From 1(0) Grain(s) of Rice

What do other people do when hit with writer’s block? Sort out their closet, clean the bathroom, work on that knitting project? Because knitting needles, as opposed to, say, crochet needles, are like ninja weapons cleverly disguised as old-lady craft items that make you feel like a badass while creating a blankie for your nephew? Hypothetically. Myself, I have a cure-all that lets me procrastinate on writing and accomplishing other tasks around the apartment… while feeding my brain.

Damn you screencap, why must your text be so tiny and blurry when reduced to a normal picture size? AKA what looks like on my laptop. is my favorite place to go when I’m stuck or bored. (Or, in my recent case, stuck at home sick.) It’s too easy to be called a game, but that’s what it feels like when playing it. I remember its original incarnation – a simple website that let you virtually flip through vocabulary flash cards, and for each word you got right ten grains of rice were donated to areas of the world in need of food. There are no penalties for getting an answer wrong, you just keep going for as long as you feel like clicking, watching the image on the website fill up with more and more rice. A lot of fun and easy to do, it was like a higher education version of spider solitaire or Bejeweled.

And the site has upgraded, so in addition to English vocabulary you can learn about human anatomy, chemistry, geography, and yes, literature! There’s also an option for non-native English speakers to use the site in languages like French or Spanish (flashcards for a foreign language are another category you can choose to earn rice in). Players can also choose the level of hardness – too easy? Go up to level 60 and tell me what on earth acatalectic means.

It means ‘complete.’

So go on, there’s no excuse now. There are starving orphans in Africa who don’t care about your dinner leftovers, only that you play a really addictive online game.


I really hope northern Virginia elementary schools aren’t the only ones familiar with the educational mash-up masterpiece that is Demi’s book. A math and an English lesson all in one!


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