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Minecraft Chess Set


On my birthday the most wonderful thing happened. My sister and brother in-law with their creative forces combined created

my very own….

Minecraft Chess Set!

It came complete with spiders, pigs, sheepy sheeps, chickens, endermen, cows, ghasts, squids, oh my!

On what I presume to be “the good side,” you have chicken pawns, sheep rooks, pig knights, cow bishops, I’m a queen, and my boyfriend is a king.

The bad guy side! Here we have spiders as pawns, creepers as rooks, zombies as knights, skeleton archers as bishops, an enderman king, and a ghastly queen.

That’s right! There are rare pieces of me and my bf.

Here’s me!

My boo!

I was truly spoiled this year!

Minecraft, Crafting a World that is Mine


I kill a skeleton archer and pull out my wooden crafting table. Within the nine squares on my table, I can create almost anything: boats, shovels, swords, axes, you name it I make it. I place the skeleton bone on the table and it instantly turns into bone meal. How this happens, don’t ask me. With my newly acquired bone meal, I run out into the yard and sprinkle it on a mushroom. Instantly the tiny red toadstool shooms up into the air, and soon towers over my house.

I decide that I would like to have a mushroom house in my yard, so I collect some sticks and go back to my handy dandy crafting table. With seven sticks I can create one rung of a ladder. Forty nine sticks later I have a ladder tall enough to the scale the height of my new giant mushroom. On top of my fungal monstrosity, I begin to build a balcony, a treasure chest, and a bed. Could you imagine the rent I could charge on a one person, Mushroom Studio Apartment?

No, don’t worry, I’m not high on shrooms. Or maybe I might be high on top of one mushroom – but it’s not that kind of shroom. I’m simply playing the best game ever – Minecraft. The 32 bit graphics are nothing special compared to the ultra-realistic ones of today’s gaming systems. You may not be able to fight an ice-troll realistic enough to place on an HDTV, but the primitive graphics of Minecraft have their charm.

Many gamers actually prefer more simplistic graphics. It’s a breath of fresh air from all the flash and glitz of modern gaming. (This is the exact reason why Mega Man games released in 2010 look the same as they did in 1987).

Each time you play the game, a completely new world map is generated.  When you begin, you will be spawned into a random biome: forest, taiga (with spruce trees and wolves), swampland, extreme hills, desert, plains, ocean, tundra, or a mushroom island. What’s better is that these world maps are huugeamongous!  A minecraft world map is actually 1.235 times the size of the Earth. If you don’t believe me, download the game yourself.

Minecraft brings both the elements of creativity and survival together. The player is basically given the chance to create their own world, a world made up of 3D cubical formations on a fixed grid.  Each cube represents a different material on the earth: dirt, grass, gold, water, lava, gravel, cobblestone, etc. Gameplay involves collecting these cubes and crafting them into new materials – the possibilities are vast! Among more interesting creations, some players have made castles and roller coasters in their mine-craft worlds.

The world also has a 20 minute day cycle, 10 minutes of daytime and 10 minutes of night time. When the day transitions into night your character must be cautious. It is at this time that monsters come out to harass you. This motley crew includes zombies, skeleton archers, and an annoying creature called a “creeper.” A creeper is a green, frowning enemy that runs towards you, hissing all the way. If the creeper manages to hug you – you and it will both explode. I guess I would also frown all the time if I exploded every time I gave someone a hug.

What’s even more incredible about the game though, is that it was created independently by two people.  The main designer, Markus Persson created this game when he wasn’t at his main job, working for When the game’s popularity took off, he quit his job in order to create his own gaming company, Mojang.

The game itself is cheap and easily obtained. With a mere 20 bucks it will take you less than 10 minutes to download the game off of the Minecraft site. With only 20 dollars down, you have the opportunity to create world larger than the Earth itself, filled with castles, portals to hell, and floating islands in the sky. The possibilities are almost endless. Some people like to focus on the fighting aspect of the game, building up an armory of diamond swords so they can raid other people’s bases and steal their stuff. Some people focus more on the architectural aspect, building beautiful and sturdy homes from Obsidian blocks.

And me? Well…I’ll continue adding onto my mushroom house for now. As my home in real life remains cluttered with unwashed dishes and stacks of paper, my 32 bit home begins to sport glass windows and flower décor.

I hope this review was enticing enough to convince you to purchase the game. What’s that you say? “That’ll be the day that pigs fly?” Well, you’re in luck. The game has that too! Looking forward to seeing you!

