Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Colonies of Catan

The island of Catan evolved over hundreds of years. Weary settlers founded cities that would one day have their populations explode. Fields of wheat and pastures for sheep were eventually paved with concrete and decorated with skyscrapers and parking meters. The lovely forests, once thriving and healthy, were chopped to oblivion. The ore mines had all been expended.

A smoggy and grey metropolis, the island of Catan was booming with factories and shops, and was very dependent upon modern technology. Blissfully ignorant, citizens went about their daily lives, unaware that tragedy lurked just beyond the setting sun.

An asteroid was headed straight for the island. Scientists were baffled by its speed and didn’t see it coming until it was too late. There was little time to warn others to evacuate. Much of the island perished.

Now survivors must rebuild by using only what's left of the island to help them. A new world order has begun where it’s a race for resources and a fight to keep what’s rightfully yours. In this post-apocalyptic version of Settlers of Catan, players must recolonize the island, avoid being raided by marauders, and do their best to live off the grid.

Come play The Colonies of Catan.

Except you can't because of intellectual copy-write laws.

After spending a solid week of creating and designing my Settlers of Catan spin-off, I was told by the company The Game Crafter (a site that helps you create custom games and cards) that it was illegal for them to print a single copy of my game and I had to make changes or else provide express written consent from someone at Mayfair Games and their contact information for verification.

So I changed the name of my game to Colonies of Kazzah and that seemed to do the trick because my game has been shipped and I'm expected to get it by the end of the week. The game costs $65.31 to print one copy. It costs $30.60 to ship it to Canada. Not very cost effective, but I look forward to playing my prototype with friends. And if it's any good, maybe I will try to sell it at some point in the future.

So come play The Colonies of Kazzah!

Monday, May 27, 2013


We were young teens having a sleepover at my house in Ste. Anne. It was a beautiful night out, so we decided to sneak out after midnight and go for a walk. It was something I'm sure we'd done together before. I'd even done it by myself. We weren't going to vandalize property or make any trouble, we just wanted to walk around a dark, ghost-town, giggling and talking in hushed tones.

I lived just outside of town. Not even 15 minutes after leaving did we reach the edge of town and turn down a family friendly street I often rode my bike down. Suddenly there was a van coming up fast behind us. We moved to the side of the street and the van pulled up a few yards ahead and blocked our path. The sliding door opened and I could see the back seats had been removed. There were so many beer cans that they fell out of the van as several older, drunk guys we didn't recognize ambled toward us.

Frozen on the spot, my fight or flight response hadn't kicked in yet. I just stared at them trying to figure out who they were and what they wanted. I quickly became afraid, but I couldn't look away or move. I didn't even notice my friend had started to back up until she yelled out to me. Chelsea! Run!

It just so happened that we were beside our classmate's house and I followed my friend as she ran up to the door and started banging on it, whispering to herself, please answer the door, please answer the door. Our classmate's mom opened the door looking very annoyed. My friend begged her to let us inside and pointed toward to the boys. The drunk guys took the hint and piled back into the van and sped off. The mom scolded us for being out late, accused us of causing trouble and quite rudely told us to go back home.

I was still pretty shocked, but we quickly scurried back to the main road that would lead us home, trying to stay out of the light and constantly on the look-out for the van. We saw headlights and hid in a ditch. It was dry and the grass was long. There was no street light, so we were well hidden. It was the van. We thought maybe they were circling back, looking for us, so we just stayed in the ditch, but the van drove away and we never saw it again. My fucking heart was pounding so hard, I was panting.

We hurriedly walked in the ditches the rest of the way home, completely on edge, and when we got to my yard we ran as fast as we could to the front door and got inside. We turned off all the lights and hid out in my spare room. She curled up on the bed and I was across from her in the swivel chair. The computer monitor was our nightlight. Every so often my friend would peer through the blinds. I was still so stunned. I said, we almost got raped or something. If you hadn't called my name....

It was one of those moments where I wanted to laugh out loud with relief, like we got away with something and it was exhilarating, except it was so freaky, I didn't know how to react. The realization that something bad could have happened to us blew my mind.

We didn't talk much about it and I never told my parents.

