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Internet Time-Wasters

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Internet Time-Wasters

for when time is hanging heavy on your hands

February is often considered the longest part of winter. The snow has been around for so long that green grass and hot sunshine seem less an actual memory, and more like a concept we’ve heard of but never seen; perhaps it was in a book we read, or a movie we saw.

Of course, we’ve read all our books by now, worked our way through even the ‘B’ movie selection at the video store, and navigating this winter’s two perennial choices—rock hard, slick-as-glass ice or slush to your knees—can make going outdoors, particularly in the evenings, a less than enjoyable exercise.

What’s a person to do?

Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the Internet, and its amazing ability to introduce a person to completely unnecessary activities with not the slightest redeeming quality in sight.

To help those looking for an enthralling and wasteful way to pass an evening, I asked my friends on Facebook to share their favorite time-wasters on the Internet. The only criteria was that the time spent could offer nothing of value: so no word games, for example, that might at least help increase a person’s vocabulary.

Ernie Hawks, he of the oh-so-comtemplative columns on nature and spirit right here in these pages, was my first go-to person for Internet time-wasters, as he is a master at finding them. It is with dread that I see his name pop into my email inbox, as most often he is sending me a link, introducing me to his newest find and I, procrastinator that I am, cannot resist clicking that link and therefore often find myself bleary-eyed in front of the computer at midnight, the fire out, no food ever eaten, and grumbling to myself, “Damn you, Ernie!”

My first hint of his ability came with the link to the “Four Horses of the A’ capella-lypse.” (Okay, I made that up.) You can find it right here (http://tinyurl.com/2d8m) and it’s a fairly simple flash page featuring four horses. Click on each one to hear the music they can make and click again to turn it off. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself creating all sorts of musical compositions and, some time after that, will question your own sanity as you realize how much time you’ve spent doing so.

Ernie was also the source of “Trap the Cat.” (If you want to find it yourself, you should actually Google “circle the cat” but I like my name better. Or you can just go here: http://tinyurl.com/c7euvh). The strategy appears fairly simple until you try the game again and realize that darn cat is a whole lot sneakier than you realized. 

Like mini-golf? Then Adverputt is a game you simply must try. I’ll give you these player instructions: hover your mouse over the ball until you get an arrow; moving the mouse determines the angle at which you hit the ball. Then slide your mouse back from the arrow to lengthen it... the length determines the power of your stroke. Then click the mouse to hit the ball. You can thank me for that because it took me forever to figure out how to do it, resulting in some terrible final scores for a while. Check it out here: Adverputt.com

For Boots Reynolds (of course, it’s research for Boots) PeopleofWalMart.com is a fave. Only visit this site if you enjoy laughing at how other people look (and if you think you’re above that, then you’ve never visited this site). I will confess: one of my fears is that, when my 15 minutes of fame finally arrives, it will be on this website.

I hate to mention this next website but my David doesn’t actually read the River Journal... so I should be safe if you don’t tell him about it. The site is ThereIfixedit.com, and is full of what the site calls “white trash repair jobs.”

My David is the King of white trash repair jobs and he doesn’t need any encouragement. Unfortunately for me, his repair jobs work. Two years ago he fixed a leak in my lawnmower tire by plugging it with a piece of bark and it’s still going strong today! (Well, not today ‘cause there’s still a foot of snow in my yard, but come lawn-mowing time, I bet the tire is still not flat.)

I, on the other hand, take after my father and believe that if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. Which means there are many broken things in my house still waiting to be fixed.

Ben Curto (of Sandpoint’s Connect Technologies) sent this entry along with an entire list of Internet time wasters. He has a system, he says, and checks out what’s new every morning before he starts work. 

Cindy Hval (yes, that Cindy Hval, the writer for the Spokesman Review) is a fan, as I am, of Overheard in the Newsroom (OverheardintheNewsroom.com). Submitted by people who work in various forms of media, it includes such quips as Reporter: “What does it say about journalism when my best work today was a tweet?”

