by the guards after-hours in the jewelry store was because I was “running around in there like a bull on crack.” Phtt. Whatever, dude. Just go back to your Minecraft and leave me alone.

That indulgence out of the way, I think I have found the key to world peace and the end of war: Crafting! I got some much-overdue and much-needed “chick time” with my dear friend Frankie last week, during which we fully nerded-out on all things crafty, including her new, gloriously-addicting Addi Express knitting machine, for which I practically ignored her in favor of during my entire visit. (Sorry, Frankie! You know I love you, but…damn…that Addi knitting machine is quite the mistress.) Frankie was very understanding, though, and let me leave with a random, round, sock-like concoction which I have no idea what to do with, but which I am inordinately proud of having made with my own two hands on her machine. Then, I came home and found a Facebook invite to a punch-rug hobby group from Frankie. And, OMG—these are the nicest, sweetest, and most supportive people I have ever encountered. I don’t know what their political affiliation is, nor do I care (having no absolutely no political affiliation of my own anymore anyway), and I don’t care about their world view or who they voted for. I just know that they are all great fans of the delicate art of punch-rug making, and super-supportive. Every photo of a work-in-progress gets hundreds of likes, and all anyone wants to talk about is the intricacies of yarn and cloth and needle calibration. It’s glorious. It makes me think that if people could only strive to bond over shared joys rather than shared grievances, the world would become a better place very quickly. So please, everyone—reach out to those who share your hobbyist joys, and let that be your guide to friendship, bonding, and the oncoming of world peace. 

--Kristen McHenry

Saturday, March 31, 2018

This is Why I Don’t Leave the House, Latent Competitiveness, Tomb Raider Movie Nod

To my legions of fans who were waiting with baited breath for my weekly post last Sunday: I apologize. It turned out I had to leave the house for something besides work, an endeavor that is becoming more and more daunting with each passing year. You see, I was on the hook to attend what turned out to be a sort of fancy-ish auction to raise money for our neighborhood senior center, a cause I fully endorse. However, I was woefully ill-prepared for all of the dolling and gussying and wrangling of apparel that it required. Here is a recap of my afternoon:

1.       Craftily Google Senior Center Fundraiser to see if they had any sneak previews of the auction items.
2.      Realize with a start that this is a fancy event, as everyone in the photos of past fundraisers is decked out in finery (well, Seattle decked-out, but still.)
3.      Frantically dig through back of closet in the hopes that there is some long-forgotten dress languishing in there which will be suitable.
4.      Unearth a purple knit dress that I had forgotten I owned, and sniff it for passible-ness.
5.      Shake out dress and spray with Febreeze.
6.      Realize with dismay that the reason I had forgotten about said dress was because it clings to every bulge and makes me look like a refrigerator box.
7.      Open undie drawer in hopes of finding a pair of Spanx and some hose sans runs.
8.     Jackpot! Miraculously, one pair of Spanx and one pair of pristine un-run hose are buried in the dark crevices of the drawer.
9.      Test my one pair of dress shoes to make sure my feet haven’t gotten too fat for them since I last wore them a year ago.
10.  Shower, shave, and painstakingly blow-dry my hair. Get super-sweaty blow-drying, and remember that this is why I never blow-dry my hair.
11.   Cram my unruly flesh into the Spanx, yank on the hose, wrestle the dress over my head, lint-roll said dress, and cake on enough eyeliner to disguise my puffy, flaky, allergy-swollen eyes.
12.  Realize with mounting frustration that my only dressy coat is missing a button. Wheedle Mr. Typist into sewing a new one on for me by pleading getting-ready exhaustion.
13.  Dig out nice red leather purse, dump everything into it, and totter off to the Sons of Norway Hall. Realize halfway there that I’ve walked one block and my toes are already hurting. Come to Buddhist-like acceptance that it’s going to be a long night.

And that is why there was no blog post last Sunday.

One interesting thing that this whole Auction situation brought to light is that I have a latent competitive streak. There was an “Old-Timey Train Robbery” basket in the auction that had a few bottles of wine and some chocolate gold coins, but the thing that I was most interested in was its hand-painted model train car, which I really, really wanted to win for Mr. Typist. I didn’t think anyone would be that interested in the basket, but low and behold, the minute I put in my bid, some interloper, some madman, if you will, snuck up on my heels and tried to outbid me! I don’t know who this person thought he or she was, but I was not having it. Every twenty minutes, I found myself muscling my way over to the basket and placing yet another bid. And every time, someone else outbid me. However, they underestimated my tenacity. I waited until exactly two minutes before the auction closed, sidled up to the basket, and snuck my final bid in just under the gate! It was the most excitement I’ve had in months, which is pretty sad when you think about it. Anyway, it was all worth it to see Mr. Typist’s face light up with joy when I brought it home.

Speaking of the leaving the house, I actually did leave a few weeks ago to do something I haven’t done in years—see a movie in its premiere week. I saw a matinee of the new Tomb Raider movie, because, come on, it’s Tomb Raider and I’m not going to not see it. I won’t do a full review here, but suffice to say, the movie hit just the right note, and I fully approve of the new Tomb Raider actress, Alicia Vikander. I loved Angelina Jolie in the old franchise too, but Alicia Vikander is a breath of fresh air. She’s physically right for the role and she brings it all—acting chops, grace, a sense of humor, and just the right touch of vulnerability. It was good old-fashioned fun, complete with an interesting  villain who was just a miserable as he was evil. I recommend it. The only thing that made me sad was that I was all excited about a new Tomb Raider game coming out, and it turns out that it’s not going to be ready until at least September. September!!! That is so forever-taking! What am going to do with myself while I’m not leaving the house?


--Kristen McHenry