Business Jargon That Needs to Stop

When I started working in business, I noticed that some of my coworkers used quirky phrases in the office. At first it was only every so often. But the more I was exposed to other departments and people in the company, the more I heard these phrases — nay, clichées — from pretty much everyone. I hear them most often from those of my colleagues that have an MBA. As someone without an MBA, I have to wonder if “Business Jargon 101” is one of the mandatory courses. In all seriousness, though, business jargon has become so overused that it’s actually driving me crazy. Here are some of the worst offenders that really need to go away.

Action Items

When I record actions I am planning to take, I call it a to-do list. But when you’re in a meeting, you have to have Action Items. Usually they’re recorded and tracked by some sort of Project Manager. The problem is when people consider the Action Items to be things the PM will manage, rather than the things they have to do themselves. Even worse, sometimes the Action Item is to hold another meeting to talk about something from this meeting (that you could probably just talk about right now). See also: next steps and takeaways.

Learnings

A.k.a. Things You Learn. This word is grammatically incorrect and wholly unnecessary.

To Your Point

This one isn’t really business jargon. It’s simply a phrase that people seem to use a lot in business to sound a little fancier than “like you said”. Maybe agreeing with others is only impressive when you find a way to restate what they already said.

Net-Net

As a physics major, I will tell you that this is not a real thing. It’s either not net (i.e. there are still considerations to be made on the total), or it is net. There is no net-net. It’s just not a thing.

Take It Offline

I’ll cut this one a little slack. I understand wanting to have certain conversations “offline” — as in, face to face and not in a large meeting — when you’re currently “online” — as in, during a large meeting or video/telephone conference call. But when you blur the lines between off- and online, what’s the point of using this word in the first place? If you’re currently in an in-person meeting with only a handful of people, don’t tell someone you’ll take it offline. Just tell them you’ll talk later.

Solution (as a verb)

Most people know that “solution” is a noun. In business, though, that’s not always the case. “Solutioning” just means “finding a solution”. Except it doesn’t mean that, because it’s not a word at all. I would even categorize it with other fake words like “orientate” and “irregardless”. Please don’t use it.


If you hear any of these business jargon phrases on a regular basis, there are many more examples. If you want to read more of them, click here — and if you’d rather listen to more of them, watch here:

(Full disclosure: this video is technically an ad, but you can just skip the last 15 seconds to avoid the sales pitch.)

What business jargon drives you up the wall?

Motivation Monday — 5 Tips for Getting Things Done

Happy Monday, everyone! Or perhaps not-so-happy Monday… If you’re like me, you had a generally relaxing, lethargic weekend, and you’re not feeling entirely prepared to take on the long week ahead. I spent some time these past few days (mostly while sitting on the couch) thinking about what gets me motivated to succeed and get things done. Here are some of my findings — hopefully we can kickstart Motivation Monday together!

Create a productive atmosphere.

Sometimes, in spite of your plans to spend the day getting things done, your surroundings drag you back into your comfort zone. I find that it’s a lot easier to get to work when I first:

  • Make the room bright by opening the windows or turning on the lights
  • Play some working music
  • Clear away any distracting clutter — but be careful not to get sucked into procrasti-cleaning!

Make a list.

It’s always helpful to have a roadmap when it feels like there’s way too much to do. Making a list with manageable, “bite-sized” tasks allows you to prioritize the things you need to do. It also shows you the light at the end of the tunnel: once these items are checked off, you’re done! I currently use Todoist for my to-do lists at work and at home.

Make it a habit.

It’s hard enough to get things done. It’s even harder when your usual routine is to lay about and not get things done. This is usually compounded by sleeping in on weekends, which is apparently equivalent to giving yourself jet lag every weekend and then expecting it to just magically disappear on Monday. I’ve been making an effort to shift my schedule seven days a week so that I have the energy and habitual foundation for motivation each and every day.

Solidify your motivations.

People make goals for lots of reasons: out of necessity (like work), to improve themselves, to impress others, and lots more. Some motivations are stronger than others. This step is a personal one: find out what’s important to you, and pursue the goals that match that motivation. And more importantly, don’t wallow in guilt when you fail to achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself. It might be a clue that you’re not seeking motivation in the right places. Set goals that truly matter to you.

Just do it!