May 25th was Missing Children's Day. The RCMP has some tips on how to street-proof your kids and after reading them I think my mom taught me well. We had a code word. I knew who to call and where to go if there was ever an emergency or if I was in danger. I was taught it's okay to talk to strangers, but not okay to go with them. I was taught to kick, hit, bite, anything to get away from someone trying to take me and to scream out loud, He's not my dad! She's not my mom! We played license plate games.

But when I was frozen in that spot, watching those guys clamber out of that van, it was like everything I learned was out the window. If my friend hadn't called out my name, who knows what would have happened. Maybe nothing. But there's the very slim chance I could have died. You never know what people's motives are. Especially drunk people.

I think of my sweet, little baby with her angelic face and I just want to drill her with my version of stranger-danger information until her ears bleed. I want her to sneak out of the house after midnight and take a breezy stroll in the summer air with friends because I know how fun it is, but I also hope that if she's ever in a situation like I was in with my friend, she'll take after my friend and not me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

This is a Bitch-Fest

So fucking annoyed with life right now.
My GPS replacement I ordered still hasn't come in the mail and I can't get a hold of a human on the telephone and I can't create an account online like the telephone operator suggested because every time I try to create the account, it says there's a duplicate file. Every time I try to log in, it says I'm not registered. What the fuck? I emailed someone, but we'll see how long that takes to get a response.

I owe the government nearly a thousand dollars. When Bob and I declared that we were living common law as of September when we filed our taxes, all that money the government gave me is now being taken back. My savings account is totally depleted. What a huge mistake it was to tell them the truth.

Tesla's photo shoot is costing us more money than we can afford and it was supposed to cost us nothing.

I deep cleaned the carpets and couch and the next day Tesla decided to start randomly puking again. All that work is ruined.

I spend all day cleaning up the kitchen and at the end of the day it's a fucking disaster again. Laundry is a perpetual cycle of bullshit that I can never keep on top of because we literally don't have enough quarters. I keep smelling "cat" and I don't know what to do to get rid of that animal smell in the air.

Everywhere I look there is a mess, toys, clutter, disorganized shit. I'm worried about my grandma, I'm worried about my dad, I'm worried about Bob. My daycare is stressing me out. I just want to drink 2 bottles of wine, cry, and then take a month long all-expense paid vacation to somewhere beautiful and exotic, where there are no children, and I don't have to lift a finger.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Lesson in Self-Control

Some people's parenting.... Some woman punished her daughter by sending her to school wearing ugly clothes. Read about it here. The jist of the story is that the daughter had been making fun of another girl's outfits at school. She told her that her shorts and tank top made her look sleazy and was teasing her about it for almost a month. The school deemed this behavior to be bullying and told the parents about it.

The step-mom didn't think grounding her judgmental daughter was enough since the daughter stood by her convictions that the classmate was dressed in poor taste and deserved to know about it. The step-mom decided to bring her to the thrift store and bought a few of the outfits that her daughter deemed ugly.

Then she made the daughter wear these outfits to school. Then she took pictures of her daughter wearing these outfits and posted them on Facebook.

The girl was so embarrassed and was obviously teased like crazy by her classmates. She felt so bad, she apologized to the girl she was bullying and thanked her mom for teaching her such a valuable lesson.


Are you fucking kidding me? This is a much better punishment than making your kid hold a grammatically incorrect sign on the side of the road for a few hours, but it's still a terrible punishment and I don't think it really fits the crime.

When you get down to it, the daughter's crime was her lack of self-control. She opened her big, fat mouth and made hurtful comments to another person's face. If she had self-control, she would have kept her hurtful comments to herself, or maybe shared them with a friend when they had a moment of privacy so they could giggle and gossip out of earshot.

She is entitled to think that the girl's wardrobe is sleazy. She is not entitled to tell her that. That is the lesson she needs to learn.

Dressing her up in hideous clothing and sending her out into the world isn't a punishment and doesn't teach her self-control. Maybe she'll stop bullying that girl forever, maybe she'll finally realize what it feels like to be on the receiving end of teasing, but she wasn't being teased for being herself. She was being teased for wearing a costume to school which is totally out of the ordinary and a one-time deal. It's not an organic life-lesson.

