Tag Archives: suspense

Chocolate Cheddar Review

cheese 4I love chocolate.                                                   I love cheese.                                                   But together?                                              Would it please?


I broke down and finally bought Trader Joe’s chocolate Cheddar cheese and I must say it’s not bad. As you can see from the photo, the cheese has dark chocolate shavings inside–meaning, it’s MOSTLY cheese.

First, I tasted it plain and cold. The OK cheddar flavor was followed by a hint of chocolaty sweetness.

Second, I sipped red wine and nibble on the cheese. Much better! The wine helped bring out the flavors of both. SO, this would be a good novelty cheese to include in a sampling if you need quick, fun party nibbles.

cheese 5Third
, (I’m ever so diligent during chocolate experimentation) I added a slice of cheese atop a split croissant, and warmed in the toaster over!  Magnifico! On par with Nutella! The heat brought out both flavors and, combined with the delicate taste of the croissant ,made for a yummy–if not calorie-laden–treat.

I think this chocolate cheddar would be great wrapped in a wonton and fried. Hubby’s family stuffs empandas with cheese, so this might be a unique substitute.

cheese 1If you love the idea  and taste of a sweet cheese, I suggest buying an expensive gourmet bottle of vinegar ( don’t even ask how many bottles of flavored specialty vinegars I have) and shake the decadently sweet drops onto the cheese for a real “party in your mouth.”




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Techno Troubles

I love technology. I do! I really do. Except on those days when everything goes horribly wrong. Well, maybe not horribly, but it’s frustrating when the technology doesn’t work and I  waste time.

Case in point: Monday.
  • My car won’t “find” my phone so I can’t  make a hands-free call.
  • Once the car finally “finds” my phone, the cheerful female voice informs me the “phonebook” is empty. Empty?
  • Walked into the classroom to find a new phone system installed—complete with high-tech phone. Great! Except, there’s  no User Manual—I might read it–uummmm who am I kidding? Because of the upgrade, important extensions were changed. Now I have zero clue how to get messages AND I don’t know how to record a greeting AND passwords haven’t been assigned  to access the voice mailbox. ( ACK! Another password to add to my list—see yesterday’s post)
  • Printer gets jammed.
  • Computer won’t “load.” No icons. Just blue empty screen. Once. Twice. Three times. Ahhh—there it goes. I have icons!
  • Can’t figure out the digital recorder I need to use today. There’s a wheelie thingy, and a mode button and a whole row of functions I can’t figure out.
  • Phone has no bars. (Ten years ago, no one would have known what that statement meant—now you’re all thinking—“Yep, no bars, you’re in a dead zone.”
  • My iPad is demanding a new email password.
  • The connector from digital recorder to computer doesn’t work.recorder
  • My school computer won’t “read’ the memory card.
  • Online form won’t download correctly.
  • Keep getting errors on an upload.
  • I can’t remember which flash drive I put all the stuff I need for today’s work.

I love technology. I love technology. I love technology.

I’ve had worse TechnoTrouble days. We all have. What’s yours?

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Password Blues


Do YOU have too many passwords?

Do you suffer from password or PIN confusion?

Passwords multiple—like rabbits, more and more, and more—and well—you get the picture.

It started out innocent enough. Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away (do you hear the musical score to Star Wars in the background) when the first computer was brought into the home many years ago. A password  was needed to access the computer. OK. Innocent enough.

But now! OMG! Even the mention  of “create a password” sends me running down the metaphoric hall, hair flying, arms flailing in the air, screaming “nooooooooo.”

I have over 25—that’s right—different passwords. How did I accumulated so many?

  • Bank accounts
  • Social media platforms:face book (personal, teacher, author), twitter, pinterest, 2 Instagrams, Tumblr, Goodreads, etc
  • Various publishing  and/or writing websites/programs
  • Multiple—and I mean way too many school-related  programs, websites, etc
  • several emails
  • a few software applications
Puppy commiserates while I rant about passwords!

Puppy commiserates while I rant about passwords!

The biggest problem. Those programs that demand the passwords be changed every few months. ACK!

“But L.Z.” I hear you saying, there’s a program for that. It saves all your passwords, even enters the  passwords and PINS for you.” That’s next on my to-do list. And I have a sneaking suspicion it will require a password!

My techie-son was appalled I have so many passwords. He demanded to know what they were all for. I read him the list, and he shook his head sadly. “Sorry, Mom, yeah you do have a lot.”

The other day, I swiped my card at the grocery store and was about to enter the PIN—another word that makes me quake in terror—when I had a brain fart. The mind went blank. Zero. Nada. My own memory wiped clean of those random numbers assigned by the bank.  I blame the checker, he was talking to the manager and they were discussing numbers and WHAM—I couldn’t remember my own.

Lucky for me, my gorgeous 17-yr old daughter stood next to me. She burst out laughing when she saw the expression on my face. “Mom, the brain is the first to go.”
“No,” I snapped back. “A woman’s cute looks are.”
That shut her up!
As we sat and sipped our mochas a few minutes later, I asked my daughter what her social security number was.
She grimaced, “I don’t know.”
“What’s your employee number?” Smug sip.
“I don’t know.”
“How many passwords and PINs do you have?”
“OK. OK. I get it, already.”
Yep! Soon enough, she will get multiple passwords. Life. School. Career. They all come with passwords.
 In addition to the password and the PIN, some sites want you to create secret  security questions. The toughest site I ever encountered demanded 3 security questions NOT related to name of pet, color, favorite food, locations, letters in your name, or  D.O.B

I really, really hope I wrote the answers down somewhere…

Related posts: Random Realities
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First World Problems

OMG! I think I have FWP!

Came across this funny little gem. Perfect to show my students. Sometimes we forget how good we have it.  Do YOU  have FWP?


My FWP? When Starbucks runs out of those little green sticky-things and I spill a few drops of overpriced mocha while walking to my car.
What’s an example of one of your FWPs?
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Girlie to-do list part 2

mimiAfter reviewing yesterday’s whine, I realized I left out an important beauty routine. One that experts say “only takes 10 minutes” but which normal gals claim “no way!”

My face! I’m not talking about the basics: wash, moisturize-moisturize-moisturize ( the eyes get a special product)- I’m speaking of that whole other business…

Applying The Make-up.

Every cosmetic counter I’ve been spouts the benefits of a primer ( like I’m a painting or something). There’s also a “finisher” product, but since I’m not going to the Academy Awards this year I skip that purchase.

That leaves: concealer, foundation, powder, blush, eye shadow, eye liner, lipstick/gloss,and mascara. More concealer. Somehow- that whole process takes more than 5 minutes.

If I’m going for the “natural look” it takes a whole lot longer.

My daughters swear by multiple coats of mascara–I’m lucky if I remember to drag the wand across the lashes ( which is why I keep mascara in my classroom). And cosmetic affectionatos will notice that I made no mention of contouring and highlighting.

Anyway, we all have gripes about the impossible beauty standards set by Hollywood, society, advertisements, and–yes–even our own ideas, so I’ve included a video depicting what is required for a woman to look “picture perfect.”

Real Beauty: An Unreal Transformation. You’ll feel MUCH better after watching it.


Related Posts: Girlie to-do list part 1; Gadget Girl; Why my dog is a Kardashian; Surviving my purse; Packing black

Girlie to-do list

better-of-beauty-calgon-take-me-away_-eeba_0Girls have too many beauty regiments! Part 1

The other day I went to the dentist, where the hygienist informed me that I needed to devote 3 minutes to brushing my teeth using small circular movements. Evidently, I am too aggressive in my brushing ritual.  I smiled sweetly, nodding my head in agreement. Yