Wonder Woman’s Jet on Display at National Air & Space Museum

Crossing museum conservation jokes with superhero jokes.

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Every Flavour Perfumery

My trip to New York for IndieCade involved facemeeting some of my internet friends, and revisiting some favorite Manhattan places. This means a lovely wander around snowy St. Marks Place (thanks, ADigitalMagician!), and a black-and-white cookie, and a long walk through Chinatown, and eating at just a few of the amazing restaurants around, and also, a trip to the drugstore to sniff perfumes.

The Duane Reade next to my old office and the one next to the Port Authority both carried this insane line of perfume. They are plain square bottles of Honeysuckle,  Freesia, and Jasmine, but also Wet Garden and Crayon and Old Books and all kinds of random, good-smelling things. When I missed the DeCamp bus to my parents’ house (sometimes because DeCamp wasn’t running on the Julian calendar that day), I’d go and sniff perfumes.

bertie botts every flavor perfumes

I know that when one reminisces fondly about working in Manhattan, drugstore perfume isn’t supposed to make on the list, but you guys, I walked about a dozen blocks out of my way to go to one of the drugstores that has these in testers, so I could try spray things on my arm, and get so excited over how Rain actually smells like a rainy day, or Laundromat actually smells like clean laundry, or how that Honeysuckle spray still smells exactly like the spring when I was writing quests for Next Island and Harold had just moved to New York.

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Jelly Truck: Wibbly-Wobbly Jelly Physics

sponsored Jelly Truck I originally discovered Jelly Truck because one of my students sent us a video of himself playing it. Actually, he submitted a video of himself playing the game and singing the cutest little Jelly Truck song, and interrupting himself to comment on which parts of the game are too hard. So cute.

Anyway, when CrazyGames offered me Jelly Truck on a list of possible games to review, I jumped at the chance. (I also made a video responding to my student, because that song was the cutest.)

In Jelly Truck, players drive the Jelly Truck through the jelly world of jelly obstacles. If you’re noticing that I hate driving and therefore hate driving games, all I can say is that that student video reached extreme levels of adorable. Also this student included insightful remarks on gameplay, and is still young enough to struggle with R sounds.

Jelly Truck is a bit like a platformer, because players use the arrow keys to navigate, and you can’t let your jelly truck fall off a cliff. But there’s a twist on the typical platformer. First, you use the up arrow to drive right and the down arrow to go left. It take a moment to get used to this, I hit the up arrow a few times trying to jump over obstacles. But, you guys, jelly isn’t good at jumping. Instead, use right and left to lean in each direction, and you’ll discover that jelly might not be good at jumping, but it IS good at jiggling, and wobbling, and flipping over.

Overall, this is a cute and colorful game of wibbly-wobbly jelly physics.

Jelly Truck is currently available on CrazyGames, along with plenty of other Flash games like puzzle game 2048, and evil twin 2584, secret vampire makeouts in Twilight Kissing, and cute buttonmashing adventure Mighty Knight.


[Here comes the game]

Source: Crazy Games


crazygamesThis post is shared with you in partnership with CrazyGames.

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Action Figures Reading Action Figures

I saw this wonderful Godzilla photoset/book review, and immediately hopped up to take my own photo of Godzilla reading Action Figures. Because those are both things I have sitting around my house, obviously.

godzilla action figures instagram style

Godzilla enjoys a good YA superhero adventure.


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Exams Are Awesome!

So, I hated the mandatory Online Education intro and the etextbooks have missed the point. Also there are these mandatory discussions, where one person writes a forced and disinterested paragraph responding to the reading, and someone else writes a forced and disinterested comment on the bottom. The internet wisdom of never reading the comments has rarely been so true.

But the quizzes. They are the best.