Sometimes there’s a task that I know will be pretty quick, but rather painful. Rather than hemming and hawing over when to do it, if ever, this is the time when it’s best to just rip off the Band-Aid, so to speak. Just hold your breath, shut off all of your internal complaining, and do it. This approach definitely doesn’t work for everything, and it’s usually only sufficient motivation every so often. But sometimes, as much as you’re going to hate it, you just have to do it.


I have an exhausting week ahead, but I’m hoping to take things one day at a time and find motivation for the tasks on my list!

Side Note: I had to use a couple of these tips today to motivate myself to write a blog post in the first place!

How do you prepare to get things done on Motivation Monday?

Pandemic — A Board Game Review

When you’re looking to add a new board game to your home collection, one of the most important things to ensure is that the game won’t get stale. What’s the point in buying a game that gets boring after the first few play-throughs? Joe and I were on the hunt for something fresh and fun this weekend. We landed on Pandemic, a popular cooperative strategy game released in 2007. So far, we’ve played in three different groups: with my family, with his family, and just the two of us. And we had lots of fun each time!

The goal of Pandemic is to save the world from four deadly diseases. You play as a team of specialists with various randomly-assigned skills. As your turns progress, you and your team travel the world to treat these diseases and research their cures. At the same time, new cities are infected and outbreaks spread. It’s a race against the clock and the forces of nature to save the world.

Pandemic is the first cooperative game I’ve ever played. It took some adjustment, but I really enjoyed being able to work with the other players. Instead of competing via psychology and betrayal, your shared enemy is a series of random card draws. That way, the suspense and excitement were equally high for all players. Plus, you can share everything: the cards in your hands, your plans for next turn, and suggestions for your teammates’ moves.

The cooperative gameplay worked best when all players were engaged in the game. That wasn’t always the case, though. But even when a player was distracted or disinterested, they wouldn’t fall behind like they might in other games. The team still could still direction and use that player’s in-game special skills as things progressed.

My favourite part of Pandemic is the role of randomness in providing a unique game experience every time you play. Your strategy will change based on which cities are infected, when your cities have an epidemic, and what your special role will be for the duration of the game. I’ve noticed that some board games get very repetitive the more you play. That’s not the case with Pandemic, especially because you can also adjust the game’s difficulty at the start of each round.

 Pandemic — A Board Game Review

I do have a couple of warnings for new players. First, the game gets harder and the strategies get more intricate as you add additional players. It’s intended for 2-4 players, but we tried playing with 5, which made it much harder (but not impossible). Extra players essentially lengthen the time it takes to execute your strategies, and there are more opportunities for random events to ruin your plans.

Also, be aware of your team composition. Team strategies in cooperative games like Pandemic tend to gravitate toward the suggestions of players with stronger personalities. Do your best to ensure that every player gets a chance to voice their opinions and make decisions with the group.

In short, Pandemic is a great game for groups to have fun and be competitive – but with common goal. It looks a bit daunting at first glance, but the mechanics are really straightforward once you get the hang of the three-stage turn system. I would recommend Pandemic for groups of all kinds!

What are your favourite cooperative board games?

Smartphone Astrophotography with Novagrade

Hello all — I have returned from Starfest, Canada’s largest annual astronomy/camping conference! We had fabulous weather and clear skies for (almost) the entire week straight. There were lots of opportunities to use telescopes, binoculars, and even our eyes to observe the skies, especially the Perseid meteor shower! While real-time observing has its merits, many Starfest attendees are also heavily involved in astrophotography: taking photos of planets, stars, galaxies, or the night sky in general. This year at Starfest, I tried out smartphone astrophotography for the very first time.

Heading into this week of astronomy, I brought my 10-year-old automated telescope along with me. My only camera is a Nikon point-and-shoot. It’s not suited for long exposures or detailed images, both of which are important for “imaging” astronomical objects. However, I’d recently heard about a new trend in astrophotography that would take advantage of a camera most people already have: their smartphone.

It’s not enough to hold up your smartphone to a telescope eyepiece and snap a picture, though. You have to keep incredibly still, and if your phone moves out of alignment, you’ll see nothing but a black screen. That’s why Joe and I decided to make a purchase through Red Raven Marketing, one of Starfest’s vendors, at this year’s conference:

The Novagrade Phone Adapter for Smartphone Astrophotography

 Smartphone Astrophotography with Novagrade

The phone adapter is a device that latches onto any reasonably-sized smartphone or mini tablet. The side clamps are spring-loaded, and the back of the device has an adjustable hole to accommodate any camera placement. We found that it was easier to have the adapter hold the phone upside down. That way, thee little knob above the phone (see above) would support the phone’s weight instead. The adapter then twists onto a telescope eyepiece or camera using a compression ring.