By the way, if you read through the entries on this site you might come away with the impression that everyone involved in journalism is an alcoholic. I’m not saying they’re not, I’m just pointing out that is the impression you’ll leave with.

Speaking of writing and writers... there’s all kinds of information out there on how to get your book published. The next website, another favorite of mine, can offer some guidance on how not to get your book published. Maintained by a literary agent, it’s called Slush Pile Hell (SlushPileHell.tumblr.com) An example? Query: Today is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a promising young author’s career. Today is your chance to be the one who lights the wick on the bottle rocket that will carry my name into the upper echelon and today is your chance to grab a ticket on that ride. Response: No, after reading this, I think that today is the day to take my drinking to a whole new level.

Yep, there’s that drinking again. 

Then there’s the Awkward Family Photos (AwkwardFamilyPhotos.com) which contains, you guessed it, user submitted ‘awkward’ family photos. There’s quite a few that will give you a laugh but here’s the truly odd thing—there are plans to turn it into a television show.

Shades of Shit My Dad Says. I thought that show (which does an awesome job of totally ruining what was a hilarious set of tweets) pointed out the absolute depths that television had sunk to but no, apparently it can go even lower.

Okay, the rest of this list is not for the easily offended.

Liz Arakelian pointed out the “F” my life website (fmylife.com) where regular people submit posts about the terrible/sad/awful (and, let’s face it, funny to read) things that happened during their day. Here’s one of my favorites that’s rated G: “Today, I let my dogs out, and then realized they didn’t have their electric fence collars on. I ran inside to get the collars, then dashed out to put them on my dogs. I ran through the electric fence. The collars were on. FML.”

Yep. I could see myself doing that.

The next time-wasting champion is a warning for all you Verizon Wireless customers out there who have been champing at the bit, waiting for the iPhone. The site is DamnYouAutoCorrect.com, and features screen shots of the phone’s most amazing attempts to auto correct what you’ve typed in. (Other auto correct ‘fails’ are also featured, but the iPhone’s dictionary is simply hilarious.)

My favorite of these was a text message between a father and daughter. The father texted, “by the way, your mother and I are going to divorce this week.”

After the daughter’s heart attack via text he checked his phone and sent. “DISNEY. I typed DISNEY!,” followed by the now ubiquitous “Damn you Auto Correct!”

My niece Katrina and my daughter Misty both pointed me to the website Texts from Last Night (TextsFromLastNight.com). Most of these seem to revolve around sex, drinking or sex and drinking but I did enjoy this one: “You wouldn’t know anything about the tooth on ice in my freezer, would you?”

The ultimate Time-Waster Award must go, however, to Ana Huston. Maybe not-so-surprisingly, she is Ernie’s stepdaughter, and she was the first to point out to me the hilarious Failbook (Failbook.com).

This site features screen shots of conversations on Facebook. Some will have you rolling in the aisles while others will scare the crap out of you that people this dumb actually live in the world.

Not many are PG-rated, but here’s a recent one that cracked me up.

Comment: “Lets eat grandpa. Let’s eat, grandpa. Moral of the story—comma’s save lives!

Response: But apostrophes make you look like an idiot.

By the way, let me give an honorable mention here to my friend Liz Vogel, who obviously has no idea of how to waste time to completely no purpose. Her unredeemable time-waster suggestions included Knoword (knoword.org), a game to increase your vocabulary, and Jetpunk (jetpunk.com), a collection of trivia quizzes. But don’t worry, we’re working on her. Soon, she’ll be wasting time like a pro!

Now, I have some work to catch up on.


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Author info

Landon Otis

Tagged as:

internet, technology, Ernie Hawks, Misty Grage, David Broughton, Ana Huston, Circle the Cat, Adverputt, People of WalMart, There I Fixed It, Ben Curto, Boots Reynolds, Cindy Hval, Overheard in the Newsroom, Slush Pile Hell, Awkward Family Photos, F My Life, Damn You Auto Correct, Texts From Last Night, Katrina Perry

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