Sunday, April 25, 2010

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in FarmVille

Dr. Weakly has been studying my mind diligently for over a year, and has decided that it may be interesting enough to write about. He says, if I am willing to participate, there is a good possibility that he will be nominated for the Distinguished Scientist award. The annual conference will be held in October this year, at Minneapolis City Center Marriott. I agreed to participate immediately, if only to visit an exotic location like, Minneapolis, and I hear the Marriott’s are fantastic.

This week, our study was narrowed down to researching insight as the product of internal processes. Doctor Weakly is determined to find out if some of my bright ideas are inspired by cultural artifacts, external objects or perhaps secretly implanted by aliens while I am sleeping. I told him that the alien theory is not possible since, for the last ten years, I have been sleeping with a thought screening helmet that I fashioned from a 1920’s flapper hat and lined it with Velostat. I found instructions on an Internet website that provided potential abductees the sorely needed defense against telepathic wars being waged by evil doing aliens. I agreed to bring my helmet to our next session so he could examine it.

Dr Weakly also asked me to sit in a darkened room, actually I think it was his broom closet, for an hour, which was the length of an entire session. I sat in the straight-back wooden chair and stared into a 60 watt light bulb hanging at eye level. Dr. Weakly explained that the light bulb is an external object that is imbued with learned meaning. He gave me a pad of paper and asked me to attempt to answer an unsolved mathematical question, do odd perfect numbers exist?

I stared into the light bulb for a full fifty-eight minutes before writing the sentence, since it is people who have determined that numbers are even or odd, all numbers are perfect. We must not allow other people’s opinions to color our self image. Numbers needn’t feel as if they are odd just because they have been labeled as such. They are not odd. They are just numbers.

My confident smile disappeared when Dr. Weakly’s eyebrows flew up after reading my answer. He glared at me and explained that the mathematical question he gave me involved positive integers, restricted divisor function and proper divisors. “The first few perfect numbers are, six, twenty-eight, four hundred ninety-six and eight thousand one hundred twenty-eight,” he said. “Anyone with half a brain knows that.” I willed myself to stop crying once he had finished his twenty minute lecture on comprehending the English language. At least he was kind enough to drive me home. It took a full three days for my retinas to recover from the experience. Thankfully, the blob I was seeing has gone from forest green to cyan and I have assurance from my Ophthalmologist that my color blindness will correct itself in time.

I woke up early this morning and was excited about an insight I had received during my REM cycle. It wasn’t alien in nature, and it seemed to agree with Dr. Weakly’s theory about cultural artifacts acting as a catalyst for insight. I realized that everything of value that I have learned in the last year is due to playing FarmVille!

This insight was as exciting as the realization I had when I read, The Introvert Advantage, by Marti Olsen Laney. I took her test and found I was 98% introvert. It was as if someone opened my mental jail cell and let me out. I learned that my neurotransmitters are set up differently than those of an extrovert. In the words of Temple Grandin, “I’m different…not less.” Be still my happy heart!

FarmVille has taught me that you can’t put two bulls in one dairy farm. How insightful is that? Helping your neighbor often brings gifts, the golden rule no less. Never plow and plant at the same time, it takes too long. With experience come large tanks of gas. I’m sure we can all agree on that. Just because I never heard of Patty pan Squash doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Manuel harvesting can lead to index finger cramping from clicking the mouse. I’m thinking of buying an index finger glove. If you don’t set your livestock to ‘stay’, they will run away. Too bad there isn’t a real setting for children and husbands. You can mute the farm noises if they make you crazy. Again, wouldn’t this be a nice feature to use on the neighbor’s barking dogs and annoying people? Make the most use of the size farm that you have, parcel constraints must be considered. It doesn’t matter how many houses you own, you will still be standing in the middle of your crops when you return to the game. It’s much easier to plow, plant and harvest if you use the proper equipment. Putting all your chickens in one coop will save you loads of time when collecting eggs. Stabilizing your horses is a good idea. Dairy farms bring in big ‘Moola’. Pea crops are the most lucrative. Peas on earth is the lesson here. Holidays in FarmVille last much longer than one day. Something we should all practice. Always honor a neighbor’s request. You can find just as much fertilizer on your Facebook home page as you will find in FarmVille.

