Shower Rush

Why does everyone in the house always want to take their shower at exactly the same time? I really don’t know, but it happens all too often. When you are in the mood to feel that hot pampering spray, someone is singing away, mindless of your needs. Due to the water force and their elevated vocals, they don’t hear you begging them to get on with it, and get out. It may be time to get a new jumbo-size hot water heater, maybe a tankless one so you are not limited in any way.

Hot water is a luxury when you don’t live alone as you can’t control usage. You are at the mercy of other, sometimes thoughtless people, those who like to hog. You can’t really get mad about it. You, yourself, have done it many times. It’s hard to take a quick one after a hard session at the gym. Your muscles need that soothing steam.

So the great shower rush goes on in my house. How about yours? It could be a matter of some roommates who live by their own clocks or a single family of five to seven people. That’s all it takes to clog the line outside the door. Wouldn’t it be nice to take yours when you want and be assured of plenty of hot water? Yes, it would.

I have great roommates so I don’t want to complain. They really are oblivious about the size of the tank because there isn’t one that they can see. They think hot water goes on forever in any case. As with many rental properties, we certainly don’t have the best water heater or shower fixtures. For some reason I often get the short end of the liquid stick. Should I forego? Should I take mine at the gym in less than perfect conditions? No. I will wait until the heating system is cranking out the requisite gallons that my aching back needs.

The joys of communal living are many. There is always someone to talk to, to have a drink or meal with, and to share the ups and downs of life. The younger you are, the more I think you need this, so I am told. Later on when everyone goes solo or gets married, the salad days of youth are over. So I am enjoying the camaraderie while it lasts and should shut up about the showers already.

If you haven’t experienced this kind of life, you are truly missing out. Not on the showers, I mean, but on the friendships that develop and can last a lifetime. They say that your buddies at my age are closer to you than those you have later in life. It takes time and effort to spark and grow connections, and people get busy and preoccupied. They have too many obligations at work or with their families to stop and become someone’s friend.

So given all this verbiage, a kind of paean to youthful friendship, I will now stop griping about showers and take my turn like everyone else. The benefits of good relationships far outweigh the few drawbacks, don’t you think?

Computers at Sea

While I love games of any sort, video or otherwise, I also like gadgets, electronic or otherwise. I get interested when I hear about something new that I have not previously encountered. One such device is the best fish finder and/or depth finder (you can get combo units). I am not a fisherman or surely I would have discovered these sooner, but I am a fan of human invention and those items that help us conquer the world.

I especially like practically at a good price—something that has merit beyond amusement. I first took a long, hard look as a gift idea for a sports fishing aficionado, but it wasn’t long before I wanted to find out more. How does the thing work? What is it made of? Who thought of it and when?

What I found was a slew of options at many price points, right up to thousands of dollars. The entire world of the sea would be exposed with that model! These varied gauges are little wonders that see beneath the briny and expose its edible wealth. I was quite intrigued and I didn’t mind getting pulled away from my usual game pursuits. I think that computerization is the draw here. Related items seem to trigger something in my brain and gets it in gear so to speak.

So…back to the fish and depth finder reviews. Staying generic because I am no expert, I see an LCD color screen the size of a mini TV or smart phone. I spy a digital clock and a swivel mount. So far so good. I go on to spot a cable of sorts for a power connection and something called a transducer. The reviews boast of “great functionality” and “a must for every boat.” Mmm, I will have to get one. Someone said you have to have it to get “the big one.” Who wouldn’t want that!

Wow. You can even get them at a discount on Amazon. Trying to stay in the realm, I read on. Don’t get depth finders confused with stud sensors for construction. We are talking about deep sea gear so you know what is under your water craft. We are talking about a high speed processor, side imaging, internal GPS, an I-pilot link, and Internet compatibility. You can seem some models from ten feet away. You will definitely find your way back to the dock, not to mention all those schools of fish that are hiding. It works on rivers too to navigate the rocks and shoals. I really must get one.

I find that I seem to be touting the fish and depth finder. How odd. It’s a mighty little piece of electronics. You just have to decide on the size of your color display and the maximum depth you need—and how much is in your wallet. Get technical support and a warranty if you can. Everything breaks down eventually. Meanwhile, take it aboard and let it do its work. I have to get one.

Fun Whilst Cleaning

Who would think that cleaning as a human activity could ever be any fun? Urgh give me a game any day. Most of us would not. We spend hours, days, months at various routine tasks that begin again almost immediately after they are completed. Take dusting. You do it nicely with a soft cloth misted with a magnetic-like solution. You are careful and diligent not to knock anything over and hope you put everything back in its rightful place. We all hate when things look awry and we spend way too much time adjusting later to satisfy our finicky eyes.

