Putt-Putt Forever!

THE first time I saw the Arcade in Webkinz World, I had only one thought: Miniature golf course!

I have been a mini-golf aficionado since I was "knee-high to a grasshopper." When I was very small there was a miniature golf course down Gansett Avenue, between the baseball field and the Burger Chef. Sometimes on sultry summer nights we would walk there to get a Del's lemonade (there was a pocket-sized frozen lemonade stand across the street) and watch the golfers as well as the flocks of moths dashing around the big floodlights. We never played often; with only Dad working we didn't have a lot of money.

Sometimes we played mini-golf at Rocky Point Amusement Park, but again it was a rare thing. But by the time I went to work and could earn money to play mini-golf there were no more courses in Rhode Island.

In 1968, after my mom went to work part time, we finally had the money to take a vacation that didn't involve staying a week at a relative's house in Massachusetts. We went to a place one of Dad's co-workers suggested, Lake George in the Adirondak Mountains of upstate New York. It is still one of my favorite places in the world. And it had four miniature golf courses to boot! I don't recall that we ever played the big course up on the hill at the exit off I-87, but we did play the two near the lake (Around the World in 18 Holes and Around the U.S. in 18 Holes) and the small one inside the games arcade. These were mostly the old-fashioned kind of mini-golf courses, with the little barn with the door that opened and closed, putting a ball in an animal's mouth, etc. For a few years there was a tiny "designed by professional golf players" course on one corner; the lot was so small that several of the holes were on an upper level. When you putted the balls they rolled through tubes to the lower level, which made the course much more fun!

It got to the point where we'd discuss where to go for vacation and I'd suggest Lake George. Mom would give me "that look." "You just want to go so you can play miniature golf." Well, yeah... :-)

The later type of courses such as we experienced in Lake George have survived here in Atlanta as Pirates' Cove and Rainforest and Mountasia and we play them when we can (mostly when we have a coupon).

So you can see why I was delighted to find Webkinz Golf. I pretty much play one game every day. My bete noïre was hole 17 until I accidentally landed in the sand trap and realized that was the trick to getting the hole in par.

Weekly Report

AS I said, I've never been much for videogames. I think the most I've played was back when I was taking care of my mom through her last illness. I had the laptop and would play Jumpman or Pac-Man for a little while each night.

But after a week I can say I like having Webkinz for an hour or two to knock back and relax after a day at work, which is rapidly driving me mad. There are little daily tasks and a good combination of games that test different skills. Although it's primarily designed for kids I don't feel as if its simplistic, just family friendly. The word challenge game gives your mind a good workout, too, and there are trivia questions for adults.


EVERY time a Webkinz bathes...

...an angel gets its wings?

Well, no, but it ups its health points.

For sheer silliness, give your Webkinz a bath. Float the rubber ducky in the water, scrub the shampoo on its head, and add lots and lots of bubble bath. Both you and the Webkinz will giggle.


I wish Willow was this happy when we got done bathing her!


Earning More Kinzcash

HOURLY events happen...well, [duh] every hour (or sometimes every two or three).

Some hourly events are promos on certain games in the arcade. You may get 15 percent extra on Cash Cow or 20 percent extra on Bananza from 2 p.m to 4 p.m., for instance.

Other hourly events are sale items. Every day, certain items are on sale in the W Shop, but some items turn up on sale only during a certain hour of the day.

There are also games that are only played on the hourly events board:

Extra Wacky Bingoz Balls: You get one extra ball for each game (1 ball, 2 ball, 3 ball).
Extra Spin on the Wheel of WOW: Self-explanatory.
The Wheel of Yum: This is mostly a food-based reward wheel, but sometimes you get a Monkey and Monkey poster or some Kinzcash. Bananas are the most common reward.
Balloon Darts: It's like the carnival game; burst balloons. Some are empty, some have Kinzcash, or you can win a hairclip, a bunny doll, or clothing items like cowboy boots.
Quizzy's Blast: Combine a dart board that constantly changes values with Quizzy's trivia. Sometimes you will answer a question correctly for five points, but if the part of the board you land on is -5, you actually get nothing for answering! Aim carefully.
Extra Wishes at the Wishing Well: You usually get five.
W Shop Coupon: Pull a cord and a coupon pops up. Not a common hourly event.
Big Button of Kinzcash: This is a very rare event. Press the big button to make some extra moolah.
Super Wheel: Like the Big Button, this option comes very rarely. It usually has larger prizes however, with the lowest amount being W500 and items like sports cars and exclusive beds.
The Magic W: This is something I have heard about, but never seen. Occasionally a rainbow-colored W like the one in the Webkinz logo will float across your screen. Click it to receive a special prize

Get a Job!

TABBY Von Meow wants to give you a job! This bespectacled orange tabby cat runs the Webkinz employment office.

Every eight hours, and no sooner, you can do a Webkinz job. These are divided into easy, medium and hard jobs which have three levels of difficulty. You work up a level after doing a good job on the previous level three times. The most difficult level, of course, pays the most. If you can't achieve that particular level after three times, you get bumped down to the next lower level.

If you can't do the job at all, you get no Kinzcash. Just like real life!