What would I do if it was Tesla? I would probably give her a normal punishment like taking some privileges away and we would definitely talk about what it means to be tactful. I wouldn't force her to apologize, but I would request she do it. I would never publicly shame her by sending her to school in a ridiculous get-up and taking pictures to post online and blackmail her with later. People are sick.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A and F For The Homeless

I'm sure you've all heard about the Abercrombie and Fitch news from last week about how CEO, Mike Jeffries, made some comments a few years ago that his brand is exclusionary and only marketed to the cool kids

Enter Greg Karber. He made a nice little video about the whole thing and then decided to do a little unauthorized re-branding for the company to help out its image. Check it out!

This video is awesome! I don't consider it to be social activism, I just think it's funny! What a hilarious and unique way to put Mike Jeffries in his place. I don't think homeless people are losers, but I'm sure Jeffries does. None of the people on that street looked like they were going to sign any modelling contracts any time soon. They definitely don't look like your average A and F wearers. It just goes to show that anybody can have whatever they like and it doesn't matter what demographic you belong to.

It's so silly because we all know it comes down to money. It doesn't matter how fat and ugly you are, if you've got the money, you can walk in and buy whatever you like. If Jeffries was serious about excluding those who he didn't think fit the A and F image, he would have some sexy looking guards standing by to turn away those people so they couldn't even enter the store.

I've never worn any clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch before. It's not my style. If I ever come across any Abercrombie and Fitch apparel while off on one of my Value Village binges, I'm totally going to be it and donate it!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cheating The System

I sort of got into an argument with my father-in-law on Mother's Day. It wasn't heated, just a heavy disagreement. He was upset about some insurance claim he filed. He didn't receive all the money back he expected to receive and he was fighting with them to get that money he thought was rightfully owed to him. When I heard his story, (and the ways he was planning to get the money) I felt as though he was trying to cheat the system and that he wasn't owed that money at all. This did not impress him.

Without going into the details of his particular case, I submit to you an alternate case, one drummed by my father-in-law to prove his point.

You have a $200 prescription to fill at a major retailer. You know you will be reimbursed 100% for the prescription. You decide to pay for half of the amount due with a gift card and the other half with cash. When you submit your claim and receipt to the insurance company, they only reimburse you for $100. Do you think you should be entitled to receive cash back for the gift card you spent?

I think no. The insurance company agrees with me and said they will only reimburse you if you can prove that you bought the gift card yourself.

Here are my reasons for siding with the insurance money:
  • When you buy a gift card, you are buying store credit. Store credit is not cash out of your pocket. It's prepaid. It's cash out of some other person's pocket, (unless you bought your own gift card.) Ergo, the insurance company isn't going to reimburse you for money that isn't yours.
  • Gift cards cannot usually be redeemed for cash, only product at the store. Most gift cards actually have that printed right on them. When you pay for a prescription with a gift card, getting reimbursed is like getting cash back for it from the insurance company. That's illegal.
Here are the reasons my father-in-law thinks he should be owed that money.
  • Gift cards act like cash, so they should be treated like cash by insurance companies.
  • It shouldn't matter what method you pay for something, you should receive what you are entitled to when asking to be reimbursed by an insurance company.
He also feels like the money has been stolen from him and the insurance company is "richer" because of this gift card scandal. He feels so strongly that he is right, he's willing to go to court over the matter. He's the type of person who would follow through on that statement too.

I feel like the only person who's out money is the person who bought the gift card. Everyone else is all squared up. I also feel like the insurance company saved some money, but they didn't actually gain any money. The retailer is the only place that gained any money.

So, I emailed the Consumer Protection Office to find out what they had to say on the matter and I never heard back from them. EDIT: I just heard back from them! They suggested I contact the Insurance Branch of the Government as they deal with complaints regarding insurance. Or to just contact the insurance branch who denied the claim in the first place to review their policy.

I tried finding more information online, but when I ran various phrases in the search engine nothing relevant came back. I posted the question in Yahoo! Answers and had 2 people tell me that I was right, but they didn't cite any references.

My father-in-law is in a losing battle and should give up on the issue and take it as a learning experience. I've never been in his situation before, but now I know never to pay for something with a gift card if I want to be reimbursed by an insurance agency. There's no sense trying to cheat the system and figure out a way to get that money through illegal loopholes. At the end of the day, he still hasn't lost any money and everybody's squared.