Okay. Then we can admire the shiny debris-free surfaces, because in maybe one or two days, the nasty film will be back, beginning for removal. There is something irritating about this ubiquitous coating. Dust reflects light so you can’t miss it. If you neglect it, it just accumulates until your allergies rebel. (Anyone who has seen a spot missed for a month or more knows how thick it can get). Or your computer dies a dusty death. You grab the cloth and swirl away, hoping for a miracle this time that you can wait at least a week.

Then there is the bathroom—I don’t have to tell you about the toilet. Let’s not even talk about thick. You can wipe the sink down after every use so it isn’t much of a chore, but that porcelain throne is another story. You scrub and scour, buy self-cleaning stuff that doesn’t work as well as your own hands, and the brown taint is still there a week later. You get out the bleach and tolerate the smell. It sounds like you know what you are doing. Again, no fun.

I could go on about the refrigerator, the stove, the pantry, the filthy garage, the messy bedroom shelves, the cluttered closets….You simply cannot do it all and it is aggravating to accept that fact. Cleaning chores, while ordinary, are taxing, time consuming, and daunting. Don’t ever try oven cleaner without the windows open. Also, learn to tolerate mold and mildew in food. As you remove it from the kitchen, you may get a whiff.

That being said, and I will not change my view of this, there is actually a time to enjoy cleaning. I am not telling tales. Have you ever brandished one of the top rated pressure washers? If not, take heed. This is some real fun. I used one to clean the driveway and car, and believe me, I enjoyed it! Fun whilst cleaning—yes, it is possible. This gadget is a real tech marvel with adjustable nozzle for a variety or sprays, brush attachments, and an extendable hose.

What’s more it is light-weight and portable so in no way does carrying one do much to muscle fatigue. It isn’t for all tasks, but getting to wield it on cleaning day makes you almost look forward to the drudgery. At least for a few moments, you can pretend you are at play and that the perennial requirements of a clean life are not begging for your attention.

IRL Gamer Health

You can sit for hours playing games until your eyes spin around in your head, your hands tremble, and your back aches. Your mind screams, “stop!” The computer gets fuzzy and in your imagination, it conks out. Enough! Your body is speaking to you about health and mental restoration. The bathroom scale says that a lack of exercise is not doing you any favors as a few pounds have been packed on.

Gamers, take heed. Some advice:

  • Get up and out of your chair, bed, sofa, etc. and move for five minutes every hour.
  • Regularly stretch and circle your neck in both directions to release tension.
  • Go to the gym three times a week ideally for an hour each time.
  • On the other days, take walk breaks.
  • Stand up when you play from time to time.
  • Learn a sport (and not a spectator one).

In other words, don’t be a casualty of your favorite pastime. If you are eating as you indulge, more tips are offered below.

  • Eat regular meals only.
  • If you must snack, eat fruit, raw vegetables (no creamy dips), or nuts (like almonds).
  • Weigh yourself daily and pay attention to the scale. Use a good bathroom scale from a quality brand. Keep a log.
  • Undertake a light diet if you must. Don’t starve or you will soon binge.
  • Learn about nutrition and how many calories a sedentary person needs.
  • Stop being so sedentary.
  • Hide the chips, candy bars, cookies, and crackers. Better yet, don’t buy them.
  • Make it a game if you want – some of the best digital scales on the market have supporting apps for iPhone and Android, like Fitbit.

Following these pointers and more, you will avoid adult onset obesity before it rears its ugly head. You won’t let game playing interfere with hygiene and good health. You can indeed stay fit as a fiddle at the computer or watching any TV screen.

Exercises for the lazy:

  • Sitting on a comfy sofa, circle one foot at a time, ten times each way.
  • Sitting ensconced in a soft club chair, circle your arms and lift them over your head ten times.
  • Do leg lifts at your desk. Sit for a time with knees drawn up to your chest for a nice spine stretch.
  • Lie on the floor during breaks (and you must take them!) and roll over to each side with legs lying flat to stretch out your back. Repeat five times.
  • Sitting on a flat surface, legs outstretched, bend over and touch your toes. Then stand up and repeat. You should reach the floor with your fingertips.
  • Scrunch your neck up and down as you play your games, ten times or more. Place your head to one side and pull it gently with one hand. Repeat on the other side. Feel the stretch.
  • Standing, again during a break, bend over to one side slowly, then the other. Repeat five times.

Now don’t you feel great! This won’t burn up the fat, but it will keep you from shrinking your spine and becoming stiff. Eating right and long walks (or gym sessions) are required to keep the scale numbers low. Try to diet until you reach the average zone for your height and age.