Easy Jobs (indicated in white)

• Fence Painting is a visual version of Simon. You are shown a pattern of painted fenceposts, then must repeat the pattern.
• Hamburger Cook asks you to arrange hamburger, lettuce, cheese and tomato in whatever pattern has been shown to you.
• Shoe Store Clerk has you match shoes, as in a Concentration game.
• As Doctor Quack's Assistant, you patch up patients who either have a bump, a scrape, or a cold by providing them with the appropriate icebag, bandage, or medicine.

Medium Jobs (indicated in blue)

• A Grocery Clerk must match groceries to their shapes on a conveyor belt.
• Flooring Assistant matches a pattern shown to you.
• Mrs. Birdy's Assistant types a series of Webkinz-related words in a certain amount of time.
• Piano Tuner is similar to Simon; you must play an ever-increasing pattern of notes.

As of this date there are no hard jobs.

Hint: Have a favorite job but don't see it? All the easy jobs do not appear on the board every time. If you don't see the one you like to do, go into something else in Webkinz (or log off) and then come back into the Employment Office. It should be there.

Support Your Pet the Webkinz Way

TO emphasize that you have not just simply purchased a stuffed animal, but are adopting a new friend, your first Webkinz experience happens at the adoption office, staffed by Mrs. Birdy, a matronly penguin. (Scuttlebutt has it that Mrs. Birdy has an "understanding" with Dr. Quack, a duck with a Scots burr who is the Webkinz attending physician. LOL.) For an initial adoption, you begin by picking a username. Then you are given the opportunity to name your pet and choose its sex. Then, finally, you enter the code that comes on the Webkinz tag. A little biography of your new pet appears.

WeenieVoila, your pet now has a history.

With a pet you are also issued a medium-sized room and a certain amount of "Kinzcash." You are now responsible for keeping your pet happy, healthy, and well-fed. You can provide your pet a minimal good life by spending your Kinzcash at the "W Shop" for a basic bed and healthy foods like broccoli, corn, and carrots. However, thet W Shop also boasts multiple theme room furnishings such as sports, pirate, fantasy, country, etc., junk foods if you so choose, and even toys and games. So, as in real life, you must earn money to support your pets.

There are several simple daily events that you can do to manage this.

• The Wheel of Wow: Think the big cash wheel at the end of the Price is Right. You can win several different cash prizes, a couple of different food items, or a couple of different items, like a bed or a poster or T-shirt. Don't want a poster or T-shirt? You can sell it back to the W Shop!
• Wishing Well: A slot machine format in a wishing well? Whatever. certain combinations of fruits or animals give you money; a wildcard helps form matches. A wishing well will give you other money.
• Wacky Bingoz: Just like real Bingo, except with six blocks instead of five. Horizontal, vertical, or diagonal will get you $1000 on the 1 ball game, $500 on the 2 ball game, and $250 on the 3 ball game.
• Care Award: Click on the care award button daily and you get a free food item for your pet and a small amount of Kinzcash. If you do this for an entire week, you are placed in a drawing for an exclusive item.
• Gem Mining: The Curio Shop is owned by an old codger named Arte, a golden retriever who used to be an archaeologist who specialized in hunting treasure (a "golden retriever," get it?). Arte has various specials every hour—watch out! some can be found in the W Shop at a lower price, or sometimes he has only a minimal sale. W Shop coupons usually provide a better discount, but they don't come often. Arte also sells a rare item once a day, or items that are not sold in the W Shop. The other thing you can do in the Curio Shop, once a day, is search for Gems in one of five mines. You can sell the gem to Arte for whatever he'll give you for it, or you can save 30 different gems for a Webkinz Crown of Wonder, which your pet can wear (or which you can sell at the W Shop).
• Quizzy's: A dapper golden bear named Quizzy runs the trivia section of Webkinz. There is a daily trivia question and also a daily calendar trivia question. For extra points, you can answer more trivia questions at Quizzy's, which are divided into age groups from 5-6 to adult. But there are a finite number of Quizzy's questions, and once you're done, you'll need to wait for him to post more.

Next time: More ways to earn money!

The Open Door

IT had been a bad couple of weeks.

Our budgie Pigwidgeon had died on May 14. Over the summer of 2006 he'd begun developing black marks on his beak and claws, and his beak began to grow rapidly. He also had a black growth on one leg and under his lower beak. Budgies are disposed to cancer and I'm pretty sure it is what he had. The vet, however, thought it might be a liver problem and gave me special liver food for him, but he never got a chance to eat it. I came home the afternoon of the 14th and found he had passed over the Rainbow Bridge.

Since we'd talked to Jerry in April we had been looking occasionally for Webkinz at Hallmark shops, but at that point the stores were cleaned out of them. If they had critters left, they were tree frogs. Sorry to be a "mammal snob," but I'm not much of an amphibian person. :-) I had cruised the website to see what they offered, and of all the different animals I really wanted the white terrier, but nary a terrier did we find.

James had worked one day last weekend and was off today. About mid-afternoon he phoned me and said, "I'm at Hobbytown. They have pugs and tree frogs. Do you want a pug?"

I'm not much of a pug person, either, although Kristi and Kelly's two pugs are quite appealing. But it was a temptation: "Oh, why not? Sure."

Once home from work I found this little fellow on my computer desk. James had also bought himself a pug (I guess neither of us are tree frog people), which he had named "Shahak."

I took a literary track and named mine "Weenie" after Eloise's little pug, except that to tell the pugs apart I put a ribbon on mine and called it a girl.

With the code attached to Weenie's leg, I entered the Webkinz world.