7

Upping the Ante on Big Boggle

Everyone knows Boggle, one of my all time favorite games. Also, a game at which I have barely ever lost.

For those of you who don’t know, Boggle is when you have a 4×4 grid of letters, and you have to make a list of words with letters that are adjacent or diagonally adjacent. In regular Boggle, the minimum number of letters is three, so HE would not count but THE would. In Big Boggle, the grid is 5×5 and the letter minimum is four, so HE and THE would not count, but THEN or THEY would. It’s a combination of quick eyes, quick hands to beat the timer, and a good vocabulary. When I am at home with my family, we usually play at least once or twice a week. Lately, I’ve been eschewing 4-letter words and just doing 5-letter words, because I see so many 4-letter words and those only score you one point, as opposed to 5-letter words, which, if only you have them on your list, give you 2 points, 6-letter words for 3 points, and so on.

So tonight, my dad and I played up to a preset 500 points, using only 5-letter words or more.

It was insane.

After about 10 rounds, I beat my dad 510-250 (or something like that) but the ante was upped with the five-letter limit. It was also much easier to navigate each board, without worrying about writing down ARTS, RATS, STAR, etc., when A-R-T-S appear in the grid.

It also made for some longer and more exciting words.

Over the course of the game, I got two  eight-letter words, rare in the ordinary game of Boggle, seasoner and reasoner, and a record nine-letter wordreasoners. I also got some fun seven-letter words I would not have ordinarily picked up on, like treasonartistecontainnunneryquality, peerage, deifies, and deified, as well as some uncommon shorter words, like arcaneardent, incestswaintattoosarin (a type of poison) and raglan (a style of sleeve).

So there’s one way to kill an evening.

Also, I still have about 8-9 spots open for my That’s So Jacob 16 snail mails in 2016, so comment below with your email address, let’s connect, and I will send you something fun in the mail for the new year!

4

Theatre Thoughts n Things: Trifles, The Mafia Game

As some of you may know – well, anyone who reads me knows – I’m teaching a course at my university this semester, an introductory theatre course. I have 4 sections of students, and it’s my job to keep them occupied and discovering the wonderful world of theatre and plays during a weekly 1-hour supplementary discussion section.

This morning, I woke up with two realizations. First, I had to lead 2 discussions today on Trifles, by Susan Glaspell. Second, I had no idea how to do it and was scared like no other. I pictured myself, stammering and staring in front of a room full of bored college students, watching the minutes tick by on the clock, and then lowering my head in defeat as the bell rang.

However, I came up with a plan. A lesson plan, incorporating both Trifles and a super-fun party game.

Introducing: Trifles, the Mafia Game.

Essentially, it’s a simple version of Mafia. I dealt out a deck of cards, one to each class member. 5 of them were clubs; those 5 were the Five-Club Mafia. Their goal: eliminate all the townspeople, AKA the rest of the class, who were all dealt spades. We started off in “night” mode, with everyone asleep on their desks. I asked the Mafia to wake up, and by silent gestures, decide on a victim. Then, they go back to sleep, and everyone wakes up for “day” mode, in which we find out which townsperson has been “killed,” and they are now “dead” and out of the game. Together, the townspeople must put in three nominees for lynching, and by a majority-vote, lynch one of their own, who then reveals his/her status. If the townspeople eliminate the mafia, they win. If the mafia gain a majority in the town, they win.

This ties back to the play Trifles by Susan Glaspell, in which a murder has been committed, but the sheriff, county attorney, and a farmer overlook key pieces of evidence, disregarding what two women find (a dead bird, a knotted quilt) and referring to those items as “trifling,” when they are indeed pivotal to the case. Subsequently, the two women make off with the evidence.

In my first section, I think the discussion went on a bit too long because we only ended up having time for two rounds, which is a problem when you have 14 students. However, after two deaths, and two lynchings of townspeople who turned out to be innocent, we were left with 5 Mafiosos and 5 townies. Technically, a stalemate, but I awarded the win to the Mafia, who largely remained out of suspicion. I think that only maybe one of them was even suggested as a potential Mafioso.