Students can take them any time over the week, which is so amazing. I know I’ve done less-well on exams when I was tired, headachey, or distracted by other deadlines. I’ve also tried to time my course reading before a quiz, in order to hit the sweet spot between being quizzed on what I crammed 10 minutes ago, and being quizzed on something I vaguely remember reading at the beginning of the semester. Being able to take my quiz when I am feeling comfortable and confident is so great.

Plus, you can take the quizzes multiple times, and the highest one counts. So, if you hand in a quiz and realize you messed something up or if you’re not happy with your score (available instantly, did I mention that?), just try again.

And course grades are always available, which is I’m finding motivating and really reassuring. It’s nice to see my average whenever I want, and know that I haven’t forgotten anything. (I got a lot of Bs in college because I aced 4 assignments and completely forgot about the 5th.) It’s not always fun to do homework at night, so looking at a good course average is motivating.

(I just did the math to see if I can pass by getting As on every quizzes and ignoring discussions. I can’t. But if I maintain an A in quizzes, I only really have to do 2/3s of the discussions… Why did I work that out? The discussions are so much worse now.)


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Strikeforce Kitty 2

strikeforce kitty 2 Strikeforce Kitty 2 is adorable kitty-themed arcade fun. Your kitties are trying to defeat the evil foxes, and they’ll need to get cute little kitty outfits to conquer their enemies.  (It took me about 2 seconds to pick Strikeforce Kitty 2 from the list of new CrazyGames titles, and I wasn’t disappointed by the cuteness or the combat.)

Loads of jerk foxes will attack, on every level, and your four kitties run and jump and loot tons of gear from those enemy foxes. Looting gear is for combat purposes, and also for adorable kitty cuteness. This part reminded me of the outfit upgrades in another cute little cat game, Sushi Cat.

Combat kitties will need to collect entire outfits, and it’s just as addicting to collect a funny kitty outfit as to get those last pieces of the Defias Bandit armor. Once a cat has a full outfit, they gain the associated ability.

Strikeforce Kitty 2 has a lot of new additions from the original, specifically more outfits and more levels, as well as a new structure and other ways to avoid feeling like you’re grinding. But let’s be honest, you’re playing because it has cuteness and battles.

Strikeforce Kitty 2 is currently available on CrazyGames, along with plenty of other Flash games like puzzle game 2048, and evil twin 2584, vampire makeouts in Twilight Kissing, and cute buttonmashing adventure Mighty Knight.

[Here comes the game]



crazygamesThis post is shared with you in partnership with CrazyGames.

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Unlocking The Pyramids in ‘World of Secrets’

wos banner

The Pyramids are one of the most challenging locations in National Geographic’s Facebook game World of Secrets. Here’s a guide to unlocking and rebuilding this beautiful site:

After you’ve gotten to Level 21, you’ll need 22 Scarves from your friends and 15,000 coins to unlock the Pyramids. It’s easy to get the Scarves by asking your friends, and you’ll find 15,000 quite easily as you reach level 22. Congrats!

Now it’s time to repair the Pyramids. Here’s how to do it, and some hints to do it even faster.

Your Crafting Recipe

You’ll need:

5 Rock, which are made in the Workshop

7 Pickaxe, which can be found in either the Valley scene in Alaska or the Arctic Camp scene in the Arctic.

2 Canopic Vase, which are found in Abu Simbel in Egypt

2 Ankh Symbol, also  found in Abu Simbel in Egypt

2 Hieroglyphic Tablet, also  found in Abu Simbel in Egypt

4 Toolboxes, found visiting friends.

Well, you’ll clearly have to visit Abu Simbel, and search until you have all the Canopic Vases, Ankh Symbols and Hieroglyphic Tablets. But wait! Rock is a crafted item, which requires:

2 Rough Rock, borrowed from friends

3 Pickaxes, which can be found in either the Valley scene in Alaska or the Arctic Camp scene in the Arctic

In all, you will need 10 Rough Rocks from your friends, and another 15 Pickaxes.