A Jess of All Trades


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American will have 7-10 occupations in their lifetime. I am 23 years old and I have already had twelve. I’ve bagged groceries, assisted a veterinarian, sold greeting cards, taught children, brewed coffee, mixed alcoholic drinks, waited tables, wrote up lesson plans for a daycare, checked out books at a library, sold time shares on the phone, did a voice recording for a commercial, and have taught English as a Second Language at a university.

At a time when the economy is at an all-time low, and people are begging for one job, I’ve managed to juggle three jobs while attending school full time. So let me give you the scoop on what to do – even though I haven’t worked at an ice cream parlor.

Be Resourceful

Be open and available to any opportunity the world provides you. Look at every flyer you pass. Copy down every number you see. Apply to places you frequent regularly – the local CVS, the library, the bank, the pub, etc. As the old expression goes, “don’t leave any rock unturned.” In fact, don’t leave any mountains unturned either! There might be a Sherpa job available if you look in the right place.

You are not beneath any line of work

I talk to many college students who complain about how hard it is to get a job, any job. I don’t blame them. It can be rather degrading to attend interview after interview only to be denied each time. Yet many of my peers I talk to have a specific job in mind: a clean cushie job with an office, a living salary, and benefits. After all, what the hell is the point of wasting thousands of dollars on a college education if you’re going to work at the local gas station or taco joint? Of course one should pursue their ideal line of work first. Yet if the pickings are slim, I would suggest searching new vineyards.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a blue collar or retail job. These jobs do not make you less of a person in any way. If anything, jobs like these build people skills, character, and empathy. At one of my retail jobs, my supervisor said:

You know how every citizen in Israel has to spend a year doing military service? Well I think every American should be drafted into one year of retail. After all, retail is such a big part of our culture and day to day interactions – everyone should know what it feels like to be the person behind the register, dealing with everyone else’s crap.

If it’s any consolation, you won’t have to do this job forever. Think of it as a temporary fix until you manage to get the job you actually want.  Also, employers would rather see that you were working at McDonalds, than sitting around your house unemployed and playing xbox for three months. While I appreciate your efforts in saving the human race from aliens in Halo 3, I don’t think that reasoning will work with your employers.

What if I can’t get a blue collar/retail job? What if I can’t get any job?

When someone closes a door you need to open a window. Know what I mean? There is always a way out of any situation, you just have to make your own exit. And what if you’re thrown in a prison cell? Well, sharpen the nearest object into a pointy shiv and dig your way out! Be proactive! If there are absolutely no jobs in your area, not even a vacancy as a Walmart Greeter, it may be time to move or even start your own business.

Consider Jobs in Growing Fields

Since America has a fairly large population of aging baby boomers, many of the future jobs will be in geriatric fields, health care, home assistance, dental hygiene, and physical therapy. A degree in nursing or physical therapy will be about as useful as an oxygen tank on the moon.

Also, it goes without saying that the information technology field is growing at an explosive rate. Jobs as Network Systems and Data Communication analysts and computer software engineers are readily available for those with the right qualifications and experience. Let the recession do what it will, many people in my generation would rather go a winter without heat – than a week without the internet or a smartphone.

Improve Your Skills

Not just your ninja skills and extreme Bass fishing skills! I’m talking about skills that’ll make you money, skills that will put dollar signs in your employer’s eyes when they look at your resume. A list of the following skills are useful for obtaining future employment:

  • The Ability to Speak  a Second Language
  • People Skills (duh!)
  • Proficiency with technology
  • The ability to type more than 60 words per minute
  • Basic knowledge of Microsoft Office Programs
  • And feel free to drag any other fun ability into the mix. Maybe you don’t want to tell your employer that you can burp the Canadian Anthem. But if you mention that you do something interesting like play the guitar, or that you do modeling in your free time, you’ll seem like a more well-rounded and interesting person.

There are simple and cheap ways that you can improve upon said skills. The library is one useful, FREE, and highly unused resource that you can use to improve upon any of these skills. There are dozens of books on language and technology at your disposal. Also, if you attend a university, there are often free courses you can take to improve your ability to type quickly or to make a spreadsheet in excel.

It’s Not What You Know, But Who You Know

Clishes exist because they are true. Utilize your friends as you would the library. I know this makes me sound like a terrible person, but I don’t care because I have a job. Go through the entire contact list on your phone or Facebook to see if there is anyone you know who can connect you with a job opening. I obtained half my jobs just by having friends in the right areas. I acquired a job teaching at a university, even though I don’t have a degree, because I was friends with the head of the department. Long story short, I did her a favor once, and she returned it three-fold by giving me a job. Karma can be a bitch, but it can be your best friend too if you treat it right!

