off topic

How to Beat Your Friends at Words With Friends Without Really Trying

Hey all you Words With Friends addicts out there! I’ve been asked in a few of my games how I score so many points, so I thought for my first post of the New Year I would share some of my strategies for racking up points. I don’t always win, but I do fairly well for myself. I’ve won all 10 of the last games I’ve played. So, here it is.

First and most important is to always aim for the bonus squares when making a word, and especially when you have a higher point letter to play like a Q or J and even if it means you only make a 2 or 3 letter word.

Secondly, play parallel to existing words on the board (rather than perpendicular), especially with the middle-value tiles like H and W. You get more points for playing 2 (or more) words at a time than for just one.

Third, don’t be afraid to guess at words right on the board by putting down letters that might look like a word. Sometimes I get lucky and make a random vocabulary word that I would never use IRL. You don’t have to have the dictionary memorized to score high on Zynga’s Words With Friends! When you’re guessing, place your higher valued tiles on the bonus squares and build from there.

Remember, winning at Words With Friends has very little to do with anagramming the biggest possible word from the tiles in your rack. It’s all about tile placement.

If you try this, let me know how it works out for you! Happy playing!

grumble · off topic


Okay, so last night Hubs and I sat down to watch a couple of episodes of Firefly and I knitted on my sweater. Dudes. IT’S STILL THE SAME LENGTH AS WHEN I STARTED! BLAAAAAAARGH!!!

In other news, the new handbag I ordered from Amazon arrived today.


life · off topic · random

Old Friend

I find myself peering at the
Profile picture you have posted
And comparing it
In my mind’s eye
To the one of us
In Yellowstone
So many years ago
Ball caps
Round pubescent faces
Hair sticking out in all directions
Could that be you?
One if my first friends
Lost but not forgotten
Found again on Facebook.

off topic · politics · rant

Adventures in Health Care

I just got back from the ER with E4 who is having a bout of croup. While I was sitting there, I had a lot of time to think, mostly about how our health care system works, or doesn’t depending on your point of view.

I knew going into the ER what we were dealing with because croup has a very distinctive sound, but since E4 was having a hard time moving air into his lungs, and since his lips were turning blue, I figured he couldn’t wait until tomorrow to see the pediatrician. Luckily, the hospital is close and we were able to be seen right away. The PA came in and had a listen to his chest and throat. He said, “yes, it sounds like croup to me. We’ll give him some humidified oxygen, and some oral steroids, and I’ll do a throat culture to make sure there isn’t an infection. He’ll be fine.” So, imagine my surprise when, about 10 minutes later, 2 x-ray techs came in to take E4 for a chest x-ray. “Really?” I asked. “Yeah,” one of them replied. “The PA just wants to make sure his lungs are clear.”

Now, I have no problem getting tests done if they are warranted, but the PA just got finished telling me that E4’s lungs sounded clear and he was pretty confident that it was croup and not pneumonia. What bothered me the most is that he just ordered the test and didn’t even mention it to me, so when the x-ray techs came in to wheel E4 away, I didn’t really have much say in the matter. I would much rather have had the PA discuss it with me before hand. I probably would have opted out, saving a chest x-ray for if his cough got worse.

I know a large part of it is that the PA was covering his butt because we live in a litigious society, but the other thing, the thing most people don’t think about, possibly the real reason that so many tests are run, is that money for health care is largely seen as someone else’s. People say, “well, my insurance will cover testing, so go ahead and run every test imaginable”. But in my case, insurance will only cover 80%. Which means I’ll end up paying 20% of the bill on a chest x-ray I’m not convinced was needed. If the PA had just talked to me about it, made me a partner in our health care decisions, we could have saved me, and my insurance company, a little money. Not to mention, we could have spared E4 (and me!) a hefty dose of unnecessary radiation.

I admit to being a huge socialist when it comes to health care. I honestly believe that we need to have a national system similar to that of Canada or the UK. That said, I also think it would help a whole lot, even within our current system, if, rather than being mindless consumers of health care, we became educated, active participants. And yes, I mean health professionals, too. If they were to stop treating patients like uneducated brainless idiots and actually had a conversation with them about their options and the reasons for doing things (or not doing things) I imagine we could make the health care system just a little less of a money pit.

The good news: E4 will be fine. I can hear him in the living room right now, fighting with his brother.

off topic · random

And now for something completely different…

Whereas today is A Day Without Cats, I offer you Puppy Can’t Get Up:

News · off topic · politics

What it is, it is.

*UPDATE* Evidently, I’m in some sort of time warp. The joint session will be Wednesday the 9th. Not today.