My second discussion section yielded a more interesting result. In that section, I had 15 students: 7 male, and 8 female. As luck would have it, unlike the previous section, whose Mafia was 3 male and 2 female, this section’s Mafia ended up being 4 female and just 1 male. In the first round, the victim was male, and another male (innocent) was lynched. In the second round, the victim was again, male, and another male was lynched, but he turned out to be one of the Mafia. In the third round, the class woke up to find that the third victim was – once again – male. Now, down to 2 men and 8 women, I put forth the suggestion to the class…

“Notice that the men are being taken out one by one? Maybe, just maybe, there’s an all-female Mafia that’s slowly eliminating the guys, continuing the work of the ladies from Trifles?”

After that suggestion, the townspeople lynched a female classmate, who turned out to be one of the Mafia. We only had time for one more round, and with 9 students left (2 male, 7 female; 3 Mafiosos and 6 townspeople), the townies had already decimated the Mafia and had a higher probability to win, but I decided to see what would happen. We went to night, and the ladies of the Mafia switched it up and eliminated a female townie. When we switched back to day mode, I think that the townies caught on that the mafia were trying to cover up their identities even further, so the only names that were nominated were girls. Oddly enough, of the 6 girls that were left, the three names that the townspeople offered up for nomination were the three innocent girls, so the townies ended up lynching one of their own. If we would have gone on one more round, the Mafia could have turned the game around, but since class was over, I ended up giving the win to the 4 remaining townspeople, despite the 3 remaining Mafia ladies never really arousing any suspicion from the rest of the class. Even though the townspeople won by default, I think that had we gone on one more round, the Mafia would’ve taken control.

Overall: Had we more time (and if I had more time to think and be creative) it could have been more successful, but I think that it was a good exercise, involving acting, entertainment, strategy, and a little reference to the play we were studying. It worked better when the Mafia happened to be (almost) all-female, like what happened in my second section, but I think that people enjoyed it, even if they did not get too much out of it.

For a homework assignment, I asked them to reflect on their experience, and connect it to performance and to Trifles.

Which I kind of just did, myself.

I give myself an A.

Good job Jacob!

0

That’s So ::splash::

It’s a hot and sunny afternoon here in Charlottetown, and since I left my notebook upstairs, I completely forgot what I was going to write about originally, but I guess that gives me the best excuse to write about the here and now.

I am sitting in the living room of the hostel. It’s much more different than the last one; the Montreal Central was more Holiday Inn and business, and this place, CBI, is a little more Regency Lodge and put-your-feet-up. Benefits to both, definitely, but this leather couch is so comfortable I’d have to say that CBI wins. Sitting on the couch next to me are Jade and Heloise, two lovely students from Quebec, who are quiet with an occasional giggle at the movie they’re watching on their tablet. The three of us have been hanging out a lot and have done a lot of fun activities together, like the lame factory tour and the fringe festival; more on that later.

After a morning of geocaching solo, I met up with the aforementioned Jade and Heloise for two hours of paddleboarding. For those of you who can’t imagine it, paddleboarding is standing on a surfboard while propelling yourself with a paddle; a cross-breed of rowing and surfing. Anyone can do it, all you need is some balance and arm strength, both of which I like to think I have, but apparently do not have enough of.

I started out on my knees, then after a few minutes got to a kneel, then a squat, and finally, my own two feet. I managed to paddle out of the maze of boats in the marina while standing for ten minutes, then had a lovely fall into the water. The first of many. To my credit, I did spend about half of the two hours standing and paddling (or at least standing and trying not to fall; about 1/4 of the time on my knees or bottom frantically paddling to keep up with the girls; and then spent the rest of the time falling in the water (about six times, overall, including onto some rocks) and yelling “I’m fine!”


It was a good exercise for the arms and legs, and I think I might have gotten a blister or two, but it’s not something I wouldn’t do again. Even though while I was out there, I was like “why would anyone want to do this?” by the time I got back, I felt like I was just getting my groove on.

And every time I fell, I got back up, even if it took a few minutes.

And now I know I can do it.

And I raised my paddle in victory and triumph.

And then I landed on my bottom on the dock while Jade was helping to pull me in.

