Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid |

Todd Hartley: I’m With Stupid

Todd Hartley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

I had a birthday a couple of weeks back, and my main present, an iPad, just showed up a few days ago. Thank God it finally got here because I desperately needed a more efficient way to waste time.

You see, prior to receiving the iPad, to truly slack off I had to fire up my computer, launch a Web browser, do a search for something pointless that I wasn’t really interested in to begin with and then sift through all the results the search turned up. It was a staggeringly inefficient process. I shudder to think of how much time I was wasting trying to waste time.

Now, thankfully, I can download apps that allow me to start wasting time immediately without having to endure all those tedious intermediary steps. All I have to do is flip open the cover, and with one tap on the iPad’s touchscreen, I can be playing “Words With Friends” with someone named freeman69, who I’m pretty sure is either a 14-year-old kid from the wilds of Idaho or else Morgan Freeman. I’m leaning toward the former, as every word freeman69 makes seems to have something to do with guns or the female anatomy.

It’s astonishing how quickly the iPad can change the whole dynamic of your time-wasting, isn’t it? Mine hadn’t been turned on for more than five seconds before there were about a dozen people – three of whom I’m actually acquainted with – challenging me to games of “Scramble With Friends.” How did they even know I was out there? I’m not sure, but that’s the magic of the iPad: Even if you intend to use it for legitimate business purposes, it will force you to waste time.

Of course, being the hypercompetitive wordsmith that I am, I couldn’t realistically deny all those challenges, so in the past four days I’ve played approximately 12,000 games of “Scramble With Friends.” I feel like I’m getting better at it with each round, but I still have yet to get within 500 points of my little sister. This doesn’t concern me too much, though, as my sister is the world’s foremost “Scramble With Friends” savant.

Oh, that’s another great thing about the iPad: Once you get one, you may discover time-wasting talents you didn’t even know you had. My sister’s not a great example, as she played Boggle (the original “Scramble With Friends”) professionally in Europe for a few years. But who would have ever guessed that my 5-year-old son is so much better at “Puzzle Planet” than I am?

Personally, I was hoping to discover that I had some incredible talent for playing “Angry Birds,” but after roughly a hundred hours of limited success, I’m forced to admit such is not the case. If I could just get past Level 1, though, I really think I could get on a roll and finally earn the right to wear all the “Angry Birds” apparel I’ve collected over the past three years.

The problem with the aforementioned games, however, is that they’re not complete wastes of time. Word and puzzle games exercise your brain, and active games give your index finger a pretty good workout. Fortunately, to combat this transparent attempt to undermine the quality of my wastefulness, I’ve discovered a handful of apps that serve no beneficial purpose whatsoever.

I’m currently involved in a spirited game of “Draw Something” with my mother, although to be honest, it’s hard to call it a game as there is no competitive aspect to it. It’s basically just a way for grownups to play with virtual crayons. I draw something, and my mom tries to guess what it is, and then she draws something, and I guess what it is. The best part is there’s no end to it; you just go back and forth drawing things forever.

I’m also presiding over a number of fantasy realms in other apps. These also serve no purpose, plus they have the added benefit of making you sit there like an idiot waiting for more gold coins to appear so you can build fantasy buildings that only increase the depths of the pointlessness of the whole endeavor.

Soon, if all goes as planned, I’ll amass so many coins and buildings that I’ll be king of my useless fantasy realms, which will create even more demands on me to waste time. It won’t be easy to squeeze more time wasting into my already busy schedule, but I’m confident I’ll figure out a way.

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