Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Chicken Game: The Flickr Group

OK! I’ve officially set up the Flickr Group. It’s called “The Chicken Game.” Now, I don’t entirely understand how Flickr Groups work, so I don’t know if you can just search for that group and join it, or if I have to invite you, but this is the URL for it. I think.

I think I set it up so that anyone can join, but let me know if you have any issues.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Chicken Game: "The rules"

Well! Somehow, I just knew that Swistle’s audience would be the right audience to get this INTERNET PHENOMENON rolling. I am beyond thrilled at the sheer number of excited participants who left comments. I am hoping that there is a subgroup of lurkers who are planning to play, but did not comment, based on my stats for the day:

TCG, pickles

(Each of those peaks represents a day that Swistle linked to me, with the debut of TCG at the end.)

But a few people had some questions, left in both the comments on my blog and on Swistle’s, and I want to address them here rather than within the comment section because I never trust that people are going back to read updates in the comments. I usually don’t.

Question 1: Ack! I want to play, but I don’t understand the rules! Do I have to buy an infinite number of chickens and hide them on everyone I know, never to see them again? I mean, they’re cheap, but an infinite number of anything begins to add up.

Answer: Relax. You do not have to buy chickens for the rest of your life. All players in TCG hide the chickens on each other; whoever finds the chicken picks the next place to hide it. So you can play with everyone in your household or workplace or wherever using a single chicken that simply makes the rounds. Of course you are welcome to leave the chickens at other people’s homes, mail them out, or include them in gifts as well, but you have to be prepared not to see those particular chickens again. Those chickens will go to join a new household, this insuring the spread of the INTERNET PHENOMENON.

Question 2: How do people who didn’t read this post know what to do with the chicken when they find it?

Answer: The original chicken game evolved organically, but I think you’ll probably have to tell them. You can leave a note with the chicken the first time, or you could hide the chicken and then oh-so-casually tell them about the INTERNET PHENOMENON sweeping the nation before they have a chance to find it. Either way. But if you don’t tell them, you might end up in a situation like Stimey’s where the chicken just stays put. Forever.

Question 3: How long does the chicken game last?

Answer: My extensive chicken game research suggests that with a fresh group of TCG participants, there is a flurry of excited and frequent chicken-hiding which peters out after a few weeks as people start to run out of novel hiding places. But you can play it forever; you will probably just wait longer and longer to re-hide the chicken. For example, I had not hidden the chicken on Andrew for months, but I squirreled a few of them away in his luggage last month when he went on a business trip. One in his shaving kit, one in his suit coat pocket, and one amidst his underwear.

Question 4: Will you mail me a chicken?

Answer: Absolutely! INTERNET PHENOMENONS don’t just happen, people. Email me your snail mail address at docmaureen at yahoo dot com. Or you can leave it in the comments if you like, but you probably don’t like.

Question 5: I am Shelly Overlook, and I won your PIF. Will there be a chicken in it?

Answer: Shelly, part of the reason the PIF package has not yet been sent is because I had to wait until I wrote about TCG so that you would know what to do with the chicken(s). (The other part of the reason is because I am not what you might call “prompt”.)

In other news, I am 24 weeks as of today. Ack indeed.



(Note: I took these today, after receiving my ashes for Ash Wednesday. So that's what is going on on my forehead up there.)

I have entered what I believe to be the “cute belly” stage where you can finally tell I’m pregnant even when I’m wearing maternity tops (that shirt is not one), but I’m not yet at the stage where people are surreptitiously following me around the store to make sure I don’t pop out a baby right there.

Speaking of people assuming women are ready to pop, can I tell you of my theory? I have come to the conclusion that the general population thinks that women who are seven to eight months pregnant are “ready to pop” because everyone forgets what a nine-month pregnant woman actually looks like. They forget for two reasons: First, women who are 40-weeks pregnant don’t really get out much, so the general population does not see very many women who are actually “ready to pop.” The 40-week pregnant women are all at home, nursing their sore backs. They are certainly not driving; they can’t, because they can’t turn around to look behind them when they want to reverse. Second, it should not be possible for a person to look like this:


Since it only lasts a week or two, you tend to block it out.