5

Gettin’ Down in Charlottetown

So far, Charlottetown and Prince Edward Island has been amazing. Off to bed now, but stay tuned for:

  • Details on my epic journey here
  • My first day in Charlottetown
  • My second day in Charlottetown (and Cavendish, for Anne of Green Gables)
  • …and whatever tomorrow may bring!

Sorry for the infrequent posts, but having a fun vacation and being in Travel Mode just makes me want to go-go-go…

10

Oh, the Card of Humanity

Wow, a daytime post!

I could only sleep from 3-7 last night, which sucked. Actually, life has been sucking a lot lately, but last night at the end-of-semester ballroom dance party, I played Cards Against Humanity for the first time ever, and it was awesome. There were about 10 people playing to 4 black cards, and I won. For those who don’t know, it’s basically a crazier, dirtier, more politically incorrect version of Apples to Apples, another favorite game of mine. I just about died laughing while playing, and apparently people got my sense of humor, because I won after about only 15 rounds.

Here were my winning answers (in bold):

1. I never truly understood dry heaving until I encountered Britney Spears at 55.

2. A romantic, candlelit dinner would be incomplete without a bigger, blacker dick.

3. In a pinch, masturbation can be a good substitute for guys who don’t call.

And finally,

4. Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to take-backsies.

Voila, we have a winner!

And now, lunch and writing, or something like that.

But first two milestones:

Meet my 900th follower, all the way from Madison, Wisconsin, Holly from Holly Recommends. Thanks, Holly!

And also, every continent visited before noon! Yay! High fives to North America (USA and Canada), South America (Colombia and Brazil), Europe (UK, Germany, Montenegro, Ireland, and Poland), Asia (UAE, Turkey, and Philippines), Africa (Kenya) and Oceania (Australia)!

11

Masterpiece YouTube: “Mime Through Time,” SketchSHE, 2015

I’m tired (so what else is new) but just wanted to get a post in today. I haven’t done one of these since March, so I think it’s time for another. You’ve probably seen this clip before, but it’s so creative and hilarious and just my style, so here’s an in-depth analysis.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 20: “Mime Through Time,” SketchSHE, 2015.

SketchSHE consists of three funny ladies from Australia: Lana, Madison, and Shae-Lee. I have no idea which is which, so I just refer to them as Driver, Passenger, and Backseat.

We start with the three just hanging out in their car. Passenger turns on the radio, and they’re in 1940s gear and singing along with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” They look like nurses going to a party off base. A salute, and a seamless transition into Elvis, complete with jumpsuits and new makeup/hairstyles. With a headbang, they’re the Beatles. Even though Driver and Passenger are tied up, they can still un-duct tape themselves. A bit illusion-shattering, but no time to think as they morph into Queen. They have a nice transition here into Michael Jackson, and this might be my favorite bit because they each have a different King of Pop look going on; Backseat has the “Thriller” jacket, and Driver is “Bad.” The choreography is inspired too. Then, it’s time for my favorite transition…just wait for it…1:17. That Passenger seat face is scary but hilarious as they all become Whitney. A hair flip leads them into Nirvana, and for some reason I’m getting Hanson flashbacks. I don’t like this song, but they do it well. Then it’s time for a rap interlude, with some mist in the background. Check out the Driver rapping and the Backseat fly girl. This next transition into Britney seems a bit out of place, as the light and positions change drastically, but the head-shaving bit cracks me up every time. The Eminem bit is not my favorite, but then they go all “Single Ladies,” with the one-shoulder jumpsuits and hand-motions, aided in interpretation by some fierce eye makeup and expressions. A great transition into Gotye. That bit seems out of place too because there’s not really a dance style associated with it, but then we get them in full-on “Thrift Shop” pimp mode, which is #$%^ing awesome…and then there’s “Wrecking Ball.” One by one, they realize that they’re topless, and then someone off screen gets Driver to roll down her window because she’s illegally parked, ignoring the fact that there are three topless (presumably naked) women in a car singing along to Miley Cyrus.

I think they did a great job of including a variety of music styles from pop to punk to rap, and the costumes and makeup designs were, for the most part, dead-on. I was surprised at some of their omissions, like Madonna (“Vogue”), Spice Girls(“Wannabe”), Bee Gees (“Night Fever”), country line dance (“Achy Breaky Heart” or “Cotton Eye Joe”), 90s boy band, Motown girl group…but then again, maybe they’re saving them for Part II. I sure hope there is a Part II.

