Ugh I’m Addicted!

31 10 2009

There’s an application on Facebook that I’ve been avoiding for months, it’s Farmville.

But after being pressured also known as nagged by my lovely friend Lisa, I caved in and joined so that I could be her neighbour and allow her to “upgrade her farm”.

That was my big mistake.  I joined, I played to see what the fuss is all about, and then I got addicted.  The challenge of plowing, planting and harvesting a crop for money to build a bigger better farm was too irresistable.

It seems though that I’m not alone in my addiction, as reported by the New York Times, see below, thanks go to Davis for bringing it to my attention.


To Harvest Squash, Click Here

RASPBERRIES? In the FarmVille game on Facebook, livestock and crops take a lot of time.

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Published: October 28, 2009
AT high schools and colleges across the country, students are hard at work, tilling their land and harvesting their vegetables.

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Jim Wilson/The New York Times

PLAYING Mark Pincus, founder of Zynga, says his game company is profitable.

“It is clear this obsession with FarmVille is an issue, especially since it is taking away time from studying and schoolwork,” Danielle Susi wrote this month in The Quad News, a student newspaper at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.

Adults, too, are blaming their problems on FarmVille, an online game in which people must tend their virtual farms carefully. On blogs like FarmVille Freak (slogan: “I can’t stop watching my crops!”) and others, people share tips on fertilizer and complain about, for example, a spouse’s addiction. An anonymous blogger who said she was pregnant wrote: “I was starving … and he told me I’d have to wait a few more minutes so he could HARVEST HIS RASPBERRIES! I waited … in the car and waited for his stupid raspberries to be harvested.”

That there are actual farmers who spend less time on their crops is beside the point. FarmVille has quickly become the most popular application in the history of Facebook. More than 62 million people have signed up to play the game since it made its debut in June, with 22 million logging on at least once a day, according to Zynga, the company that brought FarmVille into the world.

Crazes on Facebook seem to come in waves — remember sheep-throwing, Vampire Wars and lists of “25 Random Things About Me?” — but devotion to FarmVille has moved beyond the social network. Players gather online to share homemade spreadsheets showing which crops will provide the greatest return on investment. YouTube is rife with musical odes to the game, including versions of its theme song. There is a “Farmville Art” movement, in which people arrange crops to resemble the Mona Lisa or Mr. Peanut. And many a promising dinner date has been cut short to harvest squash.

“I can’t hang out with any of my friends without talk of apple fields and rice paddies,” said Taylor Lee Sivils, a student at the University of California, Riverside, in an e-mail message. “I have to wait for my friends’ soybeans to grow, because we can’t chill until they’ve been harvested. All I want is to be able to go back to talking about anything tangible, but FarmVille overcomes.”

The game starts off simply: You are given land and seeds that can be planted, harvested and sold for online coins. As you accrue currency, you can buy things, from basics like rice and pumpkin seeds to the truly superfluous, like elephants and hot-air balloons. Impatient players can use credit cards or a PayPal account to buy more money, although purists tend to frown on the practice.

But like The Sims and Tamagotchi pets, FarmVille soon becomes less of a game than a Sisyphean baby-sitting assignment. Crops must be harvested in a timely fashion, cows must be milked, and social obligations — like exchanging gifts and fertilizing your neighbor’s pumpkins — must be met.

The game seems to have mesmerized people from all walks of life. Every night for the last two weeks, Jil Wrinkle, a 40-year-old medical transcriber in the Philippines, has set his alarm for 1:30 a.m., when he will wake up, roll over and harvest his blueberries.

“I keep my laptop next to my bed,” he explained by phone. “The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is harvest, then I harvest again at 10 in the morning, then again in midafternoon, then in the evening, and then again right before going to bed.”

Robert Thompson, a professor of popular culture at Syracuse University, said he had seen the craze firsthand among his students.

“Just like Guitar Hero lets you feel a little like being a rock star — you get to pose and dance a little while you’re doing it — with FarmVille there is a real sense that you’re actually doing something that has a cause and effect,” he said. “The method of dragging food out of the ground and getting something for it is really satisfying.”

FarmVille isn’t the only popular farm-theme game on Facebook. MyFarm and FarmTown, which are made by different companies, also have huge followings. Some academics have gone so far as to suggest that their collective popularity points to a widespread yearning for the pastoral life.

“The whole concept of ‘I’m sick of this modern, urban lifestyle, I wish I could just grow plants and vegetables and watch them grow,’ there is something very therapeutic about that,” said Philip Tan, director of the Singapore-M.I.T. Gambit Game Lab, a joint venture between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the government of Singapore to develop digital games.

Of course, real-life farming is quite a bit messier and more dangerous than FarmVille (perhaps just one reason that FarmVille players outnumber actual farmers in the United States by more than 60 to 1). Yet some of the game’s biggest fans are farmers.