Best Strategy For Speed

toolboxThe best strategy is ask all your game friends for Rock (the Rough Rock, not the finished Rock!) as soon as you get this mission. If you have very few friends, it might take a while to get all 10, but if you have a lot of friends, you can get this with no problem. You only need 2 to start making Rock, so you can get started on crafting while waiting to receive more, in order to progress even more efficiently.

Then start visiting friends every day for those Toolboxes! Don’t worry if you don’t find one right away — you will use the other items you find, like Camp Stoves, Scales and Canteens, when crafting hints!  Again, if you have a lot of World of Secrets friends, this will be faster than if you only have a few, but you can still complete this with just a few neighbors.

Then, search for the rest of the items in the locations. To maximize efficiency, you can do this while you’re waiting to receive items or waiting for visiting to recharge.

Search the Valley scene or the Arctic Camp for those pickaxes. The pickaxes are just the same from either one, so pick whichever one helps you with other missions or whichever scene you’re better at!

You’ll also need to search Abu Simbel until you have all the Canopic Vases, Ankh Symbols and Hieroglyphic Tablets.

Happy exploring! I hope this helps! Let me know how far you’ve gotten in WoS!

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Career Lessons From The Sims: Lifetime Wish

meg writingSo I recently noticed that following the Writer skill track for The Sims 3 draws an interesting distinction between mastery of the skill, creating brilliant work, selling profitable work, and the activity of writing. Thinking about these distinctions has led to way more existential questions than you might expect from relaxing with my imaginary game people. Does my Sim want to write something brilliant? Create a masterpiece? Earn good money writing? Make money on this piece, or overall?  Or just feel like writing something for fun?

In Sims 3, each Sims has an individual Lifetime Wish, chosen at the beginning of the game, which answers which type of writing they should pursue. They might want to rule the free world, or learn every recipe ever, or be a chess grandmaster, or whatever, and they’ll be working towards this their whole life, unless you’re the kind of player who puts your Sims in the pool and deletes the ladder.

sims writer goals

Anyway, three of these Lifetime Wishes are about writing, and they’re all more detailed than just “be a writer.” The Professional Author Lifetime Wish means making a living as a writer, so this Sim should be focused on completing a wide number of short, saleable works. For the Illustrious Author goal, which means reaching the top of the skill track in writing and artistry, Sims should train, and practice, and read about writing, and study art, and not really bother writing anything to sell until it’s a masterpiece. And there’s another writing-related goal, which is to reach the top of Journalism career track. This is actually a Star News Anchor and turns out being more about building Charisma skills and workplace relationships than writing and creativity (and it doesn’t involve any puns about a rapidly rising anchor, really a missed opportunity).

Mixing these goals up, especially by thinking that as long as your Sim is writing, they’re on their way to their goals, can lead to major life dissatisfaction.

(You can do them all if you turn off aging.)

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Blog Book Tour: Touched Up

touched_up_whirldwind banner

No one should smile before the sun rises. On the happiness scale, content is about as good as you can get to in these dark hours. I wake early most every morning because content works for me. Since becoming the father of two, this tiny portion of the day is all the me-time I have left. If people were honest, which they mostly aren’t, I think they would admit to wanting more time alone. It’s 5:47 AM and I’m sitting quietly in the kitchen, where there are no responsibilities, no guilt, and no unmet expectations. Simply silence. –Touched Up, Leo DuFresne

touchedThis is a hard story to review, because a large part of it hinges on blackmail and I don’t want to give away the mystery by summarizing. So here are some impressions, to stay away from spoilers.

Our protagonist, Mitch, doesn’t start out all that likeable, but stick with the bro ego a little bit, and he’ll grow on you. Through the plot’s twists and turns, some of the bluntness stopped seeming self-centered and he started to just narrative in a completely frank, if occasionally angry, voice.

I loved the angry sarcasm from the teenage daughter, partly because her character added to the plot and to Mitch’s development, and partly because teenagers in fiction aren’t always well done.

