Monday, December 19, 2011

Well Played, SAF

Recently, you all read my facetious rantings about the stamp-collecting game I play on my iPhone, called Stamp Art Fever (SAF).

The day after (of not the SAME day) I posted to my blog, the SAF team announced their version 12 update and gave a preview on the SAF blog. The 2 images they chose to share with us were less than encouraging.

To wit:

This first stamp, ZombieExpo, is ugly. Let's face it. And that it was part of a Book 2 set called "Post Apocalyptic" did not leave me in any great anticipation, believe me. I had assumed that the entire set would be about a zombie apocalypse. Swell.

Now, I didn't necessarily have a problem with the image on the second stamp, which is part of an Extra-Rare set called "Portraits." But the title of the stamp itself, (as it was presented out of context) "Haunted," gave the indication that would be part of yet another set of stamps dedicated to a subject matter in which I have next to ZERO interest: ghosts.

I was about to give up entirely on this game ever producing anything other than cheesy horror, manga, or lame fantasy sets of stamps.

Well to my utter surprise, the Post-Apocalyptic set is actually, well, not that bad. In fact, I kinda like them. Aside from the stupid zombie fist (it is giving us the Green Power salute?) the set is more like classic anti-war or other propaganda posters from the 1930s-1960s. Here's an example of what I mean:

This is a rare stamp called "Vision of the Future." Very 1930s. I like this one a lot!

The other Book 2 set is called "Dolls." While I find most of the dolls a little creepy, and the subject matter doesn't really interest me (I was never into collecting dolls), the set is definitely a departure from the tits and gore fest of the last update, so I'm not going to complain. Here's one of the less-creepy ones:

This is an uncommon stamp called "Lavender Doll."

I mentioned the Extra-Rare set called Portraits. And I have to say BRAVO to SAF for this set of beautifully rendered portraits. I can, in all sincerity, say that this set has produced one of my most favorite stamps to date: Guardian. Check this out:

It's ethereal and beautiful; whimsical without having to rely on any of the trappings of modern-day concepts of fantasy and whimsy (I'm talking about Disney and such). A truly unique concept and absolutely gorgeously executed. The other stamps in this collection are also good (see the Haunted stamp above). But this one is by far the stand-out, in my opinion.

The second set of extra-rare stamps was titled "Japanese Demons." Well, I do have significant interest in Japanese culture. I thought the worst when seeing the word "demons," especially how that term is typically used in American and European cultures. However, this set has turned out to be fairly nice overall. This is my favorite stamp from that set:

This stamp is called Kyubi, which is a nine-tailed fox spirit in Japanese legend (and also Korean and Chinese). The term "demon" in Japanese does not always have the negative connotation as it does in the English language. It's appeared in many forms of anime, most notably to us in the USA, the cartoon Naruto. But anyway, I like this stamp a lot and it really is a very original way of depicting Kyubi.

With the Version 12 update came yet another new collecting feature: the puzzle stamp. Basically, you trade in 5 stamps (1 rare, 2 uncommon, and 2 common) from your regular book collections (Book 1 and/or Book 2) and then you redeem those stamps for one piece of a puzzle stamps. Each puzzle stamp is made up of 3 pieces. There were 5 puzzle stamps released with this update. Most of them were bizarre manga/fantasy stamps. Not awful, but certainly not awesome. One weird stamp in particular is called "GhostSeaGiantDemon." Uh huh. Can you put together a more RANDOM set of words than that? So I took it upon myself to tack on several other names, just for the hell of it: GhostSeaGiantDemonPencilCowHelmetBanana. It's hokey:


Another puzzle stamp, called "KillGod," (another dumb name) looks like something right out of Final Fantasy X:

I'm seriously not that impressed.

And with this set of puzzle stamps came, FINALLY, a stamp for the LADIES (well, sorta):

Aww yeah! Nice back porch, Minotaur! How about you let that sheer, red sarong go, hmmm?

I'd also like to mention that I am now ranked 9th out of over 6400 players. Nothing to sneeze at, eh?

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

My Cats Are Weird

Here's how Hercules gets down from his favorite chair.

