Happy Friday – August 17 Edition

It’s Friday! Here’s the list of lucious links for the week, starting off with this recipe for Greek Shrimp Saganaki. My coworker posted it in our cooking slack channel and it’s all my mouth can think about.

Now that your appetite is wet, feast on this: 10 minute salmon sandwiches. Seafood for an appetizer and dessert? I’ll eat it.

I think I must be hungry and that’s why I just want to post recipe links, so let’s move* along. My fiancé and I are obsessed with watching House Hunters. We know it’s fake and we love to criticize the couples. We even made up a drinking game, which I should post sometime. I’ve always wondered what it would be like for the realtors on the show.

I’m still obsessed with Civ 6 and excited to hear about upcoming Tropico 6. I used to play the original, but then never tried any of the sequels. Is it time? It doesn’t look like it will be out for a while so I may be done with my Civ 6 playing by then.

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Prettier than the original.

Speaking of islands, I think I found my dream job. Now to get my family on board.

If you’re a parent, your kids play Fortnite, and you have and Android phone, watch out: there’s malware on Android. It’s disguised as the mobile version of the game.

Cover photo by Mohamed Thasneem on Unsplash. I wish I could spend my weekend there!

* I know, I am the best at dad jokes.

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Video Game Lessons Learned

#VideoGameLessonsLearned is trending on twitter. Since it’s twitter, some of them are repugnant. But some of them are awesome. Here are a few of my favorites:

Last time my fiancé and I were playing WoW, he asked me, “Why am I burning?”

Treasure for sure.

See, video games can be inspirational.

For real life these are called “tutorials” or “instructions” and they’re magic: you read them and gain knowledge.

Here’s one for parents:

The only saved games I have from when I was a kid are on a CD that requires a Mac from the 90s to run. I think I’m safe on this one.

Finally, mine:

If video games taught me anything, it’s that you should stuff your pack with everything you can until you become encumbered. Even then, you might need that old coffee maker. Better hold onto it and walk slowly.

What have you learned from video games?

Cover image from The Longest Journey, a game in my top 5.

Battle for Azeroth First Impressions

The fiancé and I logged in to play Battle For Azeroth after the toddler went to bed. I have a rather strict sleep schedule: I need to be ready to go to sleep by 11pm and I need to read for at least a half hour before that. There’s no skipping reading. If I don’t read, I can’t fall asleep. Thus we only played for an hour and a half.

On Alliance, Battle for Azeroth takes you to Kul Tiras’s capital city, Boralus. Boralus has a sea port vibe, and there’s a lot of stairs and levels. Because the minimap doesn’t tell you what level a quest item is on, we kept getting lost. Much of our hour and a half was spent wandering around Boralus like lost puppies trying to find quest-relatded NPCs. Fiancé has a moderately decent sense of direction,  If we can’t fly, can we at least have a flat capitol city?

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I dig the vibe.

We decided to head for Stormsong Valley first because it looked the prettiest. I mean, look at it!

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After about ten minutes getting into the quest chain there, it was time for me to get ready for bed. I’ve always been a slow leveler, and I don’t think the latest expansion will be any different. With the way the quests have been so far, I think it will be an enjoyable ride. I’m interested in seeing it from the Horde side.

All images from Blizzard Entertainment. If you want me to take them down, Bliz, just ask nicely.

 

Sims Features I Want in Real Life

Money Cheat

You create your Sim family and purchase them a one-bedroom, poorly decorated house. You give them entry level jobs. They had to work, do their jobs, get promotions, and eventually you can update the house…

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In my dream world, you’d type “motherlode” up into the ether and a cat would come by with $50k for you.

Yeah, right. You create your family and without hesitation, pop in the money cheat. Now they’re rich and you move them to the biggest and create them the your amazing fancy dream house. I can’t imagine playing The Sims without the money cheat. Sure, I’ve played some families with limited means and tried out the legacy challenge, but it’s way more fun building houses with indoor swimming pools.

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You think Sims get to live in the downtown penthouse with basketball court thanks to hard work and determination? Yeah, right!

Then I send them to work anyway because they can only swim in their indoor pool so many times before it gets boring.

Instant Employment

You want a job? Just go on your computer and get an entry level job in the field of your choice. Your requirements for a promotion are clearly laid out. No applications and cover letters, no “it’s who you know, not what you know”, and no office politics.