Monday, February 23, 2009

My true life's work

I have written about The Chicken Game before, back on the old blog. I have to admit, that after I hit “post” on that entry, I entertained a secret desire that I would get hundreds of comments from people begging me to mail them a Mr. Pickles immediately. Inexplicably, this did not happen.

But for those of you who either did not read about TCG back in the day or read about it but have forgotten it (I realize this is essentially everyone), I will summarize it for you here.

This is Mr. Pickles.


He is a small yellow chicken. He was known simply as “the chicken” until The Doktah, a class and lab-mate of mine from grad school, christened him. And just so you know, the little one is called “Mr. Pickles brother, Mr. Pickles.”


So to play TCG, what you do is, you take Mr. Pickles and you hide him somewhere. The hiding place should be such that Mr. Pickles is not immediately visible to the chicken recipient, but should be a place the chicken recipient comes across often. In college, popular hiding places among me and my housemates were boxes of cereal


the sugar bowl

Sugar bowl 2

the fridge


and the medicine chest.

Medicine chest

When I played TCG with The Doktah, we hid Mr. Pickles in other sorts of places like bags of centrifuge tubes, centrifuge tube racks, and the actual centrifuge. The best lab hiding place of all time was The Doktah’s; she put Mr. Pickles into a centrifuge tube and then properly labeled it as “Mr. Pickles, Feb 5, 2002.” (Centrifuges and centrifuge tubes play an enormous role in the modern biological laboratory in case you didn’t guess.)

I have been known to secrete a Mr. Pickles in people’s coat pockets, purses, and shoes. I often tuck a Mr. Pickles inside the wedding gifts of my fellow Chicken Game players. I leave them behind at people’s homes when I visit. I have also used my friends’ cameras to take surreptitious photos of Mr. Pickles, and I convinced my friend L’s wedding photographer to take a picture of Mr. Pickles at the DJ station. That photo made L’s day when she saw the proofs, weeks later.

Once you start playing The Chicken Game, you will find it difficult to keep quiet while you wait for the chicken recipient to find the chicken, but – and I can’t stress this enough – it is absolutely critical that you do so. You may not, under any circumstances, ask leading questions like, “So, have you had cereal lately? Maybe you should have some now!” The element of surprise is the secret to a successful Chicken Game.

I know what you are all thinking. You are all thinking, “What do you mean, ‘Once you start playing The Chicken Game’? Why would I want to start playing The Chicken Game? It sounds phenomenally stupid.” But here’s the thing: The Chicken Game is awesome. Really! You have no idea how much fun it is to unexpectedly find this little guy


in your cereal bowl. So don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

Why am I bringing this all up now? Well, months ago, Swistle blogged about a book called Bitter With Baggage Seeks Same, and I got all excited. See, my former housemates gave that book to me because when they obviously had to buy it for me when they saw it in the bookstore. And as a sponsor of pay-it-forward contests, Swistle already has a history of getting strangers from the internet to mail things to each other, and Swistle has a vastly larger readership than I do. Thus, I thought to myself, “What if I got Swistle to blog about The Chicken Game, and her readers started to play it, and it became an INTERNET PHENOMENON?” I emailed Swistle immediately. I was a bit overexcited about the whole INTERNET PHENOMENON possibility, and the email therefore included a few more exclamation points than was perhaps wise, so I had to follow up with an email explaining that I am not, in fact, a crazy person. Fortunately, Swistle has been known to get overexcited herself and did not hold my many exclamation points or all caps – did I mention the plethora of all caps? – against me.

So Swistle thought it was a great idea, and together we concocted a plan. I would mail her some chickens. She would play The Chicken Game at home, document it with photos, and then, at a predetermined date, she would write about it and also link to my post about The Chicken Game. And then people all over the world would start playing The Chicken Game in their own homes and it will become an INTERNET PHENOMENON.

Swistle and I discussed how best to exploit the INTERNET PHENOMENON-ability of The Chicken Game, and have decided that the photos of Mr. Pickles are the key. So I will start a Flickr Group for TCG photos once I figure out how that works. But bloggers could also choose to include a photo of Mr. Pickles in their blog posts, or just include Mr. Pickles in a photo of something else, without comment, much like the snail’s daily appearances in Blue’s Clues. (Item: I did not know about the Blue’s Clues snail until Swistle suggested this Chicken Game tactic.)

