Sep 2

Dear Readers,

I’ve always had a scrabble problem. Or rather, a spelling problem. That is, a problem spelling too well, and compulsively correcting the spelling of those around me who might otherwise be my friends. My love of correctly-spelled words is the likely force behind my love of scrabble. It used to be a board game (and I hear it still is, in the nineteen hundreds), to be played face-to-face with an opponent you could see, and by extension laugh at when said opponent placed an incorrect combination of letters on the board, commonly known as the misspelled word. When your fit of laughter ended, you were then to challenge your partner, and watch him or her suffer through looking up the word in Webster’s dictionary and reach the eventual conclusion to which you’d already come; that the word was misspelled. Your partner then had to undergo the humiliating act of removing his word from the board and losing a turn, a satisfying end before you placed your next zinger.

And while the advent of spellcheck threatened to render my special skills obsolete in the academic and professional world, it was in the scrabble world that the inaccessability of spellcheck maintained the significance of my spelling superiority.

When at first scrabble programs became available on facebook and in iphone apps (first in the ill-fated scrabulous and then in the current scrabble-like giant words with friends), I rejoiced in my 24/7 access to scrabble (and my concomitant decrease in real-world social interactions, surely a coincidence). However, I soon came to find that the ability to spell, not to mention vocabulary and even the strategic skill of singlehandedly arranging one’s letters to create a word, had been usurped by a fatal flaw in programming. No longer did a person need to know how to spell, or even distinguish between a word and a nonword; a person need only randomly arrange letters in any number of combinations and place them on the electronic board that would declare their word “not a word” until their fortuitous three hundredth attempt when, by sheer luck, they placed the word “burgoo” and the computer accepted it, passing their turn on to their virtual opponent. Their opponent, of course, would not have been witness to their 299 failed attempts, unable to challenge their unwords like “rfgyi” and “gyifr.”

“What do these words even mean?” I asked a friend in the midst of her iPhone scrabble game the other day as I observed words like “chthonic” and “jorum.”

“I have no idea,” she replied, “but the computer accepted them, so that’s all that matters.”

IS that all that matters? Is anybody else interested in returning to the original scrabble game that adheres to the legitimate scrabble rules? Wherein the computer doesn’t notify you that “plirdiger” is a nonword (which I only know after having tried to play it in my current iPhone scrabble game) and allow you infinite retries, but rather displays your word to your opponent, who either accepts your word, or challenges you? Were this the case, upon a challenge the computer would then declare whether or not your placement is in fact a word, and if it were not, you would lose your turn, and your partner would play. Intelligence, not dumb luck, would prevail.

And that is why I’m taking a stand. Readers, I implore you to join me in my movement to Take Scrabble Back. It will be bigger than Scientology, though perhaps not as lucrative.

–Troi out

Jun 12

*Disclaimer for regular readers: This blog post departs from its usual farcical tone and is somewhat serious. Readers suffering from serious-induced shock are asked to immediately link to other posts for comic relief.

Dear Readers,

Yesterday, I got an awesome t-shirt. It says, “Luke’s Local Artist.” I felt like a fraud putting it on, because anybody within a mile of me can spot that I’m not an artist. The students I work with would have no problem sharing the depth of my visual-spatial impairments watching me attempt a basic stick figure sketch during a lesson. “Here Ms. Troi,” says my student with fine motor impairments who can’t yet use scissors to cut paper as he takes the pencil from me and draws an admittedly superior stick figure to my own, “This is how you draw a person.” So you might be wondering why I would don apparel emblazoned with the word “Artist.”

I donned this shirt last night because I was volunteering for an event called Luke’s Local Artists. This event, inspired by a ten-year old boy named Luke who lost his battle with cancer and actualized by his chemo pal* Ryan Foote, one of the creators of 2600 Strange Ave** (and creator of my awesome t-shirt), brought artists from the Portland area to the Disjecta event space and invited Portlanders to share in an evening of food, drinks, art and music to benefit three organizations who help support children with cancer: Children’s Cancer Association, Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP), and Providence Cancer Research Center. 100% of the entrance fee ($20/person at the door, $15/person in advance) and the sale from drinks went toward these organizations.