 Smartphone Astrophotography: Novagrade Compression Ring

For our first foray into smartphone astrophotography, also known as digiscoping, we used 2″ eyepieces and a Samsung Galaxy S6. We used the Pro Mode of the phone’s built-in camera app to take pictures. That allowed up to 10 seconds of exposure, and we could play around with brightness and focus to try and optimize our images. Some turned out really cool, but we struggled with some others. We’re still learning! I’ve just used PicMonkey to apply some filters to these images. (That’s known in the astrophotography world as “post-processing”, apparently.) Take a look!

The Crescent Moon

 Smartphone Astrophotography — The Moon

Saturn

 Smartphone Astrophotography — Saturn

Jupiter, and some of its moons

 Smartphone Astrophotography — Jupiter

The Double Cluster in Perseus

 Smartphone Astrophotography — Double Cluster

(Okay, it basically looks like a bunch of stars…)


Another important aspect of this process was the Twilight app. We were taking photos in the dark and looking at faint objects in a telescope, so we didn’t want to ruin night vision for ourselves or the other campers around us. This program applied a red tint to everything on the phone screen. This way, our eyes didn’t get blown out by bright white light every time we looked at it. The only downside was having to take a break every couple hours to look at all of our images in full light, to make sure they still looked good!

Want to use this technology for yourself? You’ll need a smartphone, an adapter like ours, and something with an eyepiece. That could be a telescope, a birding scope, perhaps binoculars… or maybe even a microscope! And as for me, Joe and I are going to keep experimenting with our Novagrade Phone Adapter!

How do you enjoy the night sky?

Disclaimer: This post is not affiliated or compensated in any way. I just enjoy sharing about cool products!

Starfest 2016 — The Astronomy Camping Experience

Happy Tuesday — it’s a very exciting day! Starting today, my family and I are taking our annual camping vacation to River Place Campground for a much-anticipated event: Starfest!

What’s Starfest?

Starfest is Canada’s largest “Star Party”. That’s an amateur astronomy conference event. By day, Starfest is a camping trip with the added bonus of speakers, workshops, access to astronomy equipment vendors, kids activities, and campground amenities (yes, that includes showers, thank goodness. And there’s a pool!). Some of us also take the opportunity to embark on day trips to nearby small towns for sightseeing and shopping. By night, everyone breaks out their telescopes to observe or take astrophotos.

If you don’t have a telescope, fear not! The night-time entertainment also includes a guided Sky Tour as an intro to astronomy for newcomers. Plus, many campers with large telescopes would be happy to show you what their telescope is viewing — as long as they don’t have a camera plugged into the eyepiece instead! During the day, there is also a chance to do some observing of the Sun using specially-crafted filters to protect your vision.

Believe it or not, I didn’t first hear of this event while studying physics in school. In fact, I’ve been a die-hard attendee since I was three years old. My dad has been an astronomy hobbyist for years, and he began bringing the whole family along in 1996. Here we are, twenty years later!

Who should attend?

  • Anyone with any level of interest in astronomy, telescopes, or space science — and their families and friends!
  • Anyone who has been meaning to book a camping trip all summer, and just hasn’t gotten around to it yet..

The campground is located about two hours north-west of downtown Toronto. That’s fairly close to the GTA compared to a lot of other camping destinations. And you get all of the extra perks of an astronomy conference as well!

What’s special about Starfest this year?

This year is the 35th anniversary of Starfest, and the conference theme is “Big Astronomy”. That means galaxies, black holes, solar storms, and massive telescopes. If you’ve ever been amazed by the sheer scale of our universe, this year is for you!

Does it start today? How do I register in time!?

Don’t worry! I’m just a keener and going up to Starfest early. The official event starts the evening of Thursday, August 4th, and runs until Sunday morning. Feel free to arrive and register at the door anytime before noon on Saturday. You can also set your departure date as any day as well. Keep in mind, though, that the keynote speaker will present on Saturday evening — followed by the highly-anticipated door prize draw for all registrants. Come one, come all: you have to be present to win a prize! I was extremely fortunate to win this beauty as the grand prize back in 2005:

 Starfest 2016 — My Telescope

What if the skies aren’t going to be clear?

