Friday, April 12, 2013

Stealing Beauty

Recently I received a catalog in the mail from a company that sold products to the elderly. I was of course offended that I could be on such a list to receive this but as I've said before, catalogs are my crack and I had to at least look at it.

Now you'd expect walkers or hospital beds, perhaps diabetes aids. But no, this company created a niche market selling products that cater to all of the vanity worries that we older women have. Wrinkles in your earlobe? Just tape them back with some miracle tape! Droopy eyelids? A little dab of glue in the crease will fix that right up! There were corsets and Spanx, hair dyes and false toenails. You could go from Camilla Parker Bowles to Kim Kardashian overnight. As long as you were willing to put in the time and pray that the glue holds.

I'm not sure how I feel about this quite yet. It's somewhere between crazy and genius.

A friend of mine is a police officer and she recently sent me a hilarious phone log from a woman suspected in multiple robberies. Among this woman's list of contacts were people with names like "KMoney" and "Snake". Then as you scroll down, there was one glaring exception. The 800 number for "Lifestyle Lift", the one hour, no down-time face lift.  It made me wish I was going to be on that jury. Her defense: aged out of the job market? Left for a younger woman at 60? Your honor, what else could I do? Tape my earlobe wrinkles?

The lesson here? Try gluing your face up to it's original position before robbing a bank.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Keepin' it Real

I have to admit, when the new company took over the running of Winster, there was a lot of skepticism about whether they would be able to pull off servicing such a different demographic than the hardcore gamers they were used to. We met in the big conference room to listen to everyone's two cents about how we needed to overhaul the site completely if we were going to get any traction.

In the end, we decided against it. We would relaunch as quickly as we could and then make changes as we went along. Knowing that our customers would quickly move on to the latest and greatest bells and whistles if we didn't do this asap. 

How wrong we were. Our customers – our friends, don't seem to care much abut the name or the color of the pages. They come to play and make friends. To take a break from the office or connect with old friends before going to bed.

My husband and I, both being in the "tech" industry, try to make sure we're aware of what the kids are doing just so we feel tuned in to popular culture. We Twitter and Google and Facebook and even once forced ourselves to listen to nothing but rap music for a month (more on that later). Young people are a good barometer, but sometimes the biggest eye openers are the shifts that take place among the older crowd. We use technology for sure, not as a replacement for real relationships, but as a way to make sure we don't forget birthdays and to say thank you and hello. And to meet a few friends on a Saturday night for a little Slot Social.

So on this Easter weekend (this is the part where I try to wrap up all my thoughts into a neat little timely bundle), when everything seems to be about newness and rebirth, I for one am celebrating the fact that some things DON"T change. And that's okay.

XO Happy Easter!

Monday, March 25, 2013

With the Mostest

Good Monday Winsters!
Last Spring I went to visit my niece and nephew at their elementary school. I thought I'd surprise them by bringing McDonalds to the cafeteria at lunch time when I got into town. My niece was super excited and introduced me to all her 4th grade girlfriends. My 6th grade nephew on the other hand was way too busy to have anything to do with me. He was the lunchroom monitor and took his job VERY seriously.

Geek you say? Outcast? Oh no. My nephew is actually one of the popular kids. And apparently, in this school, it only helps your popularity to don a safety vest and make sure other kids return their trays in an orderly fashion.

At Winster, we're on board with that. Our in-game lunchroom monitors, we call them "Hosts",  are carefully selected individuals who meet a specific criteria while showing a track record of participation and good sportsmanship.

Winster hosts do not wear orange safety vests but will display the letter "H" as a badge. You'll find them randomly placed in rooms, so ask them for help if you need it. And of course just say no if you don't.

If you'd like to become a host, see the requirements link from your "My Stuff" page. It's never too late to be one of the cool kids :)


Friday, March 15, 2013


Top O' The Mornin' to you Winsters!

Getting ready for another Saint Paddy's Day at our house. The day where I slow cook a corned beef until it becomes an unrecognizable gray color and then blandly boil up some tasteless, watery cabbage and soft potatoes to go with it. Yum!

It sounds awful, I know, and really it kind of is. If it weren't for the horseradish and sour cream that we slather on everything, it probably wouldn't be worth doing. But my mother forced it on me, and when I was a single gal in college I forced it on myself. And now that I have a family, the tradition must endure. 

That's the thing about traditions, they don't always have to be positive experiences. Sometimes you just have to mark a day in a way that makes you remember it. Or drink enough green beer to forget altogether :)

For those of you that won't be following in the tradition, we have a virtual plate of corned beef and cabbage to give as a gift to your friends. And it looks a heck of a lot better than my cooking!