There are Virtual Games for Everything

Little kids like to drive cars, trucks, and trains, and they can only do it on a virtual basis when they get bored with the useless mini-sized versions. Forget crashing simulations and scary creatures lurking in the bushes. You want to give them wholesome opportunities. Only too soon they will graduate to war games and killer machines. My niece likes the home arts. Her mom is a great cook, crochets doilies, and sews quilts. Naturally the little miss loves cross stitch games where she can imagine creating her own handiwork without having any skill! Now that’s a weird benefit. In any case, she asked me to find some other sewing games, especially one where she could pretend to operate a machine, just like grandma (who happens to make a lot of her clothes).

There are some minimally exciting dress up games for girls and something called Sewing Shop at Plonga. I also found a Wambie game called Sew Mario that looks like a needlepoint canvas with colored yarns (and some similar ones with Hello Kitty, dogs and teddy bears). Other than this, the best I could do in a flash was find a simulator at a fabric store that taught the basics of sewing. Maybe I will invent a video game that features a super deluxe Brother or Singer sewing machine in neon hues with animated eyes and a talking smile. I would enable the user to make dolls, pillows, clothing, and sleeping bags by pressing buttons. By overcoming certain odds, they would gain points and advance in the project. Little brother might tear up their fabric or grab the scissors and run. The dog could chew the edges of the half-completed item or wrap his bone in it and drag it away. I can call my video Threads or Sew Cool.

I could go on…but back to the simulator. The store has a flat screen upon which they project the Bernina website which is loaded with embedded videos that give the impression of a sewer’s eye view when using their various machines. As you click on buttons, your selected stitches appear and you can play around and adjust length and width, etc. If you spend more time, you can do embroidery in a variety of neat styles. It is an animation, of course, but very effective. This definitely is what I have in mind for kids. It mimics using the foot pedal (I can see little boys accelerating with glee) and reverse button as well (you could go wild with that one).

Boys will certainly prefer a train or racecar (it’s always about speed for the little ruffians), but for the quieter girls, my sewing machine video game will be quite nice. They can sit daintily in their rooms with a friend or two and play sewer mom, after they finished using the EasyBake oven. Ha! There are actually little girls who do not play soccer or soft ball! If they like needlecraft kits, my video will be a winner.

I am looking for help and financial backing for this new video game. My niece is expecting big things as promised. Meanwhile a few more trips to the fabric store are in order.

Yikes! My Embarrassing Body

I thought I would never see the day. My toes look like a creature from a deep, dark, and dangerous lagoon–maybe a critter from outer space and a distant unhealthy planet. They could be from a rotting corpse in a horror movie. No matter. My nasty yellow-black fungus is entrenched and has converted me into a video monster of the worst sort. I never knew that I cared this much about toenails!

How do I know I have it? Just look down and you will see obscured toenails, hidden by a plague of greasy toe fungus. I am told you can’t get rid of it, but I bet that is a big lie. It’s odd how people like to gloat at your misfortune, even in the guise of just kidding you. I know there must be something I can do. I might have to ask Dr. Oz—ha! Doesn’t he have the answer for everything? Maybe his touted cure-everything product of the week will work on this.

Seriously, I see magic wonder lotions and potions by the dozens of every sort on the Internet. They suspiciously promise immediate results for a few bucks plus a lot of shipping. They look “fly by night” and probably smell horribly. No doubt they kill the nail for good along with the fungus. Then there are those web MD people who recommend only a special dermatologist for prescription pills (blood test required) or multiple expensive laser treatments. I’ve even read blogs like that are written by other toenail fungus sufferers who are looking for a cure and want to share their story with others. Got insurance? If so, you can go forward. If not, get out the toe fungus nail lacquer. Your odds of a cure are less, but what choice do you have? You won’t have to die from the dreaded disease!

I might, however, die of embarrassment. I can’t wear socks all the time. I am even just shy about it with myself. Was I unclean? Did I step in something? Did I catch it at the gym? Why, why, why? Yikes. It is all too gross. I see that I am going to spend some significant time researching this problem, or learning to live with it for some time. It’s not like a wart you can simply burn off.

Meanwhile, I have joined the category of undesirables and freaks. Halloween will be easy this year. I just show my feet in flip flops, put on a mask, and I’m ready to scare the world. I don’t think kids get this affliction so I may be obvious and over-aged. But what adult doesn’t like candy and those childhood memories? More than a few of us have been known to sneak about the neighborhood.