Ah, the age-old Starfest question. Everyone devoted to the hobby of astronomy hopes for clear skies every single night. The campsite was chosen specifically because of its dark night skies, compared to the Toronto area. However, if there are some clouds, or even if it rains (or if there’s a tornado or two…), you still get every other perk of attending the event! Why waste an opportunity for a mini-vacation? So in my opinion, if the skies aren’t going to be clear, come anyway! It’s going to be great!


Well, folks, I’m heading off to Starfest — hope to see you there! Clear skies!

No Buy July Wrap-Up

No Buy July is finally over! After a month of trying (moderately) hard not to spend unnecessarily, I’ve reached the end of the challenge. I saved some money by avoiding those purchases, and made a couple of cents in interest by postponing some other purchases. Not only that, but I’d like to think that I learned a couple of things throughout this process.

Postponing a purchase can mean waiting out a fad.

When it comes to my hobbies and interests, I tend to be either all in or all out. (My Hobby Graveyard post outlines a sampling of the hobbies I abandoned last year alone.) But when I get into a hobby, I lose sight of my habit of over-committing, and I start buying things to complement it. There were a couple of times last month where I was tempted to purchase something to facilitate a past-time, but now that it’s August, I’m kind of over it.

The most prominent example of this is Pokémon Go. If it hadn’t been for No Buy July, I would have impulsively bought a new phone that could handle the game better than my current one. Do I need a new phone? Probably. Do I need it right this second? Nope. I can do my research and wait for my current contract to expire in a couple of months. And at this point, I’m a lot less obsessed with the game than I was about a week ago. Temptation conquered.

No Buy July also helped me identify which interests were going to benefit me in the long run. For example, I’m planning on purchasing a yoga mat today. I’ve done my research and selected a couple of options based on my most important criteria — instead of just buying one online, like I would have otherwise.

Free things are great.

As I mentioned in the previous update, I’ve been taking advantage of free entertainment and products over the course of the month. I visited the library, went for hikes with my Halton Parks membership, played video games I’d already purchased, and went on a ton of Pokéwalks. And when I was thinking about buying new clothes for work, I went through my closet and found clothing that I had legitimately forgotten about. My wardrobe isn’t that large to begin with, so that’s pretty sad. Regardless, I saved myself time and money by  using what I already ad

No Buy July failures = family and food.

This challenge was a personal one. While I had some support and accountability from friends and family that knew I was doing it, the main motivator had to be myself. And I noticed that there were two types of situations that caused me to renege on the commitment: family events, and eating out.

I went to two movies with family last month, even though neither of them was Independence Day 2. (That was the only movie-related exception I’d allowed myself). The excuse I made was that family should come before weird, made-up challenges.  Plus, while I would love to save more money, it wasn’t like I was trying to pay off debt or anything, so what was the harm? That will be important to watch out for in the future, if I have a more concrete financial goal. I’ll need to find more fiscally responsible activities to do with my family.

Food was the biggie. I specifically didn’t put much of a limit on my food expenditures during No Buy July, except for dining out. And boy, did I stretch those limits. I’ve learned that my unhealthy relationship with food can’t be managed using external factors, such as limits on spending. That will have to be dealt with head on. I’ll need to come up with a plan for reducing the control my hunger has over my life right now. But that’s a goal for another time!


In short, I’m glad I took on this challenge, but I’m also mighty glad that it’s over!

If you joined me for No Buy July, what did you learn this past month? What financial goals do you have for the rest of the summer?

Garden Update — Civic Holiday Long Weekend

It’s another long weekend with beautiful weather in Oakville. Time to share an update on my thriving garden! We’ve had lots of success in the past month, since the last update.

 Garden Update — Kale and Brussels Sprouts

The veggies are coming along decently — that’s kale, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. We made our first few rounds of kale chips this month, and managed to pick a couple of broccoli florets. Nothing huge, though. Our Brussels sprouts still aren’t “brusselling”, so we’re waiting on that! They are way too close together, as well, so we are taking that learning into next year’s gardening season.

 Garden Update — Sweet One Million Tomatoes

Our Sweet One Million tomatoes are still my favourite part of the garden. We’ve been harvesting fifteen to twenty a week for a while now. It’s been great to not need to buy cherry tomatoes at the grocery store for salads. Now I have them in my own backyard!