I should probably mention that the chickens are readily available by the dozen at craft stores in the weeks leading up to Easter. I get mine at Michael’s. And, while the chickens do come in other colors, any color but yellow is unnatural and wrong.

I’d also like to mention here that when Swistle and I were first emailing about this, she asked if we should wait until closer to Easter to post about it so that people would be able to acquire their own Mr. Pickleses, and I said we could not possibly wait that long. And yet, here we are. Lent starts on Wednesday. Procrastinators, unite! We’ll work out the organizational details later.

If all goes well, at some point in the future someone will email me to tell me about the awesome new game they learned about on the internet. And then my life’s work will be complete.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Yes, he has been rethinking that statement

Andrew and I are practicing hypnobirthing techniques on our own this time around. (We practice on Friday nights because that is the sort of action-packed life we lead.) Since we took a class last time, "practicing" consists of Andrew reading me scripts while I get very comfortable and focus on relaxing. And even though this is not exactly a hardship on either of us, we both regard it as a bit of a chore when all we really want to do is veg out in front of the TV.

Which is why, last Friday, Andrew moaned and groaned and said to me, "At least you have the EASY part."

He kind of wishes he hadn't said that.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

We interrupt this blog to complain

I know I owe you a post about The Chicken Game, and it is in the works. But there is something wrong with the power cable for my laptop (and the battery died LONG ago), and I seem to have caught Jack's nasty cold and I am BITTER about it. I barely had time to recover from the sinus infection, and now here I am again, completely stuffed up and pregnant and therefore unable to take cold meds. Also, it snowed yesterday.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

I hope this doesn't leave a mark because it will be difficult to explain

I just made some bread, and the dough was very sticky and I had a lot of trouble transferring it to the oven. As I was bending over the 450-degree oven for two or so minutes coaxing the dough onto the cookie sheet, I became aware of an intermittent burning sensation at my throat. When I finally stood up, I realized it was from the searing hot metal of my necklace as it swung back and forth against my neck.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Thank you, Dr. Fleming

So I’ve been sick. I came down with a “head cold” last Monday, but looking back, I think it may have actually started on Saturday given the amount of sleep I started to require. It was bad for a day or two, then I started to feel better. And then I stopped feeling better. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t start to feel worse, I just stopped feeling better. I stalled out at “cannot breathe through the nose; waking up in the night because mouth and throat are so dry.”

It always takes me a long time to realize I need to go to the doctor, however, so it was not until I was talking to my mom on Saturday that I realized I had been feeling fairly awful with no improvement for about a week. “Huh, I guess I’ll call the doctor on Monday if I’m not feeling better,” I said to her.

“Oh, yes, you really should,” she said. And for the rest of our conversation, which lasted about twenty more minutes, she told me to make sure I called the doctor on Monday approximately 427 times. “I will!” I kept saying. “I won’t if I feel fine, but if I’m not better, I will call the doctor. I promise!”

Now let me tell you something about my mother. My mother is a retired nurse in addition to being a mother, a situation known in medical circles as “the dreaded mom/nurse bifecta.*” This means that my mother is excellent at taking care of other people, but will not see a doctor on her own behalf under any circumstances. She once spent three weeks in bed insisting, “They’ll just tell me to get some rest!” and only agreed to see a doctor after her boss – an OB/GYN – called her and said, “I made an appointment for you for Friday.” When she fell down the cellar stairs and cracked a rib, her first thought was not, “Ow! Ow ow ow ow ow ow! Ow!” No, it was “Maybe I can get this load of laundry in while I’m still in shock, before the pain hits me.”

So, you know, pot/kettle and all that.

Anyway. Inklings on Saturday were solidified on Sunday that I did not, in fact, have a head cold, what I had was a sinus infection. So on Sunday, Andrew took Jack to visit his parents and I stayed home by myself (and it was awesome) to rest. I had to call my parents first to tell them that I would not be able to stop by that day as originally planned, and I talked to my dad. “Oh, OK,” he said. “Well, I hope you feel better.” Then, just before we hung up, he said, “Oh, and your mother says to tell you to call the doctor tomorrow.”