And last, but not least, I have found a wonderful secret for leveling up faster. Sorry, I will keep that one to myself. I don’t want Dr. Weakly, who has ten times more FarmVille cash than I do to get ahead of me.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Buyers Remorse? Don’t Worry…You’ll Be Okay

I have a friend who absolutely refuses to buy a microwave oven. She actually believes that they aren’t good for your health. Silly girl. She has not, to her knowledge, been exposed to the psychotelemetric influence. Of course, if she or anyone has ever sent food back to a restaurant kitchen because it wasn’t warm enough, has experienced the joy of eating microwaved food.

I asked her, “Do you actually believe there is a conspiracy that has formed, plotting to mass kill people via their household appliances?”

“No,” she said, “It’s not a conspiracy, it’s just ignorance, greed for business, and negligence”.

I thought, if she is right, practically everyone on planet Earth should be gravely ill or have mental retardation. Shock began to set in, but I consoled myself with the rationalization that newspaper headlines are the only thing confirming this.

I decided to do a little research on the subject to enlighten her. Surely, science has found some redeeming value to microwave ovens. Sadly, my research has proven her right, or perhaps partially right, maybe having a sliver of truth to it, or damn it, it’s just her harebrained opinion. Besides, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

What I found was long-term exposure to microwave transmissions can cause loss of memory, concentration, emotional instability, and a decrease of intelligence. It seems that microwave transmissions actually ‘short out’ electrical impulses in the brain. It causes a breakdown of the human “life-energy field”, in other words, it messes with your Chi.

This brought to mind my recent visit to a Del Taco drive-thru. In a louder than necessary voice, I ordered a long list of items from the El Pollo Loco menu. You can imagine my frustration when the employee questioned my selections. This could be a sign of a decrease in intelligence on my part (or hers), and also a display of emotional instability, since I threatened to call 911 when she refused to fill my order.

I began to wonder if my suppressed emotional threshold, slowing of intellectual processes and interrupted sleep had anything to do with the heating of my lima bean-tater tot casseroles. Since I am not conducting an official poll as to possible side-effects other households may be experiencing, I only have my own knowledge to supply information and I don’t own a dose meter to measure microwaves.

Not long ago, it was suggested to me that I have a self-absorbed nature. “It’s not that you think too highly of yourself, or too little of yourself, but that you think constantly of yourself. You are just too full of yourself”… but, who else would you be filled with, if not yourself?

Further Internet meanderings directed me to other warnings like, air fresheners that foul the air, causing severe pulmonary and sensory irritation, our water supply is sterilizing men because of the number of women peeing out the residue of the birth control pills, and the most recent warning issued by Samsung, that 3D tv’s may cause, altered vision, involuntary eye-muscle twitching, disorientation, nausea, cramps and convulsions.

I can only imagine future generations laughing while they say, “Can you believe they stood directly in front of the microwave and watched the food go round and round?”

Still, I have to admit, a lack of knowledge regarding these topics is totally possible. Take for example, the atomic testing performed in the ‘50’s. Las Vegas became a tourist attraction. Mushroom clouds could be viewed from downtown hotels. My parents and their friends were among the tourists who witnessed these ‘beautiful’ billows. They didn’t know it was hazardous. All four developed cancer later in life, but that could have happened anyway.

My parents were in their forties when I was born. I often ask, “What do you get when you cross a wrinkly, old, radiation-exposed egg with a sperm infested with radiation and predisposed syndromes?”

Friday, April 2, 2010


As you know, I have been working with Dr. Neil Weakly to improve my self-esteem, social skills and behavior difficulties. After extensive discussions, psychological testing and a brain scan, Dr. Weakly is convinced that I am to some extent mentally handicapped. As difficult as it was for Dr. Weakly to deliver this diagnosis, it was equally difficult for me to hear it. Nevertheless, similar to photos, tests don’t lie.