When I offered to volunteer at the event, I didn’t know who Luke was, and when I left the event, I felt sad I’d never get the chance. From stories shared by those who knew him and a letter written in his own words, it was clear that In his three-year battle with cancer, Luke was a steadfast beacon of hope. The kind of hope that can be depleted for much less than the battle he fought. The kind of hope we forget to tap into when we’re tapped out by fear and loss.

People have sometimes asked me why I enjoy volunteering for organizations that matter to me, like the Children’s Cancer Association or American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). And I’ll often respond with the flippancy characteristic of the blog posts you’ve come to know (and love?), like the fun or the free t-shirts (my neon green oversized AFSP t-shirt is perfect for first dates, because nothing says “I’m fun!” like neon green and the topic of suicide). But if I were to give an honest answer, it would be, “Because I’m alive, so I can.” I wake up every single morning with the gift of life, which is really the gift of opportunity: opportunity to do more and become better. Luke’s story reminded me that the gift of life is fleeting, and if I embrace this life and catch its curve balls (That’s a metaphor. I’m as bad at catching baseballs as I am at sketching the aforementioned stick figures.) with half the courage and hope that Luke did, I will consider my time here a job well done.

–Troi out

*A chemo pal is an adult matched with a child undergoing chemotherapy, one of the many awesome programs through the Children’s Cancer Association. To learn more about volunteering with this organization, please go here.

**A percentage of t-shirt sales go toward select charities. Please see their website for details.

May 15

This is an actual photograph of the tree that fell on Troi

Dear Loyal Readers,

I am writing now to quiet fears of my disappearance. There have been whispers of my bloglessness around these parts, causing a generalized unrest amongst Portlanders. Nobody seems to know what’s going on in this city, because I haven’t blogged about it. In fact, one might argue, if I haven’t blogged about it, did it actually happen? And much like the popular philosophical riddle, “If a tree falls on Troi in the woods, and nobody sees her get pinned under it, did the tree actually fall, and what was Troi doing in the woods in this rainy weather?” the answer, of course, is that it doesn’t really matter, as long as Troi was wearing rain boots and can wriggle out from under tight spaces.

During my absence, I have received many an empassioned inquiry regarding my whereabouts. Here are just a few comments made by my dearest fans:

“The internet has been so peaceful without your constant, unsolicited perspective.”

–Anonymous Reader obviously not thinking clearly due to severe Trekkychick withdrawal symptoms

“Are you dating somebody? Come on, don’t try to hide it. The only time you stop blogging is when you’re dating somebody.”

–Church Brian

“Honey, where have you been? Will you call me?”

–My Mother

Nothing less than absolute candor is required in responding to your questions, and therefore allow me without further delay to tell you that I was under a tree in the woods for the past several months and, owing to the fact that I had no bars in the forest (not even the Laurelwood), I lacked the reception to notify you, my loyal readers, of my whereabouts.*

*For those coworkers who sense deceit in this explanation —- having seen me at work every day —- I ask that you be discreet in your observations of prevarication as I have a reputation of honesty to maintain amongst my community of readers.

I assure you that in the future I will not allow my personal life to eclipse my duties as a blogger and will be providing you with material of the high caliber you’ve come to expect from …. other bloggers. 🙂

–Troi out

Mar 1

Assotroiated Press

Have you recently found yourself sitting instead of standing? Walking instead of running? Yawning instead of brawning? If so, you may be suffering from a recently identified ailment known as “gym block,” which is characterized by a total inability to get one’s butt to the gym. According to a recent report by CNNNN, the incidence of gym block has risen significantly in recent months and is spreading like mayonnaise on a turkey sandwich. While researchers are scrambling like eggs to develop a vaccine to protect against this dangerous disease, Dr. Troi McTroiferson of Troi Emmanuel Hospital in Detroit warns the general public to watch vigilantly for the signs of gym block and rush like gold to the nearest medical facility if you begin to develop any of the following symptoms:

  • Thinking about going to the gym while eating Hostess cupcakes
  • Keeping your gym membership as a ruse to trick yourself into thinking you’re actually going to go to the gym
  • Walking past your gym to the store to buy another package of Hostess cupcakes
  • Conjuring elaborate excuses to avoid the gym, such as losing your gym clothes, misplacing your water bottle, smashing the lock to your gym locker and eating your gym bag

Dr. McTroiferson implores readers to stay out of harm’s way by going to the gym.