Bonehilda

Bonehilda is a skeletal butler that your sims could purchase and the only buyable item in the game that stood out to me when . She came with expansion packs for Sims 1 and 3. She was the best thing in the Sims 3 Supernatural pack, which I otherwise found rather mediocre. Unlike human butlers, she doesn’t have regular human needs. If you buy multiple Bonehildas, they’ll team up and work together. If they run out of things to do, they’ll train your dog. How awesome is that?

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There’s one other buyable item: I remember Sims 3 had a teleporter. Since teleportation is my hypothetical superpower of choice, I’d take the device.

Click to Redecorate

Tired of blue walls? Click! Now they’re purple! Drag and drop a giant painting on the wall. Replace your sofa with just a few mouse clicks. Even if you pay for painting, furniture delivery, and art installation in real life, you still have to wait for the professionals. In the Sims, you can try a different decor style every day.

Change your Look

In real life if you decide you want to loose weight, you usually have to follow a diet and exercise plan. It’s hard. It takes a long time. It’s difficult to maintain. In the Sims, all you have to do is exercise a few times and boom, you’ve lost weight. If you want to gain weight, that’s easy, too. Just eat when you’re already full a couple times and off you go.

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3 hours on the rock climbing treadmill and you’re good to go!

Changing your hair is easier, too. A major hair change in real life requires a trip to the salon. In the Sims, you just need a trip to your nearest mirror.

Talk to Strangers

Making friends as a grown up in real life is hard. Making friends in the Sims is easy. Step 1, go to a public location and chat up some strangers. They won’t find this strange at all. They’ll be happy to stand and talk to you until one of you needs to use the bathroom. Step two, tell a lot of jokes. Funny interactions boost relationships. You can go from complete strangers to friends in one or two days. Then you have to maintain the friendship, which is a lot more like real life: spending time with the other person.

Sim life would be pretty awesome. But it would also take you about a half hour to go to the bathroom. It’s way easier to set fires in your kitchen. Ghosts and vampires are real. I like being able to cook more than 5-20 different dishes. I’ll take real life for now, but if someone could come up with a way that I can redecorate my house by clicking and dragging my mouse, that would be awesome. I’d have my art hanging on the walls instead of just leaning up against them.

Question: If you grew and butchered a cow plant, would the meat be vegetarian?

Cover image from the Sims 4 Outdoor Retreat pack. I want to go to there.

 

Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing – August 12 Edition

Unlike last week, this has been a busy week with work, kid stuff, and other responsibilities. I’m impressed that I managed to get some reading and gaming in this week. Notice that I didn’t mention writing.

Reading

I noticed Naomi Novik had a new book out. I’d loved Uprooted and Spinning Silver appeared to be in the same vein. I put Song of Achilles on hold to read it.

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Spinning Silver has a slower pace than Uprooted but I’m still enjoying it. I love Miryam. This is good, because I put a book about sled dogs on hold to read Song of Achilles and I put down Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers on hold to read that. I want to finish Starship Troopers someday but I’ll probably have to at least skim what I already read because I can’t remember what happened. The sled dog book belongs to a friend; I’m sure she’d like it back if she hasn’t forgotten it exists.

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“Hey Alli. Finish the sled dogs book!” Photo by Jérémy Stenuit on Unsplash.

Playing

The fiancé and I have been playing World of Warcraft together. We did the new Siege of Lordaeron content last night, but his computer crashed during it and he had to reboot. I’m finding warrior-ing difficult because you can’t just stand there and blast things. You have to move around and my character constantly yells at me that we don’t have a target. Bosses are fun, but the lesser mobs die too quickly when 7 other players are fighting them.

Otherwise it’s been Civ 6 all the time. I finished (lost) my game as Gilgamesh and started a new one as Tomyris. I wanted to play more aggressively.

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I’m about to kick Arabia’s butt. Until Egypt and Russia declare war on me, too.

Now all the Civs think I’m a warmonger and dislike me, except for Brazil. I managed to sweet talk Brazil into a friendship. Next I want to start a long game with a huge map and only 3 other civilizations.

Writing

Even my blogging suffered from my business last week. This week may be busy as well, with work, physical therapy, a meetup, and wedding plans. With writing blog posts, I can write a little and feel accomplished. The novel is harder.

Doing

Saturday morning two of my cousins took our engagement photos. They were more family photos since we included Indy. He did not want to cooperate. He’d only met the cousins a few times and I don’t think he remembered them. He’s been in a defiant stage and wants to say no to everything. I think we got a few good ones. When we were done, after Indy avoided my cousins the whole time, Indy decided he wanted to go home with them. He held their hands out to their cars. Okay, kid.

