Lady Goosepelt

Fuzz Junket

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

Millennials: Are They Really People?

The latest data from behavioral studies show that Millennials do not consume food the same way as ordinary human beings. I decided to camp out at the local combination kaffeeklatsch, artisanal sushi bar, and USB charging station to see if these findings really were substantiated. Sure enough, everyone there between the ages of 20 and 30 first looked at their food in disgust, then took a photo of it.

Curious to find out more about this phenomenon, I introduced myself to one such diner. “Hi, I’m a journalist and…”

A journalist?” she interrupted. “Like for a newspaper?” In an instant she had turned her phone on me and snapped a picture. “Oh my god, this is going straight onto Tumblr.”

Actually it’s for a blog.”

She raised an eyebrow at me. “Is there a podcast that goes with it?”

Yeah,” I said. There is no podcast, but I did my best not to let her smell my fear.

With original music from a local band?” she pressed.


Go ahead,” she said, turning back to her phone. “But make it quick. There’s drama on Twitter and I need to stay on top of this.”

I asked, “Why did you take a photo of your food before you could eat it?”

What, you mean I should eat it without taking a photo? Like, raw?”

Millennials are the generation after Generation X, born sometime in the 1980s or 90s. They are the Internet’s native denizens, children born into a world of booming technology that has revolutionized the way we live. Millennials are now reaching working age, and their cultural detachment from previous generations is notorious for causing friction in the modern workplace.

The latest research, however, shows that Millennials are more than just culturally different. On average they are taller, their eyes are larger, they can achieve higher speeds over short distances, and like animals they seem to be able to smell fear and sense when the old or terminally ill are about to die. There is even evidence that they are capable of short-range telepathy. When blindfolded, nine out of ten Millennials could identify which meals had been photographed and which had not, and four out of ten could even tell which social medium the photo had been posted to. In similar tests Millennials were blindfolded and asked to identify the age of a stranger standing in the room. 88% could distinguish members of their own generation from the Gen Xers and the Baby Boomers. When a Baby Boomer stepped into the room, one Millennial was even heard to utter, “Urgh. This one smells like Bob Dylan sounds.”

So how can we get along with these children of the future? Many management guides advocate simply not hiring Millennials because of the common perception that they are lazy and selfish workers. The 2014 Harvard Business School Management Handbook actually argues we should take up pitchforks and flaming torches and chase Millennials off the edge of cliffs for transgressing against the laws of nature. This kind of reactionary nonsense, however, is typical of the Baby Boomers. We need to learn to embrace Millennials and accept their strange and enlightened vision of the future. If you manage an office, consider allowing Millennials to take afternoon naps or personal days off work. Reserve a conference room as a meditation center where Millennials can plug into social media and enter their otherworldly Delphic trances. Be sure to remove all furniture from the room to allow the Millennials to float freely three or four inches above the floor. Laugh at their jokes even if you do not understand them, and under no circumstances should you be tempted to actually read Reddit. You will only be horrified because, like the future, it’s simply not for you. The world belongs to the Millennials now. The most we can do is accept that fact and do our best not to anger our future overlords.

How to Suck at Scrabble

(But Have Fun Doing It)

I love me a good bit of Scrabble. It’s the best game for feeling smart without actually being smart. People think it’s about having a large vocabulary, which isn’t completely true — strategy plays a bigger part, I would say, and chance bigger still. I’ve seen brilliant players of decades derailed by unlucky tiles, and yet when you win you think, “Yes, Mattel, I am a genius, thank you for noticing.” If you really were a genius, you’d be playing something like chess, that a) wasn’t copyrighted in the ’50s by a children’s toy company, and b) has nothing to do with luck.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun, though, and the element of chance means you have to depend on your ingenuity even more when you need to dig yourself out of a deep bear-pit. I didn’t used to be all that interested in it, but I’ve since had several exes who fed my addiction and introduced me to some variations of the game. For reasons that will later become clear, let’s call the first ex the Scrabbleshark. Let’s call the second one Stropic Thunder.

But house rules are a dangerous game. There’s no better way to suck at real Scrabble than playing your own janky homebrew version because when you forget all your old strategies. I’ve been playing online Scrabble for so long now that I don’t think I’d be able to play the board game properly. The problem in that case is that you don’t get penalized for incorrect words, which means your strategy morphs from skilled gameplay into trying as many variations on “JZYXQ” as possible and hoping one of them sticks. There was a great article on Forbes about this a few years ago1, and if it weren’t for the fact that I need my Scrabble fix and there aren’t any popular alternatives, I’d have quit online Scrabble a long time ago.

Although house rules can screw you up, there are some variations that make it better as a party game. Your average game of Scrabble is a competitive thing — you’re pitting your strategy and knowledge against your opponents’ and you’re scoring points meticulously. There’s always that guy with the pencil and paper ready to tell you that no, you can’t play your tiles in that direction because YOUR FACE that’s why. A large number of Scrabble variants are already documented, but I was pleased to see none of these are on the list.