So, take heed and avoid this horrid condition if you can. You might get it from soggy feet, so wipe them down after bathing or showering. Don’t let them sweat (get out the sandals) and apply some talc. Now you know you have to air them out for more than just odor! Then if the fungus creeps in, get it before it’s too late and it likes where it lives.

Hardcore Gaming – Playing in the Meat Grinder

There is a very serious and sometimes dark side to gaming, which is hardcore gaming. I am talking about people who are obsessed with competition and playing in tournaments. Basic life functions such as eating and going to the bathroom take second place to sitting in front of a console with the goal of defeating your opponent or beating the high score of the day. There is a never ending number of levels, continued in the next game.

One story of the dark side comes from Taiwan, where a hardcore gamer actually dropped dead after being at his console for 40 consecutive hours without food playing Diablo 3. This is tragic and extreme, but there are hardcore gamers who approach this level of intensity on a regular basis. Some say it approaches addiction but I disagree. If one wants to excel at anything it takes a considerable amount of time and energy. If someone were to play themselves to exhaustion with football, it would be considered a heavy workout.

There are tournaments available to play for money as well as simply for the competition. Many are online and sponsored by game manufacturers such as Microsoft and Nintendo as well as other brands in the online space like Amazon or this web site. One of the more interesting and money packed tournaments is being held in Los Angeles, California where 32, four man teams have pre-qualified for a chance at a $400,00 top prize. The game: Call of Duty.

If one wants to imagine what it is like inside one of these tournaments, think of a darkened movie theater with hundreds or thousands of players sitting in front of gaming consoles, oblivious to the world around them. They are one with their playing environment, twitching and rotating their controllers to execute an attack or defense strategy that will move them to the next level. With headphones on and eyes fixed, they move through their adventure. Only the foolhardy dare to try and distract these players from their ultimate goal.

While few people consider hardcore gaming a sport, it is clear that there are people devoted to success in the virtual world. Tournament players may spend hours practicing the best tactics, searching for tips and tricks, and generally focusing on a winning strategy that they can use in a competition. Gaming competitions demand different skill sets than other types of competitions, much like the X-games differ from the more traditional athletic events. This may be more of a private and personal world than what most people are familiar with, but competitive gaming still demands practice and study to end up at the top of the game.

Upgrade Your Home

Upgrading your home for gaming, including installing a mains backup generator, means that if the power ever goes out, you can still keep going online. It is for security and peace of mind.

My typical day revolves around my gaming schedule so you can imagine my chagrin if I can’t play at my favorite online casinos. I rotate between four top sites that often offer great rewards and bonuses. My world is dark literally and metaphorically until I make that first bet. Various kinds of poker (video, live dealer, Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and more) keep me active and sly. Strategy is an evolving pastime and I give it its due. A glance at my desk will reveal a pile of how to books by the world’s leading experts. There is a couple of them open right now.

My preferred gaming spot is at home in the confines of my office with my trusty laptop alert and ready before me. I have a big monitor and great speakers. I don’t even go to brick and mortar casinos anymore. I enjoy a chat with other players now and then and watching the action unfold with live dealers, but these games can slow me down. Or I can go purely electronic and give the random-numbers generator a run for their money. It’s all fun and I intend to do the impossible and beat the house each and every time (at least in my imagination! See below)

Why then do I want desperately to go out and purchase a generator for my “hobby?” (Who is kidding who?) I will not risk a crack or even a small fissure in my schedule if the power goes down and/or the computer battery loses life in minutes because I forgot to recharge. I might be on a winning streak and have to forfeit my hand. I might be playing with bonus money and the site records go haywire. What if…

As with my poker, I like to do the research and read up on the topic to learn enough to make an informed decision. I found a site with lots of reviews of the best generators that I’ve been reading up on, to help me find what I would need to buy. I found out that for computers you need an AVR type of generator (automatic voltage regulation) for stable output. The Briggs Pro Max 6000A and the Honda EU and EM were mentioned on more than one occasion so I will probably toss a coin. You just want to make sure your baby doesn’t run out of fuel and surge in the middle of your best hand of the week.


There is a big progressive jackpot today. I feel particularly lucky. Caribbean Stud Poker is the game and it’s for high stakes. There is only me at the table and the dealer is in full control. The cards are dealt and I look at the one exposed. I don’t want to lose my ante. So I place another bet twice the initial amount. All cards are laid bare. Alas, no ace/king high for the house. I win against all odds. My payout is for a royal flush, an unbelievable hand. Big bucks now for future games. The power stayed on and wasn’t a distracting fear. My generator was ready and waiting.