Much of Spinning Silver takes place in a frozen world, similar to the one in the cover photo. Photo by Jaanus Jagomägi on Unsplash.

 

Happy Friday – August 10 Edition

This is going to be a short one. It has been a week. My son’s daycare is closing, meaning most of my free time has been spent scrambling to find a new one. Work’s been extra busy for both me and my fiancé, and all I want to do is play Civ 6.

The Best Ted Talks for Moms Parents – I updated the title, because why just moms? I like TED talks because they’re short little bursts of information. You don’t need 40 minutes to set aside to watch. You don’t even need to watch; I often just listen. Perfect for moms parents.

Everyone is talking about the Space Force logo options. Personally I like the “Mars Awaits” one because I’d like to get off this planet, now.

Blogging with voice recording software sounds like a neat idea but I’m not sure how much I’d like to turn a giant blob of text into something coherent. Maybe it would work for novel writing!

Thank goodness it’s Friday.

Mars: I want to go to there. Cover photo by NASA on Unsplash.

What to Do When You Can’t Do Anything

Do you ever feel like you have absolutely no motivation? Do you have the kind of moments where even though you’ve managed to snag a second of free time, you just don’t know what to do with yourself? After becoming a parent, my free time has diminished to nearly nothing. You’d think that when I manage to grab a few minutes, I’d want to do All The Things. Play All The Games. Read All The Books. Get All The Things Done Around The House.

allthethings
This is what you think you’re going to do while waiting for your free time to start. Once it starts, you’ll think, “Nah, I don’t want to do that.” Source

Nope.

Okay, sometimes that’s true. But sometimes I’ll realize I can do whatever I want and nothing sounds appealing. Sometimes all I want to do is sit and play 2048 for the 2049th time even though it’s the most unproductive thing I could do. Because this happens a lot, I’ve developed some coping strategies for what to do when you just can’t do anything.

Do Nothing

Go ahead and do nothing. If this sounds too terrible to fathom, set a timer for 15 minutes and do nothing until the timer goes off. Manoush Zomorodi has a whole book about how being bored helps us come up with great ideas. Remember being bored as a kid? Didn’t it feel terrible at the time? But now it feels like a luxury. Indulge. Let yourself be bored.

Engage in some Self Care

Self care is different for everyone, so don’t take a bubble bath if you don’t like bubble baths. I usually go for a walk, take a hot shower, or cuddle with my cat. Some people enjoy gardening or exercising. Maybe your form of self-care is to scream into a pillow or re-arrange your precious moments figurines. I’m not here to judge.

Get One Tiny Thing Done

Instead of cleaning your whole entire house, find something on your to-do list that’s small and tackle that. Maybe this burst of accomplishment will push you forward into completing more tasks. Maybe it won’t, but at least now your kitchen sink is clean.

If none of those things work, there’s always mobile games and Netflix. Don’t feel guilty. We all need to zone out sometimes.

What do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything?

Cover image: This dog just can’t right now. Photo by Sashank Saye on Unsplash.

About Me and My Writing

I wanted to write a little about myself, in particular, my in-progress writing projects. I’ve been writing fiction since I was a kid. The first story I remember writing was in the style of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, which was called If You Give a Cat a Strawberry. Everything is better with cats.

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My sweet kitties make everything better.

In high school I wrote bad, angst-ridden poetry on index cards and then forced all my friends to read them. I had an online diary back then on diary-x, which burned to ash when the site crashed. In college I learned to write poetry better, and had one published on a literary website. That’s gone, too.

Technical Articles

After college I wrote technical pieces for the blog of whatever company I was working for at the time. The short, technical writing lead me to write for a few larger publications, the highlight being FastCompany. I’d like to do more of this kind of writing in the future.

The Young Adult Novel

Meanwhile, I tried to do Nanowrimo upwards of seven times before finally winning one year with a young adult science fiction novel. I spent the next few years editing the novel until it became a chore. I wanted it to be perfect. I struggled with every word and thought and re-through the plot during my showers. Every time I worked on it, I felt this burden of wanting to scrap and rewrite most of it. This “scrap it” concept battled with strong attachments to my characters and wrestling with how to best present my theme in this sci-fi setting. And the constant wondering how to “up the stakes” in this thing. Finally, I gave myself permission to put it aside and start something new.