I can't tell if he's lazy or just really strong and showing off!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nothing Gold Ever Stays

I got a blessed iPhone back in March. It really is quite a modern miracle. I don't regret for one moment purchasing the iPhone (as part of my 2-year agreement with Verizon, of which I also have NO complaints).

It has made my life infinitely easier and more fun. According to Apple, there are over 500,000 apps available for the iPhone and I'm sure the iPad will overcome that number in the near future. I just can't bring myself to drop $699 on an iPad (hey if you're going to get one, may as well get the BEST one; I mean DOUBLE the GB for $100 more? Hell yes). It looks so fragile and I have no where to put it. It's too big for my purse and would get destroyed in my work messenger bag. The battery doesn't seem to last very long either (but, then again, neither does the one on my phone). My sister's boyfriend has one, so I've actually seen and used one to make my assumptions.

ANYWAY. I've got a bunch o' apps on my phone. Most of them were free. I am really cheap, as you all know. I have purchased a few games, however, that were just SO stand-out great in the free versions that it was worth the couple of bucks. Like Peggle. I absolutely lurve this game. I think the app was normally $3.99, but I got it on sale for some reason for $1.99. And it looks like NOW it's only $.99! I also bought the "Peggle Nights" expansion as in IAP for $.99. We also purchased this game for the xbox360. Very fun, addictive game and great for everyone.

Fruit Ninja is another cool game. I bought this for only $.99. I think they've adapted this game for the xbox360 as well, but we haven't so much as looked sideways at our xbox in months.

Since about May, I've been playing a game called Stamp Art Fever. I actually have the PRO version, but I got it free, so I saved myself a whopping $1.99, which is what it costs now. Anyway, the game is, in a nutshell, stamp collecting. Sounds dull. But it's oddly fun and soothing. Or at least it USED TO BE. In the last few months my silly little stamp-collecting game has grown quite bloated and is moving in a direction that disappoints me so much.

Let me preface my rant by saying that I have actually carved out a little niche for myself in this game. I am ranked 12th world-wide of iPhone app users (I think iPad has its own list) on GameCenter's leader board---12th out of about 4000. Not too shabby. [Update 12/3: I am now ranked 9th!]

So it would be nice if the game's developers would pay some attention to the folks who have been playing this game for months (it was practically new when I started playing) instead of playing to the "band-wagoners" that stroke their egos every time they make some lame announcement or "improvement" to the game.

First Problem: The developers are Italian. Now, this itself isn't exactly a problem (hey, I'm Italian too). But they have a PAID app on the market that is gaining popularity and the number of grammatical and translational errors (presumably between Italian & English) is absurdly high. I really, really think they should invest in a native-English-speaker editor for everything they do before they commit updates to the app. I know they are making money on this app. How do I know? Well for one thing, the only way to have any success in the game, at least initially) is to invest some real money in buying in-app coins to buy stamp "blisters" in order to beef up your collections for trade or what-not. In the initial month or two of my playing SAF, I must have spent about $30 on in-app purchases either for coins or other options (I'll get to that later). This is A LOT for me (recall that I am both cheap and BROKE). Imagine someone who is not cheap or broke?

Example: There is a stamp in the Extra Rare book entitled "Eagle and the Darky Wood." DARKY? Really? Maybe Italians don't realize what an offensive term that is in the United States. Or maybe it's just a typo. Either way, someone should have fucking PROOFREAD it before it was released. What makes this even MORE infuriating is that there is another stamp in the same collection entitled: "Alone in the Dark Wood." Dark. See? Hire a goddamn proofreader!

Second Problem: Obsession with "cheaters." Look, people. It's frustrating when you create a fun little game and some jerkoff out there exploits the game's code and cheats. Or screws around with their phone's settings to change the days/times/countries in order to cheat. But you know what? It happens; so get over it. No, instead the game developers reduced the number of coins a person can send and receive per day to 40K (it used to be 100K). Now 40K might seem like a lot. But when you're dealing with obsessed people (and I mean there are some people who play this game that are INSANELY obsessed) they will pay upwards of a million coins for a stamp. At 40K a day it's going to take a while to complete a trade/purchase. The developers cited the reduction to 40K per day "to prevent cheating." Um, how exactly does this prevent cheating? Especially since the cheating is probably occurring at the code-level and not the game-play level. To add insult to injury the developers decided to offer the option of paying $.99 to be able to bring the send/receive amount back to 100K. And this is To punish a few "cheaters," 4000 iPhone app users would have to cash out another $.99. Seems like a money-making scheme to me. I resisted spending the $.99 but eventually broke down. And here's the be-all, end-all: it didn't work. I STILL can only send and receive 40K. I thought about complaining to the developers, but with the language barrier, I doubt they will even know what the hell I am talking about.