Touched Up refers to small changes made to improve something, whether it’s a photo that Mitch takes, or more of a metaphor about improving his relationships and his driven life.

I received a copy of this book from Whirlwind Virtual Book Tours for review.

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Not Sure It Works That Way

One of my readings for the class I’m taking is available as an ebook, but there’s some sort of copyright protection preventing me from easily sharing passages on social media, saving passages to my GoodReads account, or seeing other students’ highlights.

I love the social features of an ereader, especially discovering the best-loved passages of my favorite novels, just as a person who loves to read. If you work in education, and read a great deal about technology and education, then you often hear the acronym PLN for Personal Learning Network, and most of my PLN gets pretty excited over new ways to reach students through social media, new ways to share what we’re reading, new ways to share our thoughts, new content to discover, and new ways to participate in an exchange of ideas. You guys, we’re so close to a magical future utopia of easily accessible learning communities for all different interests!

So, it blows my mind that now, when I’m in an online course where part of my grade is proving that I’ve done assigned reading and another part is having online discussions with other students about the text, that the social features of the ebook would be disabled.

It’s a particularly poor copyright protection since I’m forcibly prevented from putting a meaningful passage on my GoodReads account, but there’s only my conscience to stop me from screenshotting the entire reading.

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Accidentally Honest Typo

Oops, I teach our students coding skills, not coping skills. Spellcheck doesn’t know the difference and I almost sent it out like that.

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The Manners Fandom

snobs julian fellowesI choose Snobs at the library entirely because it’s by Julian Fellowes, from Downton Abbey, and I was not disappointed.

Snobs is sort of a double comedy of manners, half titled Brits surrounded by those who wish they were too, and half actors, surrounded by those who wish they were too. Lots of quiet desperation and coded behaviors and people insisting they’re not at all snobbish. So many scenes where one person said “My dear, would you like to stay for dinner?” and the other person realized it actually meant “We’re starving, go home now so we can eat.”

The other night, I was talking to a colleague about keeping harmonious office relations, how I like to say “Where should I look for *essential information you promised me last week*?” or “Who should I ask for *thing we both know is your job*?” so that no one loses face. It’s a holdover from my Chinese days, even though in Beijing, it cracked me up when my entire department was treated to a lecture on the importance of conserving electricity, rather that one individual being reminded to shut off the lights when leaving.

This phrasing is about good relationships in the danwei, and is a bit different from a required amount of pleasant smalltalk about weather and mutual acquaintance before getting to the actual point, which is how Southerners do guanxi. I don’t love forced chitchat, but I kind of love manners and customs that ensure that no one will be accidentally embarrassed or accidentally made uncomfortable. Only on purpose.

If you are also in the manners fandom, you should get Snobs right away.

A while ago, NPR called a show “driveway stories” and the description stayed with me, even thought I don’t remember what show was being praised, because the idea of sitting the car a moment longer than I absolutely must was really weird. But I’ve been excited to get into the car all the week, because driving means finding out what happens next with Edith and Charles!

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Checking The Boxes That Must Be Checked

I recently started taking an online class. The first thing I need to do to take my content class (which is a prereq to a program I want to apply for) is to take a mandatory orientation class on online education. I did write a letter to the school, explaining that I work in online education, that I literally make videos for distant students, that I know how Blackboard works, and that I don’t need to be reassured that online classes are real classes, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out of taking this.

The entire thing was the sort of soul-crushing education machine that made me drop out of college when I was 19.   Teenage Meg expected to love college — I’ve always loved reading and learning! — but when I discovered my first year was almost entirely 100-level requirements, I really hated it. Even when I went back, I had a lot of trouble doing the required sitting down, shutting up, and checking the boxes you’re supposed to check. Mandatory assignments that existed to prove only that I’d done the required reading by the required deadline, and required no thought or interpretation, (usually handed to a bored TA who was required to mark a certain number of these meaningless quizzes) made it quite difficult to enjoy education.