Erin Go Bragh!
Winnie O'Winster

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Trading Post

This week at Winster we've been tackling the issue of trading pieces in our games. Since we pride ourselves on being a collaborative site where helping each other out is our differentiator, we never spent much time on this issue. We just assumed everyone liked to trade.

Our crack research tells us that trading falls into a few categories:
1. Player unselfishly gives up a piece they may need to someone else who needs it more.
2. Player makes an even trade and both players get what they want.
3. One player decides what another players hand will look like and forces them to take pieces.
3. Player harasses another player into trading for something they need.

Although most players fall into categories one and two, which is what we intended when making it collaborative, you'd be surprised at how many times I am traded random things.  I blindly accept, thinking someone sees a pattern in my hand before I do and then realize no, this player is trying to PLAY my hand or TAKE my pieces.

And then of course, there are the really bad apples. The wild card and Winnie thieves who complain when you don't willingly hand them a big win. And in some cases, they get nasty. We put them in the category of "well, it's the internet and there are a lot of crazies out there".

That said, I have been in rooms where someone will announce "Nancy hasn't had a jackpot yet, let's help her get one!" and then everyone gives her wild cards or Winnies until she wins. I like those people. A lot.

So the lesson in today's rambling is one your mother taught you many times, just say NO. If something seems suspicious, trading is an option but not a requirement. Like tipping or wearing shoes.

Have a great weekend Winsters!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Youth is wasted...

TGIF Winster Friends!

I have a new internet addiction and it's name is Pinterest. For those of you that don't use it, my explaining it to you would not cause anyone to go out and get the app, but here goes. Pinterest is a site where young women, in their early twenties as far as I can tell, post photographs of things they want in life. Over and over you'll see couture wedding gowns, fancy homes, skinny women with six-pack abs and luxury goods. All with captions like "I will have this" or "I have to remember this for my wedding" or "I want my house to look like this".  That's it. Occasionally there are some recipes for easy meals or a motivational quote, but mainly it's a glimpse in to a weird fantasy world where everyone is a future wealthy super model.

Perhaps my addiction is a tiny bit based on the dreams of a giant conservatory in my backyard that are still left in me, but mainly I just like to see what the young people are thinking. And folks, it's the same as it's always been. White horse, prince charming, 2.5 kids and a white picket fence (around a house with 6 bedrooms and 4500 square feet).

I was looking at a diagram the other day called the happiness curve. It shows that from the time you are born until your mid 30's, your happiness is in free fall. After 35, the curve goes back up and in your seventies you are as happy as a child. They attribute that to acceptance. Accepting that you'll never have six-pack abs and a 3500 square foot house actually makes you happy. And just knowing that I was on the upside of the curve made me happy!

So, more power to the young people but I'll take my muffin top and Vegas elopement and like it. Because that's just the kind of people we are. Am I right, ladies?


Friday, February 15, 2013

Freaky Friday

Hey Winsters,

I am looking out the office window at a clear, sunny February day. If I hadn't turned on the news this morning today would be like any other day. Only better, because it's the Friday before a three day weekend. But no. The asteroid is coming, and now that I know that, I can feel it. My whole day is off somehow and my anxiety is even too high to enjoy Pizza Friday at work.

Once I read that women and their cycles and moods were controlled by the moon, no space fact is off limits. All meteorological events effect me and can arbitrarily make me feel physically or emotionally ill. This only happened in my late 30's by the way. Before that I was gleefully unaware that such things existed and chalked everything up to actual life events.

Luckily, I have a cohort in this. My sister and I talk every day and are on google, looking for space events that will justify our feelings whenever we get the least bit irritable. Today, with 143,000 tons of molten rock hurling toward us, we've both gone silent. Bracing ourselves for some kind of inevitable mental explosion that will happen as this monster passes by. It's a bit terrifying, and exciting all at the same time.

I'll let you know how I fare. Stay safe and wear a tin foil hat or something :)

Winnie Weirdo

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Heart You

Before I understood the new normal that exists in schools (at least in California schools), I once sent cupcakes to my daughter's class on her birthday. Saying I may as well have handed the teacher a live grenade is not an understatement. After I pushed them on her, I found out later that they were given to the parents at the end of the day so they could dispose of them at will. I relayed this story to my family back east and they all agreed that "she should be taken out of that hippie school immediately!"

Years later, I'm still trying. Spending my nights researching acceptable ways to make a child feel special without alienating or offending anyone. Last night, I was on a mission to figure out Valentine's Day treats. In this particular school, they don't allow cards or gifts to be given so I thought a "snack" for the class would be acceptable. I settled on a treat bag full of pink yogurt pretzels and dried strawberries. Score one for the "hippies".

Rest assured, when my daughter gets home, she will open the door to a two-pound, heart shaped box of chocolate and a weird stuffed animal with a heart in it's paws. I will not go down without a fight.