Third Problem: Hall of Fame. About every month or so the developers release an update that usually offers more stamp sets to collect and some improvements. With the version 10 release, the developers instituted a Hall of Fame collection to the game. Of COURSE, this had to be unlocked through an IAP for $1.99. I absolutely refuse to pay for this. It's stupid. When the information on the version 10 update was trumpeted on the blog, they never mentioned that players would have to shell out cash for this feature. It's very unfair. Moreover, because the Hall of Fame is only open at certain times and there are limited numbers of the Hall of Fame stamps, the same few people keep buying up everything in sight to gouge people later who can only buy the stamps from them them. I reckon that the players who can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of coins on these Hall of Fame stamps are the same CHEATERS that the developers keep trying to get rid of. The game has really been reduced to 75% Hall of Fame trading/buying and 25% complaining about cheaters. Also, the Hall of Fame stamps are kind of ugly. Which brings me to...

Fourth Problem (minor problem): Most of the "Art" in the last 3 updates is tailored for dudes. And dudes who fit into one of the following 3 categories:
  1. dudes who like cheesy velvet paintings of exotic, scantly-clothed women
  2. dudes who own a van and with cheesy airbrush art of skulls, hot rods, or more scantly-clothed women
  3. dudes who like gore, horror, listen to heavy metal, or watch the history channel.

Here are some prime examples:

This is called "Lilith" and she's in the Very Important Vampires set in the Extra Rares collection. Yes. There is a whole set of stamps devoted to VAMPIRES. Lame. This falls in ALL THREE of the "dude" categories I mentioned above.

This stamp is in the Autumn set from the Book 2 collections and it is called "Romance." Romance, really? Suuure. Again this one might be lost in the translation....

The "Al Capone" stamp in the Outlaws set of the Extra Rare collection. Totally uninteresting grouping of stamps. I couldn't care less about mobsters, gangsters, or crime lords...

...or the people that chased them. Here's "Eliot Ness" from the Officers set, also in the Extra Rare collection. They based a whole set of stamps on these no-name cops. Aside from Eliot Ness and possibly Donnie Brasco, the people on these stamps are way too obscure. Have YOU ever heard of Joe Petrosino? I didn't think so.

This is a "Water Witch" from the Elemental Witches set in the Extra Rare collection. Yes. A whole set devoted to elemental witches, whatever the hell they are supposed to be. Also? There is a witch in this collection (that I don't have yet) called "Death Witch." Since when is death an element?

"Stone Witch" from the same Elemental Witches set. This is both cheesy AND ugly. Nice job, "artists."

A common "Red Skull" from the Halloween set in the Book 2 collection. Yup. A whole set devoted to Halloween (my most hated holiday ever). By the way, this collection came out in the same update as the Vampires and Elemental Witches. Talk about beating a dead horse. No one fucking cares about Halloween that much. OK? Jeez.

"Nosferatu." Another day, another shitty vampire stamp.

Lastly, I give you:

"Silence." This is in the From Hell set also in the Extra Rare collection: stamps based on horrible and/or famous murders. So lovely. Another stamp in this group is called "Helter Skelter."

You know, I want to see stamps that are pleasing to MY eyes. Since all you dudes got more than your fair share of tits and gore, I demand that the next set of stamps feature nothing but hot photos of Matthew Fox.

Like THIS :

or this:

Or this:

Or this:

Or, hell, I'll even take James Franco:


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sorry, Guys

Because I love you all, I haven't talked about my job in ages. I've pretty much resolved myself to the fact that I will be working at my job forever, so I better just buck up and make the best of my remaining years of servitude. In fact, I printed out this picture a few months ago and have it taped to the radiator behind me:

Maybe this is me having a supremely bad attitude, but whatever. I don't care.

