May 2008


Thursday I was at my FLGS, The Game Depot AZ. I’m there so often visiting my friends, the owners of the store, that the Thursday crowd seems quite convinced that I work there. Common mistake I guess, as I you will often find me behind the counter, but I honestly am not employed there. I’ve had offers, but I prefer to keep The Game Depot my place of entertainment, rather than employment. We joke about me being their intern, as I will often grab Cokes for customers, answer questions about games when I can, and help stock the new shipments. I get paid with good conversation, and an air-conditioned environment in which to play games with my meeps.

But I digress. Thursday, I jokingly said to my friends Patty and Dave, “Let’s play a game!” knowing the great irony is that they don’t get to play when they work, even though it’s a game store. Just a few moments later a couple of guys came in trying to find a “Mom game” for one of their mothers for, you guessed it, Mother’s Day. Patty and I set about trying to find the perfect game. It had to be fun, light, but not too light. There had to be some substance, but you still wanted to be able to socialize, so it couldn’t be too thinky.

In honor of the experience, and of course Mother’s Day, I thought I’d post a list of what we came up with and maybe even add a few of my own if I become inspired at some point in the next few minutes.

Parlay – This is a card game that’s a cross between Scrabble and Poker. Your have a standard playing card deck. Each card has the added bonus of having a letter on it.  Not only do you have to come up with the best possible Poker hand, but also the highest possible point-value word. You can’t rely too heavily on either the word or the Poker hand, so neither the card sharks nor the Scrabble players are at an advantage. This, I believe, is what makes it safe for the whole family, and would keep the Moms happy.

Apples to Apples – This is a popular party game. There are two types of cards: red apples and green apples. You have a hand of red apples that have random nouns on them. The Judge plays a green card, which is a description. You try to win green apples by cleverly playing your red apples. Everyone plays the red apple card from their hand (face down) that they think the the Judge will proclaim best describes the green apple in play. For example, the Judge plays “Corrupt”. The players throw in their cards. The Judge shuffles them up and lays them out. We giggle over the crazy selection: Milk, Gym Socks, The Dalai Lama, Killer Bees, and Canada. Maybe the Judge is a Mom with a teenage boy. Gym Socks is the clear winner. The player who threw in Gym Socks wins the green apple. Whatever the Judge says goes. You can try to convince the Judge for and against certain cards. If someone else had been the Judge, and they were lactose intolerant, Milk may have won. Knowing your judge is key. The next player then becomes the Judge, and the game continues.

Qwirkle – This has been described as “Caveman Scrabble”. It’s an apt description. You have tiles with six colors and six shapes on them. High score wins. Players take turns laying tiles to earn points. To lay down tiles they must match either in color or in shape, with no duplicates. The playing area ends up looking a lot like a crossword puzzle made of colorful, geometric shapes, hense “Caveman Scrabble”.

Pickomino – More tiles to lay. These have pictures of worms on them. Cute little cartoon worms. I know, Mom, they can’t be cute enough to get you to play, but other Moms might like them. Everyone takes turns rolling dice, and trying to get the most worms. Each tile has a number on it, as well as a number of worms. The higher the number, the more worms. You begin by rolling all your dice. You choose one number and “freeze” all dice of that number. You then roll the remaining number of dice again, repeating the process until you can add up all the frozen dice to get what you think is the highest numbered tile you can take. You may end up not being able to take anything if the dice are working against you, or you may roll the exact number one someone else’s tile, and choose to steal it from them. It’s a press-your-luck sort of game. It’s fun, especially if yo Mama is a trash-talker.

Snatch – You know I had to mention my Snatch. My game boys love my Snatch. What can I say? ( See Item 4 to bring yourself up to speed ) Snatch is another tile-laying game. This one is all letters. Player take turns flipping tiles face up. When someone spots a word they call it out and take the tiles. Don’t get too attached to your words (which are your points, BTW). As soon as another player can spot another word they can turn your word or words into by adding at least one new letter, they can and will snatch your word. That’s right, I’ll take your Cud and pull her Leg to make my own Cudgel. If I’d spotted the S in on the table, too, I would have said so and made it Cudgels, but I didn’t and it’s too late now, because you can’t simply pluralize a word or add a prefix or suffix. You have to change the root of the word. Really, it’s good clean fun, unless you have dirty-minded people snatching words left and right.

If you’re interested, Parlay, Qwirkle, and Apples to Apples were three games we suggested. Qwirkle won. There’s a store copy of Qwirkle so Patty and I got to play…I mean we demo’d the game for the two gentlemen. They had fun and approved of the game as Mom-worthy. Oh and they also got LCR, a fancy version of it, which we didn’t need to “demo” because they’d already played that one.

Happy Mother’s Day!