And to the rest of you in my life, I hope you all feel special this Valentine's Day as well. I recommend a personal box of chocolates (purchased on the 15th for half off) so that you can have a bite out of each one :)

Make sure to also send our free e-cards and gifts to your Winster friends.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Groundhog Day

Okay, campers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today!

For those of you that don't get that reference, it's from one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day. And with Groundhog Day just around the corner, we thought it appropriate at Winster to celebrate the mundane, do-it-every-day tasks that we take for granted. Just this morning I was walking my daughter to school. Every day, the same routine. She walks up on this wall that fences in someones yard and I hold her hand and walk below. The we go to the next wall and so on until we get to the corner (where we jump the puddle and cross the street, walk past 5 trees and then piggyback ride the rest of the way...she's slightly OCD :). It's frustrating at times, usually because we're late, but this morning I made a conscious "Groundhog Day" decision to enjoy the little things. I know that the mundane, have to get through it tasks are the ones I will miss the most when she grows up.

Yesterday I received a nice Facebook post from a player commenting on how many great friends she's met through Winster. It came after a particularly bad day of getting beat up with software glitches and Customer service issues. Not complaining about those, it's our job to fix them, but there's something about the software business that sometimes feels like you're holding up a house of cards. One thing fixes, another breaks. Customers unhappy, bosses unhappy. So getting that Facebook post and having it seconded by a few others really brought me back "in the moment" and made me feel great about what we do.

So thank you Winsters. And happy real Groundhog Day, (the one where you find out how much longer you're going to be freezing out there).


Friday, January 25, 2013

No Doily's Here

This week I'd like to give you a little glimpse into the office where I work. As many of you know, a larger company took over the running of Winster. Their main business are what they call "massive multi-player online games". It spells MMOG is all I know. What that means is that your avatar runs around doing some form of combat and you play online with a world-wide audience. As far as I can tell from the posters in the lobby there is a medieval themed one, an urban warfare one and a couple other variants on post apocalyptic hell scapes.  I know this only from the decorations.  Life-size posters depicting WWF style men with Rambo gear and women in head-to-toe leather. One looks suspiciously like Halle Barry.

It's an odd fit for sure, but somehow it works. Our little corner of friendship and cooperation gaming is slowly softening the man warriors in the office and making the place a little more, shall we say "estrogen-driven".  I have yet to redecorate but am planning on passing out some sweet Valentine cookies next month.  I'll let you know how it goes :)


Friday, January 18, 2013


Good Morning Winster Friends,
I'm thinking that basic civility seems to be at an all time low. Standing in line at Starbucks this morning, a simple thing we all learned in grade school, a young woman came in and got in line behind me. As the line got shorter, she started inching up and eventually was standing next to me. As the Starbucks worker called "next" she went right ahead of me and ordered!
And don't get me started on drivers. Honking at you because they perceive you to be going too slow, only to speed by, give you the glare and mouth choice words in your direction, and then have to stop at the same light next to you up the road.
Whenever I felt I was getting the short end of the stick as a kid, my mother used to say "you'll get your reward in heaven".  Not very comforting for a six year old, but wiser than I gave her credit for. And I don't think you have to wait that long. Watching the madman sit at the light trying to maintain his anger or standing to get your coffee with the girl who cut in front of you is reward enough. They generally feel stupid and that's pretty rewarding.
So it's nice to be working with people like you who would rather work collaboratively than competitively and are appreciative for the things our little Winster team can give them. I don't think we'll ever make a million dollars for running this site but we'll "get our reward in heaven" :)


Friday, January 11, 2013

Thoughts on Flannel Pajamas

Hi Winster Friends!
I was just watching Al Roker present the latest storm sweeping the country. Two feet of snow from Nevada to Minnesota today. We are officially sandwiched in between the hope of a White Christmas and the seemingly endless wait for Spring.

Being from the east, and having just visited my family over Christmas, I know how your mindset changes from one of wonder at every beautiful flake pre-December 25th to one of disdain all the way through April. The gray days bleed into black nights and you cocoon inside, in my case never taking off my flannel pj's. Which count as clothes now? I guess you just throw on a pair of boots and pretend they're pants. I see all the kids doing it :)

I think living in California, we're programmed to do things. The great weather forces us in to work and school every day, pushes us to exercise, run errands, make plans. There's something to be said for a season that allows you to rest and sit with your thoughts. Or in our case, sit at our computers and play with our friends. Nice segue, huh?

In the spirit of cocooning in our pj's, Winster is throwing a little pre-mid-winter Happy Hour tomorrow, Saturday January 12th from 3-4pm PST (6-7pm EST for those of you who are actually freezing). Free Spins and no ads! It's a make-up for those of you who were locked out during the last hour of our New Year's event.

See you there in your best flannels/pants :)