 Garden Update — Cherry Hot Peppers

A number of our plants have been plagued by small animals in our neighbourhood. The carrots, onions, peppers (even the Cherry Hots), and strawberries are gone before they ripen, despite our best efforts. We’ll have to come up with an effective pest deterrent strategy in the future if we want to grow any tasty-looking foods. Luckily, tomatoes will ripen off the vine, so we’ve been able to pick those a bit early and let them turn red indoors, away from the hungry animals.

Garden Update — Lemon Cucumber

In case you’re curious about what a lemon cucumber looks like on the inside!

Lemon cucumber has been the talk of the town at work. Everyone wants to know what sort of Frankenstein’s fruit I’ve created! In reality, it’s just an heirloom cucumber. I’m one of those people that eats raw cucumber as a snack, and these are so convenient to wash and eat, just like an apple (but without the core)!

 Garden Update — Harvest

Our zucchinis are going nuts, as usual. This year, though, we’ve learned not to let them grow far too large. Instead, we’re picking them when they’re no longer than a foot, and using them right away in a variety of recipes. I’d definitely recommend these to home gardeners with enough space!

The biggest concern we have for our garden right now is this coming week: we’ll be camping Tuesday through Sunday (more on that later), and our plants will definitely not be getting as much water as they have been! I’ll let you know how everything fares this month over the next long weekend!

What are your recent home gardening successes?

Zucchini Recipes for the Home Garden Harvest

The weather has been sunny and sweltering for weeks now in Southern Ontario, but thanks to our (ahem, Joe’s…) diligent gardening, the zucchini plant in the backyard has been going crazy! Just like last year, we’re starting to get a little creative with how we use up our zucchinis while they’re ripe.

And what better place to seek out culinary inspiration than the blogosphere?

Today I’m sharing some of my favourite zucchini recipes from fellow bloggers that are going to help us make the most of our home garden harvest. Hope you enjoy some of these recipes as well — click the images to find them!

Lasagna Zucchini Boats

This past Friday night, our fridge contained some leftover ravioli and an abundance of zucchini. Rather than cook everything separately, Joe put his thinking cap on and created this masterpiece:

Zucchini boats! Thanks @isopropylbromide 😉 #zucchini #garden #kitchenadventures

A photo posted by Hillary Flinn (@writergirlflinn) on

I’ll let Joe elaborate a bit here:

Joe’s Recipe

Hello, this is Joe and I’ll try to explain what I did.

You’ll need leftover pasta, zucchinis, cheese, oil (I used olive) and seasoning (garlic salt for me).

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F
  2. Hollow out your zucchinis with a spoon or knife. You don’t want to hollow them too much or else they won’t support the filling. Save the zucchini you carve out if it isn’t too seedy.
  3. In a saucepan set to medium heat, put your pasta, the excavated zucchini, and enough oil to coat it lightly. In my case it was about a tablespoon. You may want to add a splash of water as well if your pasta wasn’t very wet. In my case our ravioli had plenty of watery sauce so it was fine.
  4. As the pasta cooks, season it with whatever you have lying about. I recommend including a bit of salt here. Break up the pasta with your mixing implement — it’s not super important, but try to get it to a consistency you like. It may end up looking like mush, but don’t worry! It’ll dry out when we bake it.
  5. Load the hollow zucchinis with your pasta mix. Cover them with as much cheese as you can justify.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove when cheese and pasta are turning a nice golden brown.
  7. Let cool and serve to your girlfriend.

Thanks, Joe!

For a different take on this concept, check out this one from Jaclyn at Cooking Classy:

 Lasagna Zucchini Boats

Zucchini Fritters

I love making these both as a meal and as a snack. They’re cheesy and delicious! I definitely recommend serving with light sour cream. Here’s the recipe from Chungah at Damn Delicious:

 Zucchini Fritters

Zoodles

My love for pasta is legendary, but it’s not always the healthiest obsession. Plus, I’ve always got ripe zucchinis lying around. Why not combine the two? Here’s how to turn zucchini into zoodles, courtesy of Scott at I’d Rather Be a Chef:

 Zucchini Noodles — Zoodles

Note: I use a julienne slicer instead of a spiralizer to make my zoodles, like Elana over at Elana’s Pantry. Either way works, so use what you have!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

So basically, if you combine something healthy, like a certain summer squash, and something unhealthy, like tons of chocolate, it all evens out, right? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Thanks to Jamie at My Baking Addiction for the scrumptious recipe!

Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Um, yes please!

Zucchini Chips

I’m all about kale chips, but unfortunately, my kale isn’t growing as well as my zukes this year. Instead, I found a recipe that essentially swaps out one for the other to create a similar snacking experience. Please note that I haven’t actually made this one yet, but it looks good and I’m excited to try it! Here’s Julie’s recipe on Table for Two:

 Zucchini Chips


Whether you’re growing your own or picking them up at the grocery store, it’s time to break out the zucchini and start cooking!

What are your favourite zucchini recipes?

Pokémon Go Problems

It’s the gaming craze that’s swept the nation, and it’s a very fun and surreal bandwagon to hop on. Pokémon Go has people literally searching their neighbourhoods for Pokémon, with many of them reliving their 90’s childhood in the process.

But Pokémon Go is not without its problems. Its many, many problems. Problems such as…

When your country’s release is over a week after the USA’s.

Canada and Europe freaked out online when America got Pokémon Go before they did. Of course, everyone figured out the workaround, but then panicked, believing the rumour that it would get them banned from the real game once it launched. Plus, there were huge risks of inadvertently downloading malware along with the game if the source was unsafe.

In spite of all that, after six days of watching US social media blow up, I figured I should try it out anyway. And that led me to problem number two.

When the Pokémon Go servers are down.

All the time. Whether you’re logging in or in the middle of gameplay, the servers get overloaded so frequently.

I feel bad for Niantic, to be honest — the level of engagement in this game was totally unprecedented. How could they have known they would need server support for the biggest mobile game ever, especially with its regional launch strategy? Nevertheless, Nintendo probably should have tipped off their developers to the phenomenon they were about to unleash.

When your phone isn’t supported.

Canada finally got its release on July 17th, less than a week ago. I opened Google Play and searched for Pokémon Go, and… it wasn’t there.

Oh, come on!!

Turns out my Samsung Galaxy S3 is so ancient now that it won’t support the game. Boo. And because of everyone’s favourite No Buy July challenge, I can’t get a new phone until August!

Luckily, Joe’s got an S6 and he wasn’t super intent on playing alone, so we made an account with my Gmail and decided to share the Pokémon-catching responsibilities.

 Pokémon Go

When you catch (or hatch) yet another Pidgey.

It didn’t take long to learn that Pidgeys are everywhere. Of course, we started evolving and powering up one of our Pidgeys with the “Pidgey Candy” earned from the others. But how are we supposed to catch ’em all when all we can find are Pidgeys? (And yes, someone has [essentially] caught them all. Something tells me he’s a little more dedicated than we are.)

When you hurt yourself because you’re staring at your phone.

There have been some really horrible injuries and situations caused by Pokémon Go. Luckily, I’ve managed to avoid any danger, and I want to encourage people to be safe, look up, and be aware.

Psst: The battery saver mode of Pokémon Go can help you stay alert while you play! It dims your screen when you lower your phone, but keeps the app on so it will still buzz to notify you of nearby Pokémon. Though you should use these tips to avoid any glitches while using the mode.

When the game glitches.

Here are some of the glitches I’ve experienced so far:

  • The images of Pokémon disappearing in combat so I can’t hit them with Pokéballs
  • Pokéballs freezing on screen without letting you exit combat
  • The GPS going crazy, thinking I’m running around a huge area when I’m sitting still and tilting my phone
  • Screen freeze

And on it goes. I’m hoping Niantic can work out the kinks before the fad dies down!

When you use up all of your data.

Pokémon Go is a data-heavy game. And last night, Joe and I hit 95% of his monthly data, which won’t reset until the end of the month. Thanks to No Buy July, we will not be purchasing any additional data to facilitate our Pokémon obsession. Looks like we’ll have to take a break from Pokéwalks for a while.

When you smile and wave at someone else playing Pokémon Go on the street (as everyone tends to do) — except they’re just using their phone like a normal person and now you look nuts.

Awkward.


In spite of its problems, Pokémon Go is probably one of the most hilarious pop culture events I’ve seen. I love that it’s bringing people together, getting them outdoors, and taking complete advantage of that nostalgia factor. I can’t wait to see how far this thing goes.

Have you run into these Pokémon Go problems while trying to catch ’em all?

The Bachelorette — The 2010 Video Game for Wii

As we all know (apparently), tonight on The Bachelorette, JoJo Fletcher is down to her final four suitors, and it’s time for hometown dates!