Ahhh, when The Simpsons was actually good....

So anyway, the reason for this post is that I, once again, have to talk about my job to report on three things, only ONE of which is horrible (guess which one): 1) I have a new boss. 2) I don't have to deal with morons, er, I mean students, anymore. 3) Faculty are legally retarded and make me want to pound my face with a shovel.

1) I have a new boss, as of September 2011. He was hired from outside my department by a committee that the Dean appointed, which was a really brilliant idea since 85% of the faculty already in my department are either clueless or assholes or some combination of both. I like my new boss very much. What's even better is that he's not from the USA. So his understanding, compassion, and common sense are far superior to most faculty that I've encountered. He believes in autonomy, respects my intellect and ability to do my job, and realizes how stressful work can be---and actually TRIES TO EFFECT CHANGE. Which brings me to point 2.

2) I'm not advising students anymore. In order to prevent me from stabbing myself in the eye with my letter opener and eating thumbtacks, my boss decided to take the student advising component of my job off my plate.

At first, I was like, "YAY!"

Then about 2 hours later, I was like, "Um...yay?"

After 2-3 days, I was like a heroin addict going through withdrawal. I had advised students for so long that my brain was short circuiting.

Then I got really sad; stupid sad. Like crying-at-diaper-commercials sad.

Then, acceptance.

I sent an e-mail out to the students in my department, explaining the new advising situation. And now I feel liberated. I used to always feel this incredible weight of responsibility to 200+ random youths who can't tie their shoes or read an analog clock if their lives depended on it. They really did rely way too heavily on me fixing their problems and bearing the burden of responsibility for THEIR academic careers. I was too accessible; I made things too easy for them, and they knew it. Here's an e-mail I received from a student:

"Everyone in my 301 is mourning the loss of you as an advisor. We decided to have "Occupy XXXXX's Office" until they change it. Though the thought was that XXXXX wouldn't even be in their office anyway."

3) Stop...just stop. So sometimes we have to hire new faculty. Faculty positions come in one of three forms: an adjunct (total crap job), an auxiliary (slightly less crap job), or a tenure-track (the Holy Grail of teaching jobs). We are in the process of hiring a few of those much-sought-after tenure-track positions; a process during which I have endured the most addle-brained idiots on the planet. The job(s) had multiple postings with various online services (which I wrote and posted) and, I think, quite CLEARLY explain what's required. To wit:

Applications MUST be submitted online via XXXX. Mailed, faxed, or e-mailed applications will NOT be accepted. Questions may be addressed to Prof. Not Gina at
Candidates should include: 1) a cover letter; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) up to three samples of your scholarly writing; and 4) the names and email addresses of at least three references.

Uh huh. Not so much. Afraid not.

First of all, if I had a dollar for every person who e-mailed ME about these stupid fucking jobs, I could pay off my mortgage. So let me get this straight: The job ad gives you the name and e-mail address of a contact person who is not me. It's RIGHT THERE. We did all the work for you. Yet, you either:
a) went to my university's website, found my department's website, searched the department's list of faculty and staff and then decided to e-mail me. WHY? How did you even know I would have anything to DO with the job posting? OR
b) you searched for my university and department on the site where you saw the job posting and then noticed my name there as the contact person for that particular site. Again WHY, when we already told you who to contact and it's NOT ME?

Second, want to take a guess at what the number-one question was? A: "Where do I send my recommendation letters?" Where? UP YOUR ASS, that's where. We've gotten over 500 applications for these positions. Do you really think we can manage THREE or FOUR letters of recommendation for EACH of you? Morons, your bus is leaving.

Keep in mind that these people have Ph.D.'s.

One example of idiocy:

Dear Ms. Waters,

I submitted online my application for the faculty search, but I did not see on the website a way to attach confidential letters of recommendation. If it's convenient for you, I can have these sent via email from, an on-line portfolio website.

Dude...really? At least that person asked first. I got SEVERAL unsolicited e-mails from with recommendation letters attached for various applicants. To which I responded:

We have not requested, nor wish to receive any application materials at this time. This applicant apparently did not pay attention to the instructions in our job posting.