“I was having all these deaths on the farm and hurting myself on a daily basis doing real farming,” said Donna Schoonover, of Schoonover Farm in Skagit County, Wash., who raises sheep, goats and Satin Angora rabbits (real ones!). “This was a way to remind myself of the mythology of farming, and why I started farming in the first place.”

Zynga, which is based in San Francisco, specializes in games that are easy to learn but hard to walk away from. It also makes Mafia Wars (25 million players) and Café World (24 million), the second and third most popular games on Facebook, respectively.

Mark Pincus, the founder and chief executive, said that Zynga earns money from advertising, sponsorships and players who buy in-game cash. Zynga has been profitable since 2007, he said.

“It’s really the same formula that makes Facebook successful,” Mr. Pincus said, “the ability to connect with your friends, to express yourself, and to invest in the game.”

FarmVille takes advantage of Facebook by allowing — nay, nagging — players to become “neighbors” with their friends, even those who have not joined the game. Players can earn points by helping with their neighbors’ work. They can also irritate friends who don’t want to play FarmVille with endless notifications and invitations to join, which has led to a vocal backlash.

Cropping up alongside fan blogs like Farmville Freak, which after just one month is getting 25,000 unique visitors a day, are Facebook groups for people who are tired of listening to their friends talk about their eggplants. On “I Hate FarmVille,” the largest of the anti-Farmville affinity groups on Facebook (it has more than 17,000 members), one person commented, “No, I will not give you a tree! No, I will not be your neighbor!”

All Done!

30 10 2009

It’s taken close to two months but finally I’ve finished pruning and sawing, and the garden is one HUGE step closer to being under control.

At least now we can see the fence, identify individual plants and the house is no longer hidden behind overgrown shrubs.

The most tedious thing is that with the changing of the seasons the huge deciduous trees (one in front, and one out back) are now dropping all their leaves in the yards all over the place.

But, there was a wind storm today, and something wonderful happened.  The wind swept across my front yard, taking nearly all the leaves with it and depositing them everywhere else but my yard.

Pay off!  My clearing has allowed me to share my garden detritous “naturally” with everyone.  A small environmental karmic payback given most of the neighbours trees are growing into our yard in the first place.

Tee hee!  No more leaves, hope there’s more wind to disperse all future deciduous offerings!

Thankyou Mother Nature! 🙂

Where Did That Come From?

29 10 2009

We’ve not so long ago arrived home from our usual Thursday night at bowling, and I have to say, that while I’ve had fun in the past, tonight was the best night ever.

As a team we had fun, and the other team was fantastic as well.  It was all laughter, jokes and pranks most of the evening.

Surprisingly I bowled well in the first game, as the last few weeks I’ve bowled badly, must have been due to having my ball rejuvenated and repolished professionally ;), end game was 165, in the second game I squashed my theory regarding the newly finished ball, and bowled a terribly dismal 109, but in the end I bowled a 193.

How the hell did that happen?  I’ll take it though.

Good fun! 🙂

Now This is Funny!

28 10 2009

In a world that is becoming more reliant on online networking and communication sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace etc, it’s good to take a break and look at just how ridiculous it can be.

Check out this video, I thought it hysterical. 


That’s Just Wrong

27 10 2009

Funny but wrong…

I was watching a television program this afternoon that was describing Vultures descending on a victim as happening as fast as a “fat kid pouncing on a burger”.

I know it’s wrong, but I couldn’ t help but chuckle.  I guess I’m going to hell! 😉


Spoke to Soon

26 10 2009

It’s been another relatively productive day, despite a slow start, I won’t bore you too much with details, but this afternoon I went for coffee with my friend Jeff at the local Starbucks.  Usually I’d make coffee at home, but sadly the transformer that takes the US 110v and turns it into a hefty 240v befitting my Australia appliances blew up on the weekend in a nice display of blue flame, smoke and ozone.  Pretty.  Pretty scary, and pretty bloody annoying!

Anyway, Starbucks.  It’s the one time that I ever actively order flavoured coffee.  Primarily because the coffee is so bad that the flavouring masks it somewhat.

I placed my order, the friendly lass behind the counter asked me “How would you like to pay?”.   I smiled and said “I wouldn’t.”
She laughed.  Next I asked if they accepted American Express.  Primarily because I’m cheap, and if you pay by card they don’t ask for a signature, which also means I don’t have to tip! 😉

She replied that they accept all cards as long as they have a magnetic strip on them.

I couldn’t resist.  I gave her my gym card.  LOL!

She was a totally good sport about it, and told me that unless it was going to take money from my gym account I’d need to use another card.  Just to stir her up further I laughed and said “but you said you too all cards as long as they had a magnetic strip.”