Lie. Lie and Wear Fire Proof Pants, So They Don’t Catch On Fire

I know this sounds terrible. But everyone lies a little at a job interview. Don’t tell tall tales, but it doesn’t hurt to embellish upon the truth. “I wasn’t employed this summer because I was volunteering for Habitat for Humanity,” sounds better than, “I couldn’t find a job, so I decided to work on my tan;” Even if you only volunteered a couple of times.

Don’t make up a bogus lie like, “I have 5 years’ worth of experience in marketing,” because then your employer will ask you for references and proof. But if your employer asks you something like, “Are you a people person?” It will probably be better to simply say “yes,” rather than, “I have no friends, but I’m really good at Solitaire.”


If someone took your food away, would you sit on the sofa until you dropped dead? No! Think the same way about your job. A job equals money, independence, food, and shelter. Maybe you won’t get a job the first time you apply, and maybe you won’t even get it the 30th time. But you will get one eventually if you keep trying. One of my friends went through 32 job interviews before he obtained his current job, but now he has his own place and is doing a job in his field of interest. The best things in life are worth struggling for, so welcome the struggle. The reward will be that much sweeter.

Oh…and one more thing, if this advice does help you to get a job – a really nice job with a company car, a six figure salary, paid vacations, and free medical insurance – don’t forget who gave you this wonderful advice when you are looking for a new hire.

A Rolling Rock Night


I was in shock. My dad was actually going to let me sleep over at a boy’s house. My friend Daniel’s dad was a lobbyist and he had a silver tongue. Or rather, he knew exactly how to plant himself in one place and complain endlessly until he got what he wanted. After an endless barrage of persuasion, he finally convinced my dad that I would be safe at his house. The agreement was that Daniel and I were absolutely not – under any circumstance – allowed to drink.

We were two 15 year olds, in a basement with a fridge full of beer, on New Year’s Day. What do you think we were going to do? Pass the night away playing Yahtzee?

As soon as his parents were in bed we each grabbed a bottle of Rolling Rock. My parents’ had let me have individual sips of beer before, but I never had my own bottle. I hated it. Each sip made my stomach lurch the Electric Slide. At that moment I longed for chocolate milk or apple juice. But we weren’t kids anymore and not quite adults either. We were something awkward and in between.

I gulped my bottle down quickly so I could spend less time tasting it. I began to feel a little woozie and slightly silly, kind of like I just got off a roller coaster ride. After all, we did just drink a Rolling Rock. Within a half hour we began making blog updates.

Me: Weeeeee!!! I just had a few rolling rocks, butt I’m fine! I can even spell. I’m n0oot a polar bear in an icecream factory.

Daniel: hi this is daniel. Im sorta kinda drunk. my arms feel reeeeeeaaaaally heavy right now. And the roomis kind stupid.

We decided that each bottle we consumed would get hid in the sofa. At the time, in drunk logic, it made sense. Trust me! With the fifth bottle the room became VERY stupid! I was on a merry go round that I couldn’t get off. I sprinted to the toilet and vomited like I never vomited before. All five Rolling Rocks along with dinner spewed before me.

Daniel tapped at the door. He wanted to know if he could get me anything. He was holding his liquor far better than I was. “Get me some Saltine Crackers! It might be bland enough to settle my stomach.” 5 minutes later he came back and handed me a Hershey’s Chocolate Bar. I proceeded to vomit more and scream at him.

At that moment Daniel’s mom woke up. She told me to sleep on my side so I wouldn’t choke on my own vomit. I lay on the sofa, sideways, not sleeping much. I would doze off for 20 minutes only to wake up to the continual spinning of the room. My stomach continued to lurch even though it was empty. My throat compulsively gagged on nothingness.

After a long painful night the morning finally came. My dad sat down on the sofa next to me, expressionless, saying nothing. Daniel’s dad handed him a mug of coffee. Both his parents were shaking with nervous energy – his mom still in her blue bathrobe. “Don’t worry! We didn’t do anything sexual!” Daniel blurted out. I could’ve died with embarrassment.

His parents frowned. I think my dad might’ve chuckled. I remember his dad talking a mile a minute but not really saying anything, like a train continuing to spew smoke even though it was breaking down. But my dad said nothing. It was this still anger that scared me – the calm before the storm.

I collected my things and climbed into the passenger seat of his black Ford Explorer. I felt empty enough for the wind to blow me away with one gust. My head was pounding. The slightest sliver of sun light was like a laser surgically piercing my skull – most of all though, I was scared. “Jessica.” He began. “I’m so disappointed in you. Rolling Rock is a terrible brand of beer.”