4 Ways Gaming Culture Can Make You Rich

I’m a gamer from way back when. I have seen the industry, and that’s what it has become, go from block text graphics to the online tournament and competition games we can’t do without. The speed at which everything from the gameplay to the joystick response time is nothing short of incredible. What is more incredible though is how much money someone can make by becoming a part of the gaming culture.

I am going to give you four basic ways that most people can use to make gaming a way to put a lot of money in your pocket. After reading these ideas, you will not think the idea of making money gaming is so crazy after all. Of course, not everyone can take advantage of all these methods, so find the one that suits you the best.

The first and most obvious way is to develop games yourself. I went down this road when I started getting involved with PC programming, and beyond being a lot of work, you need to be familiar with a number of hardware and software nuances. Object oriented programming has helped a lot in trapping many of the keyboard and controller errors, but the requirements to get your program in front of a real marketer can be stiff. Apple has a 500 plus page guide that developers need to abide by before submitting an app. Going it alone to try and market your program can not only be difficult, but expensive.

Another way to make some money is through beta testing. Personally, as a programmer, I hate testing of any kind. It is tedious and detailed work that can get boring fast. Keeping logs of every bug can wear yo out if the program you are testing is really buggie. Then you have to retest that part of the program that has been fixed and hope the same bug does not reappear.

I should stop here and mention that the pay for these first two choices can be from zero to mattress stuffing piles of money. If you go down the programming path, you may find that all your effort does not result in making more than $1 an hour because what you thought was a hit ended up a dud. With testing, don’t expect to make much money playing video games. The advantage is that you get to meet people in the industry who may find your talents useful in a permanent, full time position.

One of the most logical ways to take advantage of your expert level gameplay is to write or create a video walkthrough. Of course, you do not want to give everything away, but there are a lot of walkthroughs on YouTube that lay out the basics of how to play. So this is a matter of having the right way to talk about the game that people can relate to. Because of the intense competition you will probably have to come up with some unique way to make your video walkthrough stand out from the crowd. Sometimes choosing the right game can do the trick. If you do a walkthrough of Grand Theft Auto you can be sure there will be a ton of people who want to jump on the bandwagon.

The last option I’ll discuss is the simplest, but it takes a certain knack for writing. Create a blog. The biggest problem I have found in writing any blog is that it takes a lot of time to build a following. As with walkthroughs, there is a lot of competition and then you have to find a way to create a revenue stream. The game developers are way ahead of you on this, having a huge number of contacts from previous customers. Getting a visitor to sign up for a weekly mailer is different than getting someone to pay for your newsletter or blog. If you place PPC or other types of banner ads to generate revenue, that can take an even longer time. Blogging may be the slowest way to make money from your life of gaming.

Why Gaming Culture is Sexy

dante_cosplay_by_leon_chiro_in_rimini_comix_2013_by_leonchirocosplayart-d6flxh7Is it too creepy to suggest that the gaming culture is sexy? I didn’t think so either, but I had to put it out there. Now there are a lot of ways gaming can be considered sexy, such as the game characters. For me, there is no doubt that Lara Croft is in my top ten of fantasy females to play with. I am sure you have your own favorite male of female game character, and so that is one of the more obvious ways the gaming culture can be considered sexy.

Then there is the personal side of sexy in the real world – by attending gaming conferences such as E3. If you are looking for people of the opposite sex who have a mutual interest, you can likely find them at the major gaming conferences. The great thing about it is that you already have something in common! And if you are of the virtual persuasion, you can meet them online even if you live on opposite ends of the country. It’s not even like a first date because you don’t have to dress up or impress anyone. Just come as you are with your experience and you may find a real fantasy person. Or is it the other way around?

But in discussing this aspect of the gaming culture I cannot in good conscience exclude the technology of its inner workings. There are more than a few of us who look at the latest screen resolution or game controller with an awe and wonder that goes far beyond a simple technologic attraction. I am not one of those people, but we all know they are out there. To discuss the latest technical specs over lunch gives us reason to continue gaming after work – and ever after.

I guess the interesting part about thinking of gaming as sexy is that it makes me want to stop and think about just why is it that I play these games as much as I do. More than a few young adults prefer gaming over dating. More than a few married men prefer gaming over football – and their wives – which I have to say may be more of a problem than they would like to admit. But I wouldn’t say that all gamers are addicts or anti-social. They just prefer to be in a personally created world with a few select friends, virtual or real, and spend some time together with them.

For most of us, we can agree there is a general romantic aura about being a gamer that draws us together. We may not call it sexy, but there is a mutual attraction that exists between all of us that creates a common bond. It is what brightens our day and makes going shopping for something other than food worthwhile.