What I learned from this video: Road trips are always fun with friends, make sure you don’t forget your shirt, and don’t park illegally.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube was brought to you by A & P: Anxiety and Procrastination.

Also, according to my Live Statistics, my 25,000th flag showed up a few days ago, and it was from a visitor from Singapore. Thanks, Singapore!

13

Five Years of Words

A few weeks ago, I was checking my stats on Words With Friends and saw that I started playing on April 11, 2010. So, five years later, here’s where my life has been, along with 26 words I like to use, one for each member of the alphabet.

Games played: around 5,953, give or take a few.

My all time score: 737, 925.

Longest win streak 32 games in a row.

Highest score: 656.

And now, for the words:

AOUDAD

What it is: A type of sheep found North Africa. It comes from French and Berber, specifically the Berber word udad, meaning “ram.”

Used in a sentence: What a lovely sweater you have there; is it aoudad fur?

BAHT

What it is: The currency of Thailand. It comes from Thai, obviously and refers to a weight.

Used in a sentence: Good lord, Enid, what did you buy in that river market in Phuket that cost twelve million baht?

COHO

What it is: A type of salmon. Its origin is unknown.

Used in a sentence: If you take a hooker out to dinner, order coho for the ho and a bottle of rum.

DJIN or DJINN

What it is: A figure in Islamic mythology, and the inspiration for Robin Williams’ character in Aladdin. Language of origin is Arabic.

Used in a sentence: Were I a djin, I’d want my home to be a bottle of gin.

EDH

What it is: A rune, to stand in for the “th” sound in Old English.

Used in a sentence: There is no funny way to use edh in a sentence.

FEIJOA

What it is: A South American shrub, also known as pineapple guava. Named for Joao da Silva Feijo.

Used in a sentence: I wouldn’t go near that feijoa smoothie if I were you.

GRIOT

What it is: A member of an African tribe whose job it is to tell stories. Originated from French and Portuguese.

Used in a sentence: “Tell us another one, griot,” said Tommy, “before our lands are gone.”

HAEN

What it is: Past tense of “have,” in Scottish.

Used in a sentence: “Oh mother Mary,” said Oona, “I haen no more wool to make the tartans.”

INIA

What it is: A type of river dolphin found in South America.

Used in a sentence: You won’t find no inia in West Virginia.

JUGA or JUGAL

What it is: Of or relating to the jugum (another good word), also known as the cheekbone. From Latin.

Used in a sentence: After Peter’s wife came to prison for a conjugal visit and he went to sleep, she and his cellmate Pedro had a con jugal visit of their own. (Oh oh, see what I did there?)

KARST

What it is: An underground limestone chamber. It comes from German.

Used in a sentence: After Brunhilda slipped and fell in the Alps, she was afraid she was cursed to remain in the karst forever.

LWEI

What it is: Another fun money word, this time from Angola.

Used in a sentence: Holy cannoli, Camilla, what did you buy from that arms dealer in Luanda that cost twelve million lwei?

MAQUI

What it is: A shrub grown in Chile and southern California. Comes from Spanish and Araucanian.

Used in a sentence: In Southern California, sometimes they cut the maqui into the shape of a famous mouse.

NAOS or NAOI

What it is: The inner sanctum of a temple in Greece. Greek origin, obviously.

Used in a sentence: “Oh no,” said Aphrodite, “I think I left my blouse in the naos!”

OBIA or OBEAH

What it is: A form of sorcery practiced mostly in the West Indies. The word claims roots from “Gullah, Jamaican English, Guyanan English, Sranan, Twi and Igbo.” Quite a pedigree for such a small word.

Used in a sentence: If you were scared of sorcery, would that mean you had obiaphobia?

PHAGE

What it is: A shortened form of a biology term, like “bacteriophage.”

Used in a sentence: Mitosis is just two cells going through a phage.

QADI

What it is: A judge in a Muslim community. From Arabic.

Used in a sentence: Abdul was hoping to be reassigned to a courthouse in a town near an oasis, so he could be the first qadi in the wadi.