Friday, May 10, 2013


Surly you all know the story of Ariel Castro by now. He kidnapped 3 women and held them as prisoners for a decade. He also raped, starved, and beat them. Then they recently escaped and now it's a big media frenzy.

I love reading the comments under articles. Under articles about Ariel Castro, many people wish ill-will unto him. When they do the math, they think that torturing 3 women for 10 years equals a punishment of 30 years of torture for Castro to endure to make things even. In order to pay for his crimes, apparently he must go through similar or worse torture than he inflicted upon his victims.

Did I not get the memo about ordinary humans having control of the universe's karma?

I posted my own comment under the name Ribbon about how everyone seemed to have really unrealistic expectations for Castro's future and I got some backlash. I guess my comment was misunderstood because people said some weird stuff that didn't really make sense or pertain to my post.
So there you have it.
I am rational and reasonable so therefore I am just as sick and twisted as Ariel Castro is! Could you imagine if we tried to avenge others on top of seeking out our own revenge on those who have seemingly done us wrong for every day life? The amount of road-rage, broken bones, murder, and tears would be seemingly endless.

Imagine someone bumped into you, so you bumped him back, but you bumped too hard and he fell. So then he pushed you over to even things out and you broke your wrist. So now you have to even that out and you grab a hammer and smash this stranger's wrist so it breaks and you're even. Or someone could bump into you and apologize and you could forgive him instead of letting the situation escalate into a serious one-upmanship contest.

In reference to Castro, a simple 'I'm sorry' just isn't going to cut it for those poor women, but trying to punish him by inflicting the same pain on him as he did to others isn't going to solve anything, it isn't going to make the world a better place, and it makes us stoop to his level.

Just because he violated the rights of 3 women doesn't mean he deserves to have his rights violated also. It's a very hard concept for some people to wrap their heads around, but reading the idiotic comments under that article makes me feel as though I've been cut from the cloth of superior intellect.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Photo Shoot

My little baby had a professional photo shoot. You can see a sneak peak on the photographer's blog and she's the first picture called Hair Envy. I encourage you to leave a comment on her picture because if I get 20 comments from 20 different households, I'll get a free 8X10 picture!

I'm going to be honest, the big picture bothers me. Her collar isn't straight, one of her bows is slipping out of her hair... Tesla's cute and has a nice expression, but I hate that picture. I would never hang it up. Those little details drive me crazy.

The whole experience of the photo shoot was good. It went by fast. The photographer didn't give me any direction at all. It's hard to jump in to primp the model when I don't know if I'm going to wreck a good photo or not. For me, it's all about the little things. Her bow being crooked and her flipped collar drives me nuts. A good photographer would notice that and have me fix it so we could take a nice picture. I can take candid shots of my kid looking sloppy at home. For free.

I'm upset that I never noticed these small details during the shoot. I would have fixed it! I was spending my time trying to keep Tesla calm. She was tired and wasn't giving big smiles or acting happy during the shoot. There were a few moments of happiness the photographer seemed to catch, but I'm just so picky, I hope there are better shots than what the sneak peak has to offer.

I would rather have a professional picture of Tesla screaming with perfect hair and clothes and background then Tesla smiling with messed up styling. Is that weird? There are too many "professional" pictures taken of me when I was a kid where I look straight up fucking dorky. Pictures where my hair looks dumb or I'm positioned weird. Why did no one try to make me look nice?

Perhaps I'm projecting my child-hood issues onto my daughter. Perhaps it's because I dated a photographer who was very good at his hobby and now I'm biased. (Actually, I know I'm biased. Not many photographers meet my standards.) Or perhaps it's because I have a semi-related background to photography, which is video, and I know how important it is to look at what's in your frame and tell someone their tie is crooked or their bangs are sticking up.

The photographer had set up a shot where Tesla's stuffed animals were in the background. Tesla threw them around immediately and the photographer never fixed it. She kept trying to take pictures and I kept thinking, what are these pictures going to look like? I went over and fixed the animals myself because I wasn't really happy with how that part of the photo shoot was going. I just had to trust the photographer knew what she was doing.

