Make your iGoogle homepage look less Googley with new video game themes

Even though I’m annoyed by the suspicious pervasiveness of Google in my life, I still use iGoogle as my homepage. One of the things I enjoy about it is that I can customize it with themes. Until now, the typical iGoogle theme has consisted of a big header and a coordinating color scheme for modules and content. Some of the fancy ones are designed by real artists, or change depending on the time of day, phase of the moon, etc.

Today, I was greeted by a message at the top of my page, announcing Gaming Themes for iGoogle! This was very exciting news for me on a Monday morning!

I quickly browsed the of game themes, and found Wii Sports, Mario, Spore, World of Warcraft, and even Galaga!

lara croftI settled on Tomb Raider: Underworld, because I look exactly like Lara Croft (yeah, right), and there are several more I haven’t mentioned (Lord of the Rings: Conquest, Call of Duty: World at War, Donkey Kong…).

The verdict? Two thumbs up! A great cure for a case of the Monday blahs!

Lara Croft artwork from freakygaming

Gamer girls: Apply for $10000 scholarship in game development

GIRL gamers in real life

Sony Online Entertainment is sponsoring a $10,000 scholarship to encourage women in the field of video game development. If you’re currently enrolled in an undergraduate program related to video games, you should check this out!

Applications are now being accepted for the 2009 G.I.R.L. (stands for Gamers In Real Life) Scholarship to help educate and recruit more women into the field of video game production and design. Sponsored by Sony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) a global leader in online gaming, and administered by Scholarship America®, a leading non-profit educational support program, applications are available at and more details, including official rules for entry are available online at

What’s included in the prize?

  • $10,000 to be applied toward tuition and other educational expenses at the school at which the student is currently enrolled
  • An optional paid internship of up to 10 weeks at Sony Online Entertainment’s headquarters in San Diego, California (room, board, transportation and living expenses not included), to work on the upcoming online video game Free Realms™

Sometimes I wish I was still in college, because there are so many new and interesting opportunities in the computer/tech/gaming fields now. I might have chosen to major in something other than biology, although I loved my program, too.

If you’re eligible for this scholarship, visit the G.I.R.L. site for all of the details, and submit your entry early. Let me know if you win! Good luck!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Well, I love these JibJab videos that you can customize with your own photos. They’re hilarious and electronic, so all the time I might otherwise spend reading and rejecting paper cards at the drugstore can be spent (double) working on this nonsense. Anyhow, here’s one for St. Patrick’s Day, or as my son called it this morning, “Leprechaun Day.” Cheers!

Steve Wozniak trades his Segway for dancing shoes

Steve Wozniak and Karina SmirnoffI’ve been a big fan of Dancing With the Stars since it began, but I’m even more excited about this season, because Steve Wozniak will be dancing! From the DWTS site:

DANCING WITH THE STARS – STEVE WOZNIAK — A Silicon Valley icon and philanthropist for the past three decades, Steve Wozniak, a.k.a. “The Woz,” helped shape the computer industry with his design of Apple’s first line of products, the Apple I and II, and influenced the popular Macintosh. After leaving Apple Computer Inc. in 1985, he was involved in various business and philanthropic ventures, focusing primarily on computer capabilities in schools and stressing hands-on learning and encouraging creativity for students. In 2000 Steve was inducted into the Inventors Hall of Fame and was awarded the prestigious Heinz Award for Technology, The Economy and Employment. He is also a published author with the release in 2006 of his New York Times best-selling autobiography, “iWoz: From Computer Geek to Cult Icon.” He teams with Karina Smirnoff, who returns for her sixth season.

I don’t know much about the Woz, but I know he dated comedienne Kathy Griffin for a while, and he doesn’t watch much television. I think I’ll have to read that autobiography of his, because besides being a genius, he seems to have a quirky, “sure, why not?” sense about him, and I like that! Dancing? Sure, why not! Pink satin shirt? Sure, why not!

I wish Woz the best in his dancing endeavors, and I know he’ll make the geek/nerd world proud. Go WOZ! Please don’t get voted off before Lil Kim! 🙂

If this is some new gadget, I don’t want one!

I snapped this fuzzy photo with my phone, while waiting for an extremely long time, in a very short line (yes, it’s possible) at the party supply store. I love gadgets and new tech stuff, but I’ll pass on this one. Click photo for a larger view.

funny product label

Okay, it’s really for Assorted Light-up Easter Pencils, but it was funny!

Kiss My Grits! Dinnertime is Driving me Crazy!

Alice cast

I love my family! And I love to cook. Check that. I used to enjoy cooking. Or… I enjoy cooking for people who will eat and appreciate whatever I prepare. Unfortunately, that is not the situation in my home these days.

Two of my three children have or had food allergies, which made feeding times challenging when they were toddlers. My oldest (now 9) was allergic to lots of things, including dairy products, tomato, citrus, strawberries, soy, peanut butter… Just about “everything.” My second (now 7) was allergic to wheat. The set of foods that they both could and would eat was extremely small.

Mercifully, the youngest (just turned 4) doesn’t have any food allergies. Hallelujah!

To make a long story short, what started out as cooking to accommodate the kids’ allergies and prevent anaphylaxis, has developed into a habit of me running a Denny’s in my own kitchen. I’m like a short-order cook behind the counter. One wants macaroni without cheese (he’s allergic to cheese), the other wants French toast (he could eat macaroni, but won’t), and the Hubby prefers a normal meal, but nothing with peas, beans, or potatoes.

Ding! Order up!

Do you see why I’m going insane?! Every day, every meal, I’m running around the kitchen. Water boiling, toast toasting, microwave nuking, etc. Kiss my grits! (Flo, the sassy waitress at Mel’s Diner in the sitcom “Alice,” remember?)

I finally came up with an idea to make things a little bit easier on myself. It’s been in effect for a grand total of two days, but it’s working pretty well so far. In case there are any other overworked, kitchen-weary parents out there, I thought I’d share my solution.

At dinner on Sunday, I told the crew that I wasn’t going to take special orders any longer. I assigned Hubby and the kids the task of agreeing on five dinners that they would ALL eat. If this sounds ridiculous to you, you must have an easy family to feed, because it was no easy project for my bunch.

After about 30 minutes of lively discussion, they had assembled this list:

  • Pizza night
  • Taco/Nacho night
  • Spaghetti and breadsticks night
  • Snack/Buffet night (fruit, cheese, yogurt, bread, etc.)
  • Grill night (burgers, brats, etc.)

Those five things will be rotated each week, and on the other two days, we’ll have leftovers or something special.

So that’s the plan. I’m feeling saner already. I went grocery shopping today and bought everything I’ll need for the rest of the week. And the ritual of 5:00 dinner panic has come to an end. Let’s hope they still like pizza a month from now. 🙂 Cheers!