Let me say this right now: I am not a fan of this show. In fact, the hour of last week’s episode that I happened to watch was only my second experience with the entire franchise. I cringed my way through the forced conversations, and killed myself laughing when JoJo and Jordan crushed grapes at a vineyard with their sweaty, hairy feet and then drank it. Because they honestly thought it was wine. I was dying.

The Bachelorette — JoJo & Jordan Vineyard Date

They’re perfect for each other. (Eww.)

So to amplify the excitement of tonight’s episode, and to fill my entertainment void due to No Buy July, I bring you:

The Bachelorette — A Real, Actual, Honest-to-God Licensed Video Game for Wii

 The Bachelorette Video Game — Cover

Joe and I saw this video game at the library yesterday and just had to see what it was all about.

Our assumption, based on the subject matter and the back cover description, was that this game would be a dating simulator, where you win over the Bachelorette and sabotage your opponents (somehow). And for a while, nothing seemed to be amiss.

First, you choose your character. If you choose a guy, you’ll be competing in The Bachelorette, and vice versa. We chose this dude, a photographer, and named him Chad. Your other career options include Med Student, Account Executive, Movie Producer, and Designer.

 The Bachelorette — Character Select

Then the games begin — way more literally than we expected.

The first group date was a hot air balloon ride. So, naturally, the balloons need to be inflated. And who better to inflate balloons than the Bachelorette contestants, by pressing the A button repeatedly? If you fill your balloon the fastest, you’re rewarded with “heart points” from The Bachelorette herself!

  The Bachelorette — Balloon Mini-Game (1)

At this point, we’re a little confused. Are we playing The Bachelorette or Mario Party? Perhaps it’s just a qualifying round, so we can get to the real date…

No such luck.

The entire purpose of the game turns out to be earning these heart points, and the winner gets the girl. We are treated to a racing game, a tracing game, a puzzle game, a memory game, a weight deduction game, a catching game, and Joe’s personal nemesis, a picture-guessing game. Sometimes these games get re-skinned to match the theme of the date — notice, for example, how the game in the center below looks suspiciously like the hot air balloon challenge.

 The Bachelorette — Mini-Games

If you succeed at earning the most heart points during the group “dates”, you are invited to a one-on-one date, which includes (you guessed it!) another mini-game. However, there’s a cutscene component to the one-on-one dates as well! If you win your mini-game, the romantic scene can go well:

  The Bachelorette — Massage

And if not, things get a little uncomfortable. Both for the characters and for the player.

  The Bachelorette — Awkward

Then it all comes down to the rose ceremony, which tends to be quite dramatic on the TV show. The video game version, though, has no surprises at all. The contestant with the fewest heart points goes home.

The Bachelorette — Elimination

I suppose this is the entire premise of the show, but it seems a little strange when it’s phrased like this, don’t you think?

One of the strangest things about this game occurred at the end of the first “season”. We managed to win all of the mini-games (all fifteen of them…) and win the heart of DeAnna Pappas (yes, they used the real Bachelorettes). After the proposal cut-scene, we arrive back at the main menu to find that we’ve unlocked the second season with Trista Rehn. And we’re still playing as Chad the photographer! So basically, the object of the game is to successfully propose to the women in each of the five seasons?! I don’t know if the developers really thought that one through.

That’s the main storyline of the game, but there’s also an unlockable series of personality quizzes. They’re used to determine which Bachelors/Bachelorettes are most compatible with you, and you can also evaluate your compatibility with friends that take the quizzes. The topics include Dating, Marriage, Leisure, and Sex. And the slant on these quizzes was extremely confusing.

The Bachelorette — Relationship Quiz

Did the same person that wrote this quiz…

The Bachelorette — Sex & Pleasure Quiz

…write this quiz?

I know this game is rated Teen, but like, who is their target audience, exactly?

But the quizzes can’t be all bad…

The Bachelorette — Soulmates

D’aww. (I have mixed feelings about trusting this game though.)

Just like the love of most of the winning Bachelor/Bachelorette couples over the years, this game will live on the hearts of absolutely no one. I give this totally incongruent, dated (pun intended), so-bad-it’s-hilarious game one and a half roses out of five.

 The Bachelorette — Rating

If you feel the urge to play this game… you should probably just play Mario Party and then watch The Bachelorette tonight instead.