Take for example the fact that as a child, I had much difficulty integrating myself with other children. Debbie Pratt, my childhood nemesis, made an indelible impression on me by pushing me down and throwing my sister’s, hand-me-down, gold vinyl purse with a top lift latch, into a trash dumpster. Dr. Weakly believes this event is at the root of my inability, despite my high cognitive potential, to experience empathy for others.

I have to admit, there are times when, during a rousing bridal shower, my mind wanders off to how many origami figures could be folded with the discarded gift wrappings or if I remembered to drop off my dry cleaning. This unquestioningly detracts from my empathy for the bride. My boyfriend thinks that my remoteness is due to my two divorces, but he isn’t a doctor, and I think I should have displayed more involvement in the most recent, ‘what’s in the bag?’ bridal shower game. I hadn’t even noticed that I won because I was the only guest who carries a flashlight and a hammer in my purse.

Dr. Weakly asked me if I had ever heard of Asperger Syndrome. He explained that children with AS have an unusually sophisticated vocabulary at a young age and have been called, ‘little professors’. I told him that my first words were, “do you need me to do anything for you?” and was labeled, ‘little stinker’, so I don’t seem to fall into that category. I do however display many of the symptoms that accompany the following syndromes, ADHD, OCD, MPD, SAD, CDGS, DH, EBD, MDD and RAD. I’m thinking of having them printed on my business card.

Could I possibly have Asperger’s Syndrome? It is unmistakable that I carry the family’s genetic code which caused my grandmother to become distressingly confused by sliding doors, hinged doors and revolving doors. My mother made only right hand turns when driving, no matter where she was going and my father was most adept at delivering compliments that would inevitably come out as an insult. I have to admit, he was psychic though. Whenever there was an accident like spilled milk or one of us tripping over a shoe skate, he always said, “I knew that was going to happen.”

I kept glancing at the folder containing pictures of my brain scan on my drive home from Dr. Weakly’s. I wondered about the severity of my impairment and if I would ever be able to feel comfortable in my own skin. I flipped my sun visor down and gazed at my face, strikingly void of emotion. That is, until I nearly rear ended the car stopped at the light in front of me. I don’t think I’ll ever erase the reflection of the half-chewed Snickers bar in my mouth as I screamed.

It was the conversation that I had with my boyfriend, BJ, when I came home that confused me the most. He doesn’t agree with Dr. Weakly’s diagnosis and believes I should seek another opinion. Our conversation went something like this:

BJ: How was your session?
Me: I’m autistic.
BJ: Since when?
Me: Always, I guess.
BJ: Did that quack tell you that?
Me: Dr. Weakly is not a quack.
BJ: I don’t believe you’re autistic.
Me: I repeat things.
BJ: Lots of people do that.
Me: Okay, but when I was born I had seizures for the first few weeks.
BJ: You remember that?
Me: No, my mom told me.
BJ: What else?
Me: I was a head banger.
BJ: A what?
Me: When I was a toddler, I used to bang the back of my head on the couch, over and over and over.
BJ: Why did you do that?
Me: I dunno, I guess it made me feel better.
BJ: I still don’t believe you’re autistic.
I held up the file containing the pictures of my brain.
Me: Then explain this. I pulled out the scans and showed him.
The left side, the logical side of my brain, hasn’t even updated the Walmart logo from 2008, as Dr. Weakly pointed out.
BJ laughed. This is what he based your diagnosis on? I think the MD behind his name stands for ‘Mental Disorder’.
Me: He has PhD behind his name.
BJ: Yeah, piled higher and deeper.
Me: I think you would be convinced if you saw the results of my tests. They prove I have a multiple of syndromes. I swear, acronyms are me!
BJ: OK, you can believe Dr. Quack, but I don’t think you’re any different than anyone else.
Me: Oh yeah? Even my boyfriend is an acronym!