I said to tell her I would, after I got the laundry in.

I did, in face, see the doctor on Monday, and he checked my ears, nose, throat, lungs… the usual suspects. He listened as I described my symptoms and asked if there were any more. “Well, I’m tired, but it’s hard to say if that’s because I’m sick,” I said, indicating Jack and my pregnant belly.

“Yeah, you look tired,” he said. Which, thanks, Doctor. I mean, I didn’t feel like putting on any makeup that morning, but sheesh.

Although the final diagnosis was not “sinus infection” so much as a generalized “infection of some kind, and why aren’t you coughing more – I can hear a lot of crackling in your lungs,” I didn’t really care where the infection was as long as I got my hands on some antibiotics. Sweet, sweet antibiotics. I ended up with a prescription for azithromycin, little pink pills that Jack kept calling “gum”, thus driving home the message that you really need to keep your medications far out of your children’s reach.

Today was the last dose, and I am feeling much better. I’ve still been falling asleep every night around 8:30, but see above, re: pregnant, toddler.

Coming soon: The Chicken Game.


*No it’s not; I just made that up. I also made up the word “bifecta.”

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Four thousand is a lot of square feet to keep clean

Thanks to a pricing situation and a fight with Comcast, we have a weird cable package where we don’t actually get HGTV. Neither do we get TLC, Nickelodeon, or the Discovery Channel. Instead, we get the poor man’s version of these channels: DIY network, Style, Nick 2, and the Science Channel. They either play boring versions of the good shows (for example How Do I Look? instead of What Not to Wear), or else they play the shows at really inconvenient times (Blue’s Clues at 9:00 pm). For some unknown reason, however, we get a handful of these channels’ good shows On Demand for free, so I still get to watch episodes of HGTV’s House Hunters every now and then.

First of all, I would like to make note of the fact that it is bizarre that I find it entertaining to watch total strangers shop for a new house. It is bizarre that anyone finds this entertaining. And yet, this show that I like is popular. I think it’s the same phenomenon that is responsible for making new homeowners suddenly start to notice flooring, door hardware and crown molding in their friends’ houses. Six years ago, I would never have thought to comment on how beautiful someone’s floor was. It’s a floor. Who notices a floor? As it turns out, homeowners do. Ten minutes after moving into my first house – one with really messed up floors, I might add – other people’s floors were suddenly fascinating. I like details on what they are made of, when they were installed, and how much they cost. And don’t even get me started on door hardware! I could discuss door hardware for hours.

So that’s part of what makes House Hunters interesting; I like to see what house features are important to other people. And then I like to criticize those people.

The other night, for example, I saw an episode where a young couple expecting a baby in less than three months was trying to find a new house because they had outgrown their rental home. Their rental home with three bedrooms. THREE BEDROOMS. A family of two people who sleep in the same bedroom had “outgrown” their three-bedroom house.

Their main problem, it seemed, was that they owned far too many clothes. The enormous walk-in closet in their rented master bedroom was “too small” because it was full of the woman’s shoes and clothes. My word, did she have a lot of shoes. And apparently, the husband was a bit of a clothes horse himself. There were also complaints about their tiny kitchen and how they had to store some of their dishes in the dishwasher because there was not enough room in their fifteen cabinets for all their stuff.

I will grant that their kitchen was a bit cramped and short on counter space. I will also grant that I, too, like shoes, and I don’t have anything against owning lots of shoes on principle. I honestly do not begrudge these people their monetary success. What I did have a problem with was their attitude. If they had simply said they wanted more space and not that they needed more space, I would have been more forgiving, but they truly thought their family of three could not possibly survive with less than four thousand square feet of living space. As someone expecting a second child in a two bedroom apartment, I have to say that I did not have a lot of sympathy for their plight.

They ended up with I think a five-bedroom/four-and-a-half bath mansion. I can’t remember if the house they picked was the one with two enormous walk-in closets or only one, but it definitely had a wood-paneled library. So I think they’ll be all right.