RINGHALS

What it is: A highly venomous snake from Africa, and Afrikaans.

Used in a sentence: The ringhals is so deadly that it is its own plural.

SAUTOIR

What it is: Well, it’s obviously from French, and it’s a ribbon tied around your neck, sometimes with a pendant.

Used in a sentence: Isabelle refused to let her daughter out of the house unless her sautoir was straight.

THERIACA

What it is: A fancy name for treacle.  Latin/Greek origins.

Used in a sentence: Who uses theriaca in cooking anymore?

UREA

What it is: A compound in urine. Either comes from French or Greek.

Used in a sentence: Urea is a great way to end a game, and I resisted the urge to make a pee joke.

VOXEL

What it is: Something to do with medical coding. I don’t know, it’s late.

Used in a sentence: I have never seen a voxel.

WOOMERA

What it is: A notched stick used by Australian Aborigines as a hunting spear. From Dharuk.

Used in a sentence: “Crikey,” said Kyle, “I think I hit a wallaby with my woomera!”

XYST

What it is: A tree-covered promenade or path. From Latin/Greek.

Used in a sentence: Without a good xyst, I think we would cease to exist.

YESHIVA

What it is: An Orthodox Jewish educational institution. Okay, I admit, I put this in for personal reasons but I have used it successfully and even as a plural. It’s Hebrew, if you couldn’t tell.

Used in a sentence: “They’ll never find me here,” giggled Sister Mary-Celine Dion, as she ducked into the yeshiva, thinking to herself that this was the best game of hide-and-seek the convent ever had.

ZAS

What it is: Shortening of “pizzas.”

Used in a sentence: Passover is done so GIVE ME ALL THE ZAS.

That was not as fun as I thought it would be to type but I hope y’all enjoyed it. Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the aoudads bite.

1

Nine Thousand Miles

This weekend was a whirlwind, almost lost to history and memory, but I’ll see how much I can resurrect out of it.

Friday: After our final school show, it was officially time for spring break and for hitting the road to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the Iowa DanceSport Classic, my first away competition. I could not find a partner, so I decided to go TBA, and dance at Bronze level rather than newcomer for the first time. I needed some extra time to veg out, so I ended up leaving Madison at 4 PM with exactly 8600 miles on the car. It was a relatively uneventful trip, and my first time ever seeing eastern Iowa in the daylight. I made it to Iowa City at sunset and almost got into an accident; there’s a road there with two lines going the same direction, yet there’s a divider in between them. So, I thought I could turn left from the right lane. The car in front of me did that about 5 minutes before, and got hit; fortunately, the person in the left lane slowed down so the same didn’t happen to me. I still decided to be the good Samaritan and see if the people who did get into the accident were okay. After a quick sandwich and cappuccino, I met up with Sophia, Dillon, Nicole, and Tim (the first three are from team, Tim is Sophia’s friend) in downtown Iowa City. Sophia, who graduated from Iowa, led us around the campus, and we went to a fun dance club and saw the old state capitol building before heading over to Cedar Rapids to check into the hotel. There were 8 of us in the room; me, Sophia, Dillon, Nicole, Sergio, Ciara, Raunak, and Jameson, and it was like a giant slumber party, complete with attempting to throw popcorn in Jameson’s mouth and making a giant mess, but we did actually get some sleep. Of course, I ended up in between Jameson and Raunak in the king-size bed, so it is debatable as to how much sleep I actually got.

Saturday: Wake-up, get dressed, and make-up by 8:30 for registration only to find out that the events most of us are competing in aren’t happening until 2:30 PM.

Great.

At least we were ready early.

The first activity of the day was lunch with Sophia, Dillon, Nicole, and Sergio, and meeting my partner for the day, Heather from the Iowa team. Our practice went pretty well, and she and her pre-champ friends taught me how to do a reverse turn in samba, which I always wanted to know how to do. Then, at 2:45 (they were running a bit late) it was showtime. I wasn’t too happy with the cha-cha and rumba we did, but I thought our samba and jive were pretty good for only having known each other for 2 hours. I was much happier with our standard, we did a lovely waltz despite starting off time, and our quickstep was not bad. Overall, not the greatest for my first away competition, but next time will be better.