“People who have come down with a bad case of gym block will be anywhere BUT at the gym, so it’s basically the safest place to be,” she explains from her hideout at 24-Hour Fitness, where she’s been living since the outbreak was first reported by CNNNN.

In the meantime, the CFDC (Centers for Fake Disease Control) advises people to take general precautions, such as washing their hands before and after reading a magazine. Eating foods high in vitamin C, such as Hostess Cupcakes, can ward off gym block bacteria. And taking a child’s chewable multivitamin (any child will do) can’t hurt, and tastes great!

To receive updates on gym block, please go to, which CNNNN reports is “your source—-and not mine—-for unreliable news.”

Feb 13

Dear Readers,

As an adoptive parent to a betta*, I find that being a good parent is in the little things, like maintaining the water level in my pet fish’s bowl to ensure he has enough oxygen to breathe. So when my dad came over the other night to fix my car brakes (thanks dad) and partake of the lovely meal I’d prepared for him (thanks Pizza Hut) and said “It appears you have not maintained the water level in your pet fish’s bowl, therefore, your fish hasn’t enough oxygen to breathe,” I reluctantly set down my slice of stuffed crust pizza (you know, the one I’d made from scratch) and brought Lieutenant Commander Betta’s bowl over to my kitchen sink for a quick cleaning and water refill.

*For those illiterate Readers (is that an oxy moron?) confusing betta with its homophonic relative beta, let me assure you that I in fact have a pet fish and not a pet isomeric compound. Isomeric compounds are so expensive to keep as pets these days.

Well as I poured the excess dirty water from LCB’s bowl prior to dumping him in the container of dechlorinated water that serves as his temporary residence as I clean and disinfect his bowl, LCB apparently misread the situation as an opportunity for freedom rather than certain death, and made a mad dash in the direction of the edge of the bowl. And before I could say, “No, Lieutenant Commander Betta, don’t go down there because that’s the garbage disposal,” LCB swam right out of the bowl and plummeted down the garbage disposal.

My father, champion of all living creatures great and small, heard my hysterically unhelpful cries of “No, Lieutenant Commander Betta, come back! The garbage disposal is a terribly unwise place to reside if you want to live!” and, tossing his pizza aside, hurried over to heroically fling his arm down the garbage disposal, grasping around desperately for his fallen comrade. Several times throughout the next 90 seconds he was certain he had found my fish only to bring up the remains of a meal I’d not quite finished the week before (“Troi, you realize the purpose of a garbage disposal is to use it to dispose of this food?” “Thanks, dad, I believe you’ve identified the source of the mysterious odor pervading my kitchen and dining area!”).

As my dad’s garbage disposal scavenger hunt lingered on, I had already moved through the five stages of grief and was pondering the greater post-mortem issues in life, such as where I should buy my next betta fish and what I should name him or her. Yet my dad, never one to give up on a lost fish, continued his heroic attempts and finally produced from the disposal my dear undeparted Lieutenant Commander Betta!

I was not optimistic at the likelihood Lieutenant Commander Betta would survive after his traumatic abduction by the garbage disposal, but remarkably he bounced back well from his extended stay in the disposal and, five days later, he is gliding gaily around his bowl as if nothing ever happened.

And my father the hero has recommended that from now on I use the other side of the kitchen sink and implement use of the handy stopper (that’s what that disc-shaped doodad sitting on my counter is for!) to plug the drain to prevent future mishaps.

Thanks, dad!

–Troi out

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