Anyway, so yesterday I came home after a week of working in online education and watched a (rather second-rate) mandatory video on how online education works, and then I wrote three strengths and three potential weaknesses of online education, just as required, while trying to view this assignment as a means to an valuable end, and not a soul-crushing waste of time.

I alt-tabbed from this over to Twitter where I had a feeler for a possible speaking gig, where I’d be talking about education.

Prereqs are even stupider in my thirties than they were in my teens.

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Oak City Comics Show

ock city comic show with harold Oak City Comics Show with Harold last weekend.

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Videogame Zinesters Revisited

IndieCade East inspired me to reread Anna Anthropy’s manifesto/memoir/guidebook Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form. Rereading on a Kindle is particularly interesting, because I highlighted passages last time I read it, and I found that very different passages resonated with me when I read it two years ago, working as a quest designer, and now, working as a game design teacher. This section really struck me both times.

zinesterWhat to Make a Game About?

Your dog, your cat, your child, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your mother, your father, your grandmother, your friends, your imaginary friends, your summer vacation, your winter in the mountains, your childhood home, your current home, your future home, your first job, your worst job, the job you wish you had.

Your first date, your first kiss, your first fuck, your first true love, your second true love, your relationship, your kinks, your deepest secrets, your fantasies, your guilty pleasures, your guiltless pleasures, your break-up, your make-up, your undying love, your dying love.

Your hopes, your dreams, your fears, your secrets, the dream you had last night, the thing you were afraid of when you were little, the thing you’re afraid of now, the secret you think will come back and bite you, the secret you were planning to take to your grave, your hope for a better world, your hope for a better you, your hope for a better day.

The passage of time, the passage of memory, the experience of forgetting, the experience of remembering, the experience of meeting a close friend from long ago on the street and not recognizing her face, the experience of meeting a close friend from long ago and not being recognized, the experience of aging, the experience of becoming more dependent on the people who love you, the experience of becoming less dependent on the people you hate.

The experience of opening a business, the experience of opening the garage, the experience of opening your heart, the experience of opening someone else’s heart via risky surgery, the experience of opening the window, the experience of opening for a famous band at a concert when nobody in the audience knows who you are, the experience of opening your mind, the experience of taking drugs, the experience of your worst trip, the experience of meditation, the experience of learning a language, the experience of writing a book.

A silent moment at a pond, a noisy moment in the heart of a city, a moment that caught you unprepared, a moment you spent a long time preparing for, a moment of revelation, a moment of realization, a moment when you realized the universe was not out to get you, a moment when you realized the universe was out to get you, a moment when you were totally unaware of what was going on, a moment of action, a moment of inaction, a moment of regret, a moment of victory, a slow moment, a long moment, a moment you spent in the branches of a tree.

The cruelty of children, the brashness of youth, the wisdom of age, the stupidity of age, a fairy tale you heard as a child, a fairy tale you heard as an adult, the lifestyle of an imaginary creature, the lifestyle of yourself, the subtle ways in which we admit authority into our lives, the subtle ways in which we overcome authority, the subtle ways in which we become a little stronger or a little weaker each day.

A trip on a boat, a trip on a plane, a trip down a vanishing path through a forest, waking up in a darkened room, waking up in a friend’s room and not knowing how you got there, waking up in a friend’s bed and not knowing how you got there, waking up after twenty years of sleep, a sunset, a sunrise, a lingering smile, a heartfelt greeting, a bittersweet goodbye.

Your past lives, your future lives, lies that you’ve told, lies you plan to tell, lies, truths, grim visions, prophecy, wishes, wants, loves, hates, premonitions, warnings, fables, adages, myths, legends, stories, diary entries.

Jumping over a pit, jumping into a pool, jumping into the sky and never coming down.

Anything. Everything.

–Anna Anthropy Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form

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