Oh, and I saw the announcer in the bathroom afterwards while taking off my makeup, and he said that he saw me and was wondering if I had my eye makeup tattooed on, to which I chuckled “I wish.” At least my eye-makeup game was totally on fleek.

After getting gas and finding some geocaches, dinner was at Jersey’s Pub in downtown Cedar Rapids with Raunak, Jameson, and Ciara. We watched the nail-biting game between Wisconsin and Arizona, and thankfully Wisconsin was around 8 points ahead most of the time, so elite eight, here come the Badgers.

I left Cedar Rapids at about 9 PM, and got home a few minutes before midnight with exactly 8995 miles on my car, and next morning’s trip to the grocery store got me to 9000.

Now, time to get as much work done as I possibly can before heading home on Thursday.

2

Masterpiece YouTube: Donald O’Connor, Applied Mathematics

Today was a horribly cold and blustery day, the first of the year. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean six more weeks of winter for Madison. I actually had a nice day, though: lunch with 12 friends at Great Dane, and I also got to the gym, which was just about empty, thanks to the Superbowl and the weather. I’ve got a lot on my mind, so to give you a more accurate picture of what it looks like and because I don’t have the wherewithal at the moment to think of something interesting and new, here’s an updated episode of MYT from last September that I’ve been meaning to fix.

Just watch.

That’s So Jacob Presents:

Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 14: Donald O’Connor, Applied Mathematics, Are You With It? (1948)

This, my friends, is talent. No offense to the silver screen stars of today (does anyone even use that phrase anymore?) but Donald O’Connor’s feet have more talent in them than the majority of this year’s Oscar nominees. It’s even more striking in black and white. And yeah, it’s not really about math, but it’s fun to watch and pretend that it’s your math homework.

Donald O’Connor was part of an amazing generation of performers. And when I say performers, I mean performers – people who could sing, dance, act, and had personalities and energies that were just electric. People like Ann Miller, Betty Garrett, Vera-Ellen, Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly. There’s a reason why Singin’ In The Rain is one of the best American movies of all time; it’s because the viewer is drawn into the story and its characters. These days, I feel like popular movies are all pretty much the same animal; remake of a remake of a remake, sci-fi aliens/dinosaurs/warriors, romantic comedy, or screwball comedy. Not to say that they aren’t good, there’s just a certain magic that goes into a musical film; as the characters go through their changes through song, so do you. I think the only major movie that would fit this category is Pitch Perfect, and even that’s pushing it.

Speaking of remakes, I think it’s high time for Are You With It? to mount a comeback. From what I understand, the plot is about a math teacher who joins a traveling carnival. In today’s economy and the worrisome job market, this might be just the thing to inspire people, or at least entertain them.

Or you could just watch Donald O’Connor dance some more.

This episode of Masterpiece YouTube has been brought to you by the Rachel Sweet Pandora Radio channel, which I’ve been rocking out to for the last half-hour while I wrote this.

In other news, I hope that y’all come back and visit even though the January Blogging Odyssey is over. I’ve had a pretty good day though, with five continents reporting in, all but Africa: North America (Canada and USA), South America (Peru), Europe (UK, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Italy, and Liechtenstein), Asia (Israel, India, UAE, and the Philippines) and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand). Tell your friends?

31

2015: A WordPress Odyssey

Even though I haven’t mentioned it here, most of you know that for the past month I’ve been doing a blogging experiment. For those of you not in the know, what I decided to do was find, follow, and comment on 15 new blogs a day, every day, for the 31 days of January. Mostly for fun, but also to attract some more visitors to my blog, because it’s always fun to have more friends. I accomplished this goal, and made 465 new WordPress friends. Well, maybe not that many, since not everyone followed me back (you know who you are), but I got an average of 4-6 follows a day, which is pretty good.