We both laughed, wished each other a lovely day and moved on with our lives.

Great customer service!  Admittedly I still didn’t tip, but I just completed a survey for Starbucks and gave her a great review.

The coffee still sucks, but I left with a smile, so this time I got my monies worth! 🙂


25 10 2009

It’s been almost a year now since we bought our house, and when we purchased it we did it in the knowledge that we were going to renovate it.

A year has passed, a very busy, stressful, and sometimes traumatic year, and all ideas of remodelling were put to the side, never forgotten, just shelved.

Today Mark and I, and my friends Alex and Randy went to the Home Show in Seattle.  Our goal was to gather as much information relevant to remodelling that we could find.

We now have brochures on kitchens, bathrooms, crawl spaces, garage doors, builders, designers, greenhouses, you name it, we probably picked it up.

During the search I came across one company that had a large collection of photos and sketches of their work, so I stopped to have a look.  During a brief discussion with the owners I established that they’ve recently renovated a single level home (like ours) into a dual level one, something we want to do.  On further discussion I identified that the very house they were telling me about was one that I’ve been driving past every day for quite some time.  From the outside their work is quite amazing, sadly though we were never able to identify who the company was.  That is until today.

We’ve now got their business card and brochures, and they have my contact details, we’ll be meeting for a discussion in the very near future.

Any remodel won’t be happening until the weather improves, but at least now we’re a step closer.

Day 10 – Master Cleanse Retirement

24 10 2009

Well, I’ve decided I’m finished.  The program has worked well for me as far as a cleanse, but as far as a healthy eating plan it’s not maintainable.

So I’ve retired it and will resume or commence a more healthy eating plan, which in line with getting back into a regular gym routine will be just what the Doctor (or me) ordered.

Moving along though…

We spent the afternoon out in the garden today.  All the dead blackberries kindly left for us by the previous owners are gone.  Despite them being a tangled mess and nearly as tall as me, they’re all gone, and the gardens have been raked of all the old decomposing leaves from last season (again, left by the previous owners, they were supposed to removed so as not to kill the lawns so they blew them onto the gardens! grr!) and the old tan bark is gone too.  Now all I have to do is remove the last of the branches from the backyard and the leaves (also left from the previous owners!!!) and then I can send the huge bin back and be free of it.

Speaking of the huge bin.  We’ve had a lot of rain lately, and it has no drain holes, so it’s filled with water.  Annoyingly, because it also has several loads of grass clippings and other garden matter in there, its started to smell.  Yuck!  To combat it, I pulled out my drill and put a nice big hole in the front to let it drain, which it’s been doing for several hours now.

If you’ve ever been to a cemetary and smelt the water in the flower receptacles when you change it to put fresh water and flowers in (and trust me, if you’ve smelt it, you’ll know what I’m talking about), that’s what the water that started gushing from the bin smelt like.  Sadly that same smell sat over the entire front yard like an invisible cloud, and probably still smells now as it’s probably still draining.  The neighbours are going to love me!

I’ll have to hose the ground down tomorrow to clean it all up.  The work here is neverending.

G’night and happy weekend!

Day 9 – Master Cleanse and Nothing to Scratch at!

23 10 2009

Finally no itching today, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m pretty much into the final stretch now, and while it’s been great, and I may even do it again in the future, it’s not the most practical of programs, at least not for me.

I’m certainly going to look forward to returning to a more solid diet, and more importantly returning to more frequent gym visits, they’re just too hard to maintain on such a low calorie diet.

As for today, it’s been a quiet one.  The weather is grey, it’s rained most of the day so I’ve been unable to work in the garden.  So it’s been an indoors chore day, and the evening is going to consist of doing all the ironing.  How excitement! 😐

At least it’s Friday and the weekend is here! 🙂

Day 8 – Master Cleanse and Still Itchy

22 10 2009

That was, I was itchy until I took an antihistamine tablet this morning.  That may in effect derail the whole idea of a detox anyway, but when faced with the possibility that I’m going to scratch myself into the ground, it’s an avenue that seems acceptable.

Otherwise things are going well.  I’ve altered the program a little to better suit my needs, and that is to eat every couple of days and abstain from the lemonade mix.  It’s not kosher according to the plan, but it works for me.  Otherwise I spend the whole day feeling hungry, with low energy, and that’s unacceptable.

So I’ve taken a few liberties.

In other news, tonight was bowling night, and usually by this stage of the evening we’re still bowling, at least until 9.30pm, and yet, it’s 9.08pm as I type this, and I’m already home, showered, in my pj’s and blogging.  You just have to love an early finish.  The icing on top was that we also won.  That was probably due to the other team only having 2 players to our 3.  😉

Time for the couch now though.  An early night home from bowling demands a comfortable evening in front of the television.