Note From Jon

Adieu.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Facebook Free-Fall

I blame Chris. I didn't know why exactly, but I knew I didn't want anything to do with MySpace or Facebook. I was fairly proud that not only did I not have an account with either of them, I had never actually been to anyone's page on either site (the fact that MySpace is blocked at work probably made that easier). Then I traveled around West Africa this summer and I took my first step down the slippery slope which seems to have tossed me right off a cliff (I just finished watching the 2006 season of Everest on the Discovery Channel so that's the imagery I have in my head right now). I noticed that whenever we stopped at an internet cafe and I checked my email or uploaded photos, Chris seemed to be updating something on Facebook. When I got home I wanted to know how my malaria-stricken friend was faring as he made a solo trek through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cote D'Ivore (did I mention he's hard core). Having seen him in operation I knew the best place to find out wasn't his blog... but on his Facebook profile!

The trouble (or blessing, if you worry about stalkers) with Facebook is that in order to view someone's profile you have to have a profile of your own (and get them to accept you as a friend). Despite my reservations I relented and created a blank profile so I could keep up with him. Oh I took precautions. I was very clear in my status message and in a note that I wasn't actually planning to use Facebook and asked everyone to please not "friend" me. And yet I suddenly got a flood of friend requests. It turns out the other trouble with Facebook is that no one can see your status or your notes without being your friend in the first place. Damn catch-22. I ignored the requests for a while (several weeks actually) but as they piled up I figured there was no harm in simply accepting them since then my friends would see my status and my note and realize I had no intention of being sucked into the Facebook world. Wrong again. Soon I was getting emails about people writing on my wall, asking me to compare movie tastes, and even challenging me to a game of something called Scrabulous. Again I resisted. For weeks.

And then one day I was having lunch with the Scrabulous challenger who berated me for not accepting her request to play. Apparently when you challenge someone you actually start the game and she'd started with a high scoring word and was excited to see if I could catch up. The next day I accepted the challenge. And ever since I've been in Facebook free-fall over that 10,000 foot cliff without the sherpa's safety line.

See Scrabulous is fantastic. It's like Scrabble... but so much better. I've always had a thing for words... and games... and yet ironically while I enjoy an occasional game of Scrabble I haven't played it considerably more than any other board game growing up (perhaps I am still bummed about being denied the word "revoided" in a travel Scrabble game on my trip to the UK in 2000 - here let me use it in a sentence for you: "The cashier scanned my Corn Flakes twice, so she voided one of the transactions... but it failed to clear the charges so she called over her manager... who revoided it". See perfectly valid! But I digress...). So why is Scrabulous better than Scrabble? Well for one thing you essentially have an unlimited amount of time to plot your perfect move. But what really does it for me is the built in dictionary lookup that is available in "regular" games. I can check all sorts of weird combinations of my letters and magically stumble across the perfect word which I never even knew existed! There is just something exciting about typing in an endless combination of letters that you really need (ok so "need" is relative) to form a valid word and suddenly having the valid word appear in glorious green print. Instead of only playing safe words that you know everyone will agree on (like revoided :-p) I can discover that "aa" is a word (a type of lava flow - which I somehow knew from Geology classes), as is "oe", and that "qaid" is a useful "q" word that doesn't contain a "u". Other words I have discovered from Scrabulous (I'll update this list over time... unless I manage to shake this addiction)
  • Grister - Someone who grinds things, I believe. This was also my first ever "Bingo" (80 points for that word) where I used all 7 of my tiles (revoided would have been my first which is why I fought so hard for it).
  • Torii - A word I didn't use in the game but found while trying different letter combos. This was probably my favorite because a couple days later I was looking through Emily's blog about her trip to Asia and she had a picture of a Torii (the Shinto gate shown in her picture)

  • Vogie - An obscure Scottish word used in the 18th and 19th century which means... happy! You can never have too many words for happy, so I am bringing vogie back (and I'm not the only one)

  • Ut - A Middle English precursor to "do" (as in do re mi - the song certainly makes more sense now that they changed it to do). But more importantly it allowed me to play my second bingo "entreat" on the only spot on the board where it could fit.

  • Askoi - The plural of Askos, a modern term for a form of ancient greek pottery used to pour liquids.

  • Oxyphenbutazone - Some molecule that is far more famous as the highest scoring single play word in American Scrabble. No I did not type that in randomly. I saw it on the Scrabulous high score board and did some investigating.

  • Inchers - My highest scoring bingo thus far (for 113 points), doesn't really seem like a word at all until you put a number in front of it, e.g. 9-inchers.

  • Dildoes - Ahem. Scrabble word lists aren't censored, so if you've got the letters... Anyway, aside from the good laugh we got out of this bingo—which incidentally played off of the word "Fakes"—we learned that this word can be spelled as either dildos or dildoes (though blogger thinks they are both misspelled, I guess they do censor). Who knew?

I might have been safe if Scrabulous was the end of it, after all I can only play as fast as my opponent is willing to so I should be able to squeeze some sort of a life in between... but today... today Alexandra doomed, er challenged me to the Traveler's IQ Quiz. This was even more fun than Scrabulous, and I could play as much as I want (yes there is a Scrabulous mode where you play against the computer but I'm not stupid enough to try that... I hope). This is a geography quiz where you have a map of the world and they throw out cities (or historic landmarks/battles etc.) and you click as close as you can to their location on the map in under 10 seconds. They plant a flag where you click and then toss in another flag at the actual location and award you points based on how many kilometers you were off (I'm proud to say my closest guess so far was 20KM off... on the location of Fenway Park!). The questions get harder for each of the 12 rounds and you have to score enough each round to advance. All three tries today I missed out on getting the 55,000 in round 11 to make it to the 12th and final round (my second try I missed 55,000 by 197 points!). And now I am off to try one more time before bed to reach round 12...

Somebody please set up an intervention...

9 comments:

Rocky said...

OK, not related to this, but I had to post it...

saw your list of friends' blogs (thanks for the link!) and at first glance read it as "Biggs' Bikini Blog".

Jon said...

No. He's asked me not to post the link to that one...

Alexandra said...

Your Facebook IQ is off the charts!

rocky said...

It turns out, I've got a picture from Darren's Bikini Blog:

http://flickr.com/photos/asmythie/2076931834/

rocky said...

here it is as a link. why doesn't blogger just link them already?

Darren's Bikini Blog

Candice said...

OK, bucko! I see what's going on here. I got sucked into a Sacrabulous game with an ADDICT who uses all the cheats that the online version allows. I've been playing the old fashioned way... just thinking up words and not looking them up until I find a real zinger like you apparently have been doing. ...at least I WAS playing that way. Now that I've discovered that 2-letter word guide and will look into this "green" word business: IT'S ON! *puts game face on* Bring it, bitch....

Jon said...

Holy Sh!t. That may be the best picture ever. Congratulations Rocky, I will officially be adding the link to "Biggs Bikini Blog" to my friends blog list!

Emily said...

What a beautiful Torii photo! ;-)
The Traveler IQ game is hard. I'm always way off on Polynesia/Micronesia. And the same questions start to come up after a while but my score never improves.

ChristoG said...

Yes, one hardcore West African travelling, facebook-checking friend chiming in. It should be noted that I was merely responding to numerous "join facebook", then "be my friend" messages that were cluttering my email inbox.

As for the travel IQ game, that enjoyed a flurry of activity in the PC-The Gambia comp lab for a few days. I think my scores were passable.