Here are some more nifty numbers for you to ponder upon:

  • My followers count jumped up to 721. I can’t remember how many followers I had prior to this project, but I was hoping for at least 1,000 followers. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
  • In terms of views, this month has been my third-most successful ever with 2,868 as of 10:07 PM CST, following February 2014 (9,228!) and March 2014 (7,230).
  • I have had visitors from every continent, and from 92 countries total, with first-time visitors from Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Aruba [as of today – welcome!], Ethiopia, The Gambia, Gibraltar, Guadeloupe, Jordan, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Mauritania, Mayotte, and Monaco.
  • From the USA, I have had visits this month from 46/50 states. I guess the fine people of North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming had better things to do.
  • Several six-continent days including today, where I welcomed North America (Canada, USA, Mexico, and Aruba), South America (Colombia), Europe (UK, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands), Africa (Tanzania), Asia (India, Indonesia, Japan, and Philippines), and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).

I know what you’re all thinking now…my Reader must be going crazy. Not so much, though; As I followed blogs each day, I unfollowed some others. I’m hovering around 900 right now, but will probably weed out some over time that don’t capture my interest. I don’t like deleting any blogs, but if I just want to kick back and read some stuff, I don’t want to be constantly bombarded with new posts showing up every 30 seconds. And I didn’t just follow any blog; I followed blogs that were interesting, fun, unique, unusual. People I could relate to, and people I couldn’t relate to. I only had a few criteria for deletion. I unfollowed blogs that…

  • Had been deleted by their owners. That’s simple enough.
  • Were only photos, with no captions or anything, no matter how pretty the pictures were.
  • Were primarily in a language I don’t speak.
  • Were only depressing poetry. I enjoy the occasional well-written poem, but post after post about lawn chairs, dead birds, and lost loves just don’t do it for me.
  • Had not been updated in 3 weeks or more.
  • Started preaching, or contained messages that were mostly ad hominem/ad feminem/inflammatory/indecent content.

If there was a blog that was on the fence, I would read the five most recent entries and see if they interested me, and if not, I hit the unfollow button. Oh, and if I know you in real life, you’re not getting deleted no matter what, of course. And as January is done, as is this little project. But maybe I’ll do something fun for February, like write a few comments every day or something.

Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you all, I made some especially interesting discoveries and awesome new friends, which I’ll share with you presently. I don’t normally accept awards or advertise other blogs on my blog, but just think of this as an exception because I am feeling particularly mellow and generous today.

Awesome Content

  • Andrea Reads America. This girl (whom I’m assuming is called Andrea) posts her travels to all fifty states – via literature, that is. Another list of books that I’ll probably never get to read but I’ll die trying. I started a similar list awhile back of my favorite books set in each state, but I think after about 6 states, I realized that I don’t read that many books that take place in different states or in America at all. Ambitious project, cool chick.
  • La Petite Paniere. This blog has awesome and delicious-looking French recipes that make me want to drop out of school and catch the next plane to Paris.
  • The Dictionary of Victorian Insults and Niceties. Because who doesn’t need one of those from time to time.

Awesome People

  • Aran ArtisanThere are tons of craft blogs out there, but Melissa really has a knack for it, and she is a nice person as well. Plus, she lives in the Aran Islands, which I have always wanted to visit.
  • Keep Karyn. Fun and irreverent slice of life. Karyn tells it like it is.
  • Rebekah Koontz. Another very nice person who seems like she’d make a kick-ass big sister. No offense to my own big sister.
  • That Girl in Glasses. The very day I found Adele, we had a cross-blog comment-a-thon that was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on WordPress. It also got me through the Illinois leg of the drive back to Madison. (FYI, my dad drove that one, and then I took over in Belvidere, IL, where he started telling me the horse meat story). This girl is one lovely little buttercup and I hope we are friends for a long long time.
  • The Strange HerShe calls herself Baby Ruth, and if that’s not awesome, I don’t know what is. Funny, talented, and a devotee of Taylor Swift, go visit Baby Ruth and lose yourself in her world for awhile. After you’ve read all my posts, of course.
  • Tribal Mystic is none other than Joycelin, a Papua New Guinean living in Australia. After I mentioned Nora-Vagi Brash and my admiration of her work, she told me she went to school with Nora-Vagi Brash and was friends with her which pushes her to the top of my list. Plus, she just seems like a generally nice and polite person, which I like.
  • Vodka Soda EscapadesYou had me at Vodka Soda, and kept me with fun and quirky humor.

If I forgot anyone, I am truly sorry. But to all of you who are reading this, thanks for sticking around.

Let’s fold scarves.