Thank you,
Gina Waters

One guy got pissed that I called him out with interfolio. They notified him that I complained about the submission on his behalf and he responded directly to me:

Dear Ms. Waters,

Thanks for your note below. I submitted my application materials at as instructed by the job ad. However, I wasn’t comfortable having you solicit letters directly from my recommenders for a few reasons. One of the writers is out of the country for the year and literally unreachable by email for long stretches of time. Another is so disorganized when it comes to such matters that it is a virtual impossibility that he would successfully get the letter to you. A third agreed to write a letter on the condition that he didn’t get besieged by emails asking him to log in and load it to various websites. And though unfortunate, I am a bit sympathetic with this attitude; having written many letters for my own students, I’m well aware of the time required to compose a thoughtful letter. For these reasons, I thought it best to send this one piece of my application packet directly to you. Apologies for the breach of protocol. I hope, though, that you might be able to understand my predicament. Is there any alternative way to get the letters to you?


DUDE. NO. There are so many things wrong with this guy that I don't even know where to begin. Look, bottom line: If your references are a) out of the country b) extraordinarily disorganized and c) too stupid, put-out, arrogant, etc. to figure out how to send one for you then I suggest you GET DIFFERENT REFERENCES, JERKOFF. Also? WE DON'T WANT THE GORRAM LETTERS. Capisce?

Maybe these people never learned to read or were never encouraged as children. I swear I couldn't make this shit up if I tried:

Dear Ms. Waters,

In your jobs listing, you ask for names and email addresses of three references. Does that mean that you do not want letters, sent either electronically or through the mail?

Thank you for your time,


Dear Ms. Waters,

This is an applicant for the tenure track position. I've completed the online applications, but how shall I send the recommendation letters? Can my professors email them directly?

Thanks a lot!


Dear Ms. Waters,

I am writing with regards to my application for the tenure-track position. I submitted my application online last week but I did not receive any confirmation regarding the submission. Also, I did not find any instructions for how to submit my recommendation letters. Should I have my recommenders e-mail the letters to you directly?

Please let me know the best way to proceed. Many thanks for your help.

Best wishes,

O_o F'REAL???

Here's an irate e-mail I received from a applicant. See, apparently their inability to use the online job site or read at a 5th-grade level is MY FAULT:

Hello there,

As you might guess, I have a question about getting letters for my application to your department. I hope you can clarify things for me.

I am applying for an open faculty position. I filled everything out online (at the jobs website), but, contrary to what your job advertisement instructs, the website never gathered information from me on my letters of reference (who is writing the letters and how to contact the letter writers).

Did the website malfunction or is this the correct procedure? Or am I supposed to ask my letter writers to send their letters to Drexel as soon as possible, and if so, where?

As you can tell, I am confused as to the status of my application and the letters to be attached to my application.


"Contrary to what your job advertisement instructs...." Hmm...curious. Let's go back and review what the instructions are, shall we?

Candidates should include: 1) a cover letter; 2) curriculum vitae; 3) up to three samples of your scholarly writing; and 4) the names and email addresses of at least three references. DO NOT SEND RECOMMENDATION LETTERS.

Well, there you go. So let's see if I can explain this because you never passed middle-school reading comprehension. Remember how you just loaded your cover letter and your cv and your writing samples? It was all of 2 minutes ago, so think hard. I'll wait.... Got it? Good. Well, that's how you FUCKING SUBMIT THE NAMES AND CONTACT INFORMATION. Hey, I have a door knob that needs humping, you available?

My response:

Hello Professor Douchewagon:

The XXXX site does not have a special mechanism for entering contact information regarding your references. We did not specifically instruct you to enter information this way. We expected that you would include the contact information for your references as part of your CV or cover letter, or attach the information as a supporting document.

If the XXXX system does not allow you to go back and attach the contact information in one of the manners I mentioned above, don't worry about it. If your application moves to the next stage, the search committee will contact you about how to submit letters of recommendation.

DO NOT send any recommendation letters at this time.

Guess who had interfolio send me their letters...? Yup. That's right. DOUCHEWAGON.

You know what? I'm done. You can all go jump off a bridge. What's most frustrating about this whole thing? We HAVE to choose three or four people from this pool of dumbasses. So I might not be advising students anymore, but my moron-to-admin ratio is about to be further skewed.