When Tesla had a huge melt down toward the end of the shoot, I requested she take pictures of it. I thought it would be funny to hang a screaming picture of Tesla on the wall. Everyone always tries so hard to get their babies to smile for pictures. Tesla wasn't in the mood, so let's just work with what we've got. Plus, Tesla's kind of cute when she's angry.

So go leave a comment! I want that free 8X10!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Week of Groceries

Bob and I are doing this new thing as of yesterday where we only buy a weeks worth of groceries at at time instead of doing 2 major shops a month and a bunch of random little shops every week. Bob and I are both bad for letting food go to waste. I waste meat. I thaw a couple pieces of chicken and they sit in the fridge, and they sit in the fridge, and they sit in the fridge. Finally it's no good and I chuck it. I'm pretty bad for wasting cereal too. I always buy it and never eat it. If Bob doesn't eat it, it sits there forever and then we chuck it and buy more cereal.

Bob is really bad for wasting fresh produce. He likes taking bananas for lunch, but I always find black bananas on the counter. He goes on health kicks and requests snacking veggies, but never takes them for lunch and they go bad. I serve them to the daycare kids too but they literally eat half a baby carrot and are done. I don't even like baby carrots. They're okay I guess, but just not my thing.

I said that's enough of that. One week of groceries is all we will buy. We eat what we eat and then next week we'll know what to buy. I sat down and planned a rough menu for what we will realistically eat for our meals and what I'll serve the daycare kids. It's all mapped out, so I just need to stick to it. We went to the store last night and bought just what was on the list.

Buying only a handful of fruit of vegetables seems really odd to me. I'm so used to buying 2 dozen apples and 2 bushels of bananas and a big bag of oranges. But that's how the food goes to waste. We buy so much, anticipating that it will last us 2 weeks and then we're bored of it and it goes to waste because we stop eating it.

Our grocery bill came to $90 last night. We bought all fresh food, fruit, veg, dairy, chicken, and also crackers, granola, rice, and bread. We didn't get any cat stuff, baby stuff, toiletries, or cleaning supplies so some weeks are going to be more expensive than this one. But, for a family of 3, (that's also a family of 6 for 16 days a month if I include the daycare kids) to spend $360 - $450 a month on groceries isn't absurd. In Canada, the average household of 2.5 people will spend $500 - $600 a month on groceries according to Discovery Finance.

I could reduce my grocery bill by switching yogurt brands and that sort of thing, but price isn't everything. Nutritional value is most important to me. I don't want to buy a yogurt where the second ingredient is sugar. If it costs $2 extra, so be it. I love yogurt, I eat it every day and I feed it to my daughter, so I may as well eat a brand that has less sugar. (Or make my own, but I'm not up for that challenge yet!)

At the end of the month, we'll see how much we spent, we'll see how much food we wasted, and we'll see if we're any further ahead. I think we will be.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lay Off Barbie Already!

Barbie dolls are always getting shit on. People just love to make "real" versions of her and compare her to normal women like this site about eating disorders. Apparently playing with Barbies makes young girls feel bad about their body image. Apparently they've done studies and tests and Barbies are controlling the minds of tweens and younger!

Growing up, I loved playing with Barbies. I had many, many Barbie dolls and lots and lots of clothes. My friends and I had so much fun and would play for hours. Not once did Barbie make me want to diet. Not once did Barbie make me think I was fat. She was just a toy that I played with. Look at some of the other dolls out there today compared to Barbie.
Barbie, Bratz, and Monster High

They all look deformed. At the top we have World Barbies and then at the far right, a more traditional looking Barbie. At the bottom we have Bratz dolls and Monster High dolls. At least Barbie has a friendly face and doesn't look like she's got an attitude problem.

Cabbage Patch kids don't look like real kids. Not all of the Disney princesses are realistic looking either. Lalaloopsy dolls are pretty freaky looking. Polly Pocket looks kind of normal, but the eyes, head, and feet look a little too big compared to the body.
Lalaloopsy Dolls

The only realistic dolls I could find were ones of babies. Unrealistic looking toys are what children play with. Remember all that fake, plastic food we used to pretend to cook and eat? It hasn't gotten any more realistic looking. Maybe kids would eat more vegetables if they had realistic fake salad to play with?