One-Tray Scrabble

I got introduced to this a few years ago by the Scrabbleshark and his family. In One-Tray Scrabble you only have one tray of letters, and with each turn you pass it onto the next player. This makes for a faster game, but it also means that if you get any good letters, you have to use them right away or else the next player will get them. In this game it doesn’t even matter who else sees your tiles, but then I don’t think that makes any strategic difference — it just means you don’t have to guard your tray like a Nazi with the German codes.

I played One-Tray Scrabble with the Scrabbleshark and his family, and his mother is by all accounts a diabolical player with no mercy or forgiveness. It made me very happy that I won, which also meant that I could never play them again in case I spoiled my perfect record.

Phonetic Scrabble

Phonetic Scrabble was described to me by Stropic Thunder. But first, I think, a little back-story. When I met Stropic Thunder I discovered that he’d been on an ill-starred date with the Scrabbleshark. It’s San Francisco — these things happen more often than I’d like to contemplate. Sometimes I think there’s a really gross game of “six degrees of separation” to be played.

Anyhow, Stropic Thunder had been on a date with the Scrabbleshark. The date nose-dived faster than a Malaysia Airlines flight, but at some point the Scrabbleshark had managed to trick Stropic Thunder into a game of Scrabble. The Scrabbleshark had passed himself off as only a casual player and then proceeded to trounce Stropic Thunder and earn his nickname in one afternoon.

Stropic Thunder was a bit leery of the game at this point, but he got some satisfaction out of bending the rules. He and his best friend had invented a variation called Phonetic Scrabble in which your words don’t have to be spelled correctly — they just have to sound like an actual word.

Challenge Scrabble

Challenge Scrabble is the only one of these games that I can lay any claim to. The others were invented without me, but I actually had a hand in this one. I forget how it started, though I’m like 99% sure I’d been drinking which would explain both how it happened and why I can’t remember it. It was invented on a date with Stropic Thunder (whose nickname, by the way, is not based on board games — this one’s all personality).

In Challenge Scrabble you have to complete a challenge set by the other players. Let’s say it’s your turn and your opponents decide your next move has to spell out the name of an American president. You could play “Bush” or “Truman”. You could play “Calvin” or “Ulysses”. You could even play “Dubya” if you wanted, because half the fun about the challenges is thinking up inventive ways around them. Now it’s the next player’s turn and you decide they must play a word that describes their boyfriend/girlfriend. Watch them squirm.

The reason I like Challenge Scrabble best isn’t just that I co-invented it, but also that it is such a good party game. You don’t need to keep score, and you don’t need to keep your tray private if you don’t want. The fun of the game is in the challenges and they can be as tricky or as personal as you like.


In what scientists are calling “a good idea”, I’m now seeing a boy who does not play Scrabble.

In an effort not to talk out of my arse, I did search for people who might have invented these variations sooner. Phonetic Scrabble, I gather, is not a new invention, but as far as I can tell One-Tray Scrabble is unique. I’m pretty sure Challenge Scrabble is unique too because Stropic Thunder and I came up with it on the spur of the moment, but if it does already exist then it’s a happy case of multiple discovery. Or two sets of drunks eventually arriving at the same conclusion, whichever makes you happier.


Ruin My Website

It seems like forever ago that I did something pointless with JavaScript. Actually scratch that, it was like today. What I mean is it’s forever since I did anything fun with JavaScript. Practically the only fun thing I’ve ever done with JavaScript was a Greasemonkey plugin1 called Julius, Eat Your Heart Out, which did a simple search/replace on any website you visited to replace the names of the months with my own very special versions:

  • January → Snotviper
  • February → Loosecorn
  • March → Dripwobble
  • April → Imsquelchy
  • May → Wetmold
  • June → Cleanpants
  • July → Strangelymoist
  • August → Fatflaps
  • September → Rottenchops
  • October → Blackndangley
  • November → Stinkmuch
  • December → Catspit

I once heard a song by April March on YouTube. I’m sorry Ms. Imsquelchy Dripwobble, but this is your real name now.

While this is all good and fun, I want to invite you wonderful people to make your own fun. That’s why I’ve knocked together a simple script called Ruin My Website. The source is really nothing to write home about, but I’ve always been impressed by how much you can wreck with so few lines of code. When you include this in your website’s head2, any visitor to your site can enter parameters in the URL to do a search/replace on your site’s content. All the code has to do is loop through the URL parameters, search for each key, and replace it with its respective value. It’s running on my website this very second.

Try it! Try it now! Just add something like “?Ruin=Rear-End&Website=Toyota” to the end of the URL on this page. All it takes is a little ingenuity to turn this:

Before Ruining

Into this:

After Ruining

No, please, no need to thank me. Simply knowing I’ve added to the progress of our species is satisfaction enough for me.

EDIT: Although I tried and couldn’t get “Ruin” to execute JS injected via the URL parameters, acyclicks advised that there was a potential security risk. I’ve updated the code to HTML-escape the parameter values. Thanks, acyclicks!


  1. Also, what the hell? Did disappear? I had to go spelunking for the source of “Julius” on the Internet because I lost my own copy years ago. 

  2. I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader to make a Greasemonkey script or browser extension out of this so you can enjoy it on any website you visit.