So I went to urgent care last night to get this thing taken care of once and for all. What a ridiculous experience. I went on my insurance plan’s website to find an in-network urgent care and only came up with one place anywhere near me. I went there and was baffled by the disbelieving looks I got while checking in. They assumed I’d been injured, and seemed mystified by my presence when I told them why I was there. I had to ask, “This is urgent care, right.” For the record, they said yes.

So, as I’m sitting in the waiting room, I notice this really doesn’t look like the average urgent care, upon closer inspection. There are none of those posters telling you how you can beat cold and flu season. In fact no one is sick. There don’t seem to be any urgent cases at all. Everyone there seems to be getting a workman’s comp check-up or a drug test. Hmm…well they checked me in, I thought. Even though they had a hard time figuring out my insurance, there’s still a doctor somewhere behind that door. I’ll be fine.

Some 12-year-old with a stethoscope came and walked me down the hall.  What? They aren’t going to weight me? They always weigh me. That’s odd. Oh well, that’s not such a big deal I suppose. The 12-year-old then starts asking my permission to take my pulse, my temp, and my blood pressure. I know I’m scary, but that only tends to be if you know me. Most people who’ve just met me think I’m quiet and shy. This guy seemed scared. I think his hands were even shaking. As an after thought as he was leaving the room he says I should disrobe. I told him I didn’t think that was necessary and he left. As I’m waiting for the doc I’m struck by how this room doesn’t seem to be the normal exam room either. I didn’t have too long to think about it before the doctor showed up.

The doc comes in, and she takes a look. She says, “Oh my,” and asks what I’ve done so far. So we discuss that a bit and she tells me what she thinks she wants me to do next. She also said things like this are “trial and error” and that we won’t really know for sure what it is, but it definitely looks more fungal than like shingles. She excuses herself and says she’ll be right back with my prescription.

This part seemed to take forever. I had plenty of time to ponder the exam room. Again I noticed the absense of health posters. There was nothing showing me my inner ear, nothing reminding me to wash my hands, nothing from a pharmaceutical company promising an end to allergy symptoms. Wait…washing my hands…there’s no sink! I’ve never been in an exam room without a sink. In fact there are no tongue depressors, no cotton balls, no cotton swabs. What’s up with this place? Then I look at the exam table itself. It, too, is odd. It’s really just a tall, padded bench, and it’s really beat up. I also notice how grimey the place looks. Maybe it’s just dingy. Either way I was glad to see the variety of sanitizers on the counter.

An eternity later, the doctor comes back and says she spoke with her colleagues. They got out the dermatology books and went through the photos. They all agree that it looks fungal (no one else saw me), and they decided on a course of action for me. I should take Benedryl so I can sleep (I never said I was having trouble) and apply a cream twice a day. If the rash gets worse they were wrong about the fungus and I should switch to an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream. That’s reassuring. They have no clue what kind of fungus it is, but they know it looks fungal, and they know that I should use this cream.

As the doc and I are walking out of the exam room she tells me that she’s sorry she can’t be more specific but they just don’t see a lot of urgent care cases there. I told her this was the only urgent care listed on my insurance. “Oh. That’s not good,” was her response. She then asks me if I have any idea where I got this thing. Really? The doc’s asking me? (“Oh. That’s not good,” is still echoing in my ears) I told her about Carrier Monkey (see last post). She confirms that it could definitely be ringworm, but she just can’t be sure.  Thanks again, Carrier Monkey. I’m really looking forward to the Hep A you’re bringing Friday.

I’m not sure what date it’s going to say when I post this, now that I think about it, but trust me, it’s still Cinco here. Nope, I didn’t go out tonight. Not only is it a work night, but here in AZ it’s Amateur Night. Not as bad as New Year’s mind you, but it’s probably give St. Patrick’s Day a run for its money (at least around here). I of course am not begrudging anyone their heritage. I just preferred to stay off the roads.

So here’s a question. Why do carrier monkeys who still have sick time left insist on hacking and coughing right next to me at work? I know I can’t really blame anyone else if my immune system is compromised enough to get me sick, but you know what’s really going to top off a whole day of listening to said carrier monkey moaning and groaning, and telling me how miserable she is because she has a cold? No, it’s not my little cough and the carrier monkey saying, “Uh oh! Sounds like someone’s getting sick!” (although it was said with a little too much glee). It’s the carrier monkey asking to see the patch of suspected Shingles I’m concerned about, that horrified look on her face, and the way she said, “Are you sure that’s not ringworm?” Did she really just ask me that? Remember a month ago, Carrier Monkey, when you told me you have ringworm and I told you that you need to go home because it’s really contagious? Yeah, you didn’t go home then either. Thanks. Say, maybe you can bring Hepatitis A to the potluck Friday.