Barbie isn't the problem. Barbie isn't turning our little girls into anorexics. It starts with moms and dads. Moms and dads should promote a healthy lifestyle in front of their kids and exhibit healthy eating and exercise habits. They should also watch what they say around their kids regarding dieting and poor body image. I hate it when Bob comments on other people's weight or appearance on TV. I don't want Tesla to grow up hearing that message from her parents. She doesn't know he's making a (rude) joke or being sarcastic.

Children hear things and internalize it without fully knowing what it means at the time. I was babysitting a girl, about 10, one summer and the song Short Skirt Long Jacket by Cake was really popular. She was watching the music video and she said to me, Hey I should be taking notes. She wasn't kidding. I was in high school at the time and didn't think to explain to her that one song does not define what every man on the planet thinks is sexy and shouldn't define how she feels about herself. Christ, I was still trying to figure that out for myself!

But I think kids with high self-esteem are going to be less affected by pop songs and sexualized dolls and whatever else demonic that's out there because they like who they are. One of the many jobs of parents is to help their kids feel confident and good about themselves and promote good health.

I like what Barbie promotes. She doesn't wear heavy make-up. She's well traveled and very adventurous. She loves girly things like clothes and hair, but she also very athletic and plays a wide range of sports. She's a professional, dabbling in medicine, teaching, and cooking. She loves animals. On top of it all, she happens to be thin and has ties to royalty.

The Bratz dolls "have a passion for fashion" and the Monster High dolls are freaky looking high school students that are actually monsters and live among humans? I know a 7 year old that plays with these dolls. That seems way more inappropriate than Barbie in my opinion.

If a little girl doesn't want to become Barbie, she'll probably wish she was a Bratz doll, or a Monster High doll, or a Polly Pocket, or a Strawberry Shortcake, or a princess, or a fairy, or a mermaid, or a witch at Hogwarts... I remember wishing and wishing that I could grow up and be a boy. I wanted to look like a boy and I wished for boy parts. I'm not sure what got fucked up in my childhood to make me think that way, but it worked itself out by puberty. Today I am proud to be a woman and I don't dream of having a sex change and my body image is totally normal. No eating disorders or cross dressing for me!

A boy at my daycare wants to be like The Hulk. Oh no! What if he grows up wanting to be a body builder?! How will he feel when he realizes it's unlikely he'll ever be that muscular and tall and green? What if he takes steroids to achieve his desired results? Ban all Superhero toys! Our boys' body images are at stake!

So stupid right?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Jonathan Hobin: In The Playroom

I love my Yahoo! articles and this one I read this morning was really interesting. Jonathan Hobin is a photographer from Ottawa and he did a series of photos where children reenacted various shocking news headlines. Here's a video to watch.

I thought the collection was really good, and if you go to his website you can see the whole collection titled In The Playroom.

Something that really stuck with me from his interview was when he said that children learn through play and they learn to process things by reenacting them. It's so true. When you watch a child play house, a girl pretending to be a mom doesn't act like a stereotypical mom, she acts like her mom because she doesn't know anything else.

When I think about the world today, I think this is the new normal. Bombings, random public shoot-outs, threat of war... it's really the new normal. Hobin says that children might be better equipped to survive the emotional side of what's happening at this age then we are as adults. They don't know any other world. It's a scary time we live in, but the world has always been scary, just for different reasons. Every generation thinks the next generation has it worse off.

I think Hobin's photographs are funny, yet they give me chills. The pictures are so detailed, I just have to laugh out loud, and the look on all the children's faces is super eerie. Why not play 9/11? Why not play a nice game of make believe cult? Kids already play fantasy war games and superhero games, and those are just as violent and scary as the news headlines depicted in Hobin's work.

The content of the Saturday morning cartoons have come a long way, (ACME anvils anyone? - Another post on that later) but try as we might, children are still exposed to the real horrors of the world and we can't shield them from everything. Nor should we. I'll admit, it would be weird if I saw some kids reenacting The Boston Marathon bombing while playing at the park, but that shouldn't stop us from explaining the news to our kids in a way that will enlighten them.