Untitled Fiction Novel

I’m not even sure what novel to put this beast into. I call it a “beast” not because I’ve written a lot of words, but because it represents a beast in my mind that needs to get out on paper. When I lived in New York, I worked for a bizarre company. There is more than enough in my memories alone to fill a book, but I’ve been working on putting a fictional narrative together. Revisiting this experience is hard. Not because it was necessarily a bad experience, but that I loved living in New York so much that thinking about it hurts my soul. Sometime I’ll have to revisit my old (paper) journal entries to help me put my memories in order. I want to keep that book, and those feelings, locked up.

New keys, new appliances, new apartment!

A post shared by Alli Rense (@allirense) on

The day I got the keys to my NYC apartment, I took a selfie. Look how happy I was. This is the sort of writing you know you need to do but put off because it hurts.

Would I write more if I had a vintage typewriter? Maybe, but editing would be more difficult. Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.

Voting with Toddlers

I was going to write about Sims features I want brought into real life, but then life happened: emergencies and lunch meetings at work, Indy’s swimming lesson, and voting in the primaries. Instead, here’s a photo of me in my car with a “just voted” sticker.

We decided to bring the toddler voting with us so he sees it as something you always do. He enjoyed the part where you put the ballot into the machine. At the end he decided he did not want to leave the building (city hall) and put up a fuss.

His sticker and my sticker have gone missing. If you have any information on their whereabouts, please contact me immediately.

Reading, Playing, Writing, Doing – August 5 Edition

Here’s a recap of what I’ve been reading, playing, and doing this week! It’s been a fairly low-key week. My fiancé took Indy to his mom’s (Indy’s grandma’s) yesterday morning, so I was able to have some alone time. As an introvert, this is essential, and as a mom, this is rare. It also means more time for reading and gaming!

Reading

song-of-achilles

Our pick for this month for work book club is The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. It tells the story of Greek hero Achilles from the point of view of his partner, Patroclus. Miller doesn’t hesitate to capture how terrible it was for nearly everyone in ancient Greek society, particularly women. My knowledge of Achilles from from the film Troy. I know how the story ends, but I’m engrossed regardless. My coworker liked it so much he’s already read another book by the author plus The Iliad and The Odyssey.

Playing

After a bit of fun playing our low level goblins, my fiancé and I decided to pick something to boost to 110. After all my talk of going Horde, we picked Alliance. He wanted to be a Gnome. He’s a Mage and so I picked a Draenai Warrior. I thought if I could tank we could more easily get into dungeons.

Flash forward to after I confirmed the boost when I remember why I never tanked before. I get lost. The tank always seems to be the person who knows where to go next in a dungeon and I am terrible with directions. I suppose if it’s too terrible I could switch specs or finish leveling something I started way back when. A healer this time.

I spent most of today’s nap time playing Civ 6. I have a special relationship with Civ and Sims games that involves buying the latest version right away, playing it at launch, then initially hating it and wanting to jump back to the previous version. Then I’ll let it be for a while until I get the urge to play again, and at that point I’ll be hooked. Sims 4 has been more difficult and I still miss some of the features from Sims 3, but I’m totally on board with Civ 6. The Civ games are a series I can see myself playing with my kid when he’s older. My latest game has been as Gilgamesh.

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Although, reading Song of Achilles has me wanting to play as Greece. I hardly ever Finish Civ games so I’ll probably start over!

Writing

Last week I wrote a lot of blog posts! I’m sure that will continue this week. Currently bouncing around in my head is a great idea for a fantasy novel, but I’ve been really itching to write a short story. Maybe I could condense the concept into something smaller. Meanwhile my in progress novel remains untouched.

Doing

We tried a new taco place: Stan Diego. It’s a joke, because the town it’s in is called Standale. There is a big orange VW van with surfboards on it inside which I think is supposed to represent San Diego. I’ve been there several times and never saw one. Indoor vehicles aside, the chicken taco was phenomenal.

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I normally don’t take pictures inside restaurants (unless it’s I’m instagramming my food, obviously). This time I felt the need to send this to my friend who lives in San (not Stan) Diego.

This morning we rode our bikes to a nearby park which boasts a play area for smaller kids. I found this appealing because I’m always terrified Indy is going to fall off big play equipment. Of course, the first thing he wanted to do was go down the slide in the big kid area. The tall one where the hand rail is higher than his head. He also climbed up the jungle gym, with me right behind.

The bike ride part was genius. It’s easier to get a toddler to leave the playground if he’s going in a bike trailer instead of the car.

What did you read, play, write, or do last week? I need to publish this post now–before my bedtime!