This evening, President Obama will address a joint session of congress to urge and encourage them to move forward with their overhaul of the US health care system. Discussions about health care reform keep popping up all over the internet, MY internet. All summer long. Ravelry, Facebook, the Fatosphere, iChat, email. To be honest, I’m starting to feel more than a little crazy with all of it. I know this is a knitting blog, I really do. And I have tried to keep posts about politics to a minimum, but I have just got to get this off my chest.

I make no secret of my progressive leanings and when it comes to health care reform, I believe the best solution would be a single payer health care system, similar to the NHS of the United Kingdom or that of Canada. Failing that, the health care industry should at least be made to be not-for-profit. I’ve heard a lot of arguments against health care reform in general and a single payer system in particular and, seriously, I can’t take it any more!

What’s that? You don’t want to pay for the poor lifestyle choices of other people? Guess what, you already do. That’s what insurance is. We all put our money in a big pot, and when someone gets sick, they get to use some of that money to pay their bill. Do you honestly think there are no smokers or fatties or whores on your insurance plan? Well there are, and probably a lot of them. And guess what, if any one of them gets cancer or diabetes or AIDS, they get to take some of the money (a little of which is yours) out of that pot to pay their doctor or to buy medicine.

What’s that? You don’t want to pay for health care for illegal aliens and/or poor people? Well guess what, you already do. When hospitals have to write off the money owed them by people who just do not have the money to pay them, they pass on the cost to those who can. The problem with the current system is not that they’re giving “free” health care to illegals and the poor, it’s that they’re not giving the same “free” health care to everyone.

What’s that? You don’t want to have rationed care? Guess what, we already do. If you have to decide between putting food on your family [sic] or buying your medication, that’s rationing. If you put off your wellness checkups (annual pap smears, e.g.) because you don’t have the money to pay your co-pays or co-insurance, that’s rationing. And to be honest, claims that a national system would lead to “rationing” are plainly, blatantly, false.

What’s that? You have to always have access to the best of the best specialists? Well frankly, not all situations require the best doctor you can get, but if your biggest concern is having access to the best doctor money can buy, then odds are you would be able to pay for that access in whatever health care system we end up with. Meanwhile, 45 million people in this country have no access to any physician. At all. Working people, naturalized and native citizens, have no access. None. Does that honestly seem okay? Forget fairness. Is that okay?

What’s that? You don’t want a government bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor?  Well, what in the holy hell would you say the insurance company bureaucrats are doing besides standing between you and your doctor? How many stories are out there of people being dropped from their insurance plan because they get sick? Don’t believe it doesn’t happen. It does. And if it happens to anyone, it can happen to you. At least if health care was paid for by our government, care would be guaranteed from cradle to grave, whether you have a job or if you get cancer. Because health care is not a privilege for the lucky, wealthy few. It is a right.

What’s that? You don’t want socialism? We already have a lot of socialism, people. We have a socialized military, roads and highways, water and sewer, schools, libraries, police/fire. We socialize the cost of these things because it improves the lives of us all. It lifts us all up. Why is national health care your last stand?

So that’s it. I’m done. I’m not going to talk about it or think about it any more. Whatever happens, happens. It is what it is.

off topic


The recent Torchwood miniseries has made me realize that it’s time to take Captain Jack and Doctor Donna down from my header. Also, if I ever meet Russell T. Davies, I might have to punch him in the balls.

life · off topic · Scrabble

Scrabble, IRL.

Back in December, Mr. Interrupted participated in a local Scrabble tourney for newcomers. The night before he challenged to a practice game.

One of the great things about Scrabble is that you can knit while playing!

off topic · random

Unique Pageant Talent

I like to think that if I were “pageant quality” (you know, like Sarah Palin), I would have a mundane, yet mindbogglingly amazing and weird talent like this.

My favorite part is where the audience claps for her holding up her leg.

food · life · nanowrimo · off topic

Thinking of Spring Pasta Bake

The stars must have been aligned–this dish was a huge hit at our house tonight.

I riffed on this recipe featured on the Rachael Ray show today. All of the ingredients came from Trader Joe’s. Here’s how I did it:

1. Prepare one pound of dried tortellini pasta according to the package directions.

2. While the pasta is cooking, steam one package of frozen asparagus and then puree.

3. Make Rachael’s béchamel sauce (omit garlic by accident and instead use one part vegetable broth and one part fat-free milk). Add pureed asparagus.

4. Toss the now very very green sauce with the pasta to coat.

5. Brown a package of tomato/basil chicken sausages (squeezed from their casings and crumbled) and add to the pasta and sauce, stirring gently.

6. Pour into a baking dish and cover with TJ’s Quattro Formaggio (about 1/2 a package). Bake at 375° for about 15 minutes until the cheese is browned and the sauce is bubbly.

I6 ate all of what he was served. E3 had two servings. Karl snarfed up a huge bowl. Angels sang.

Now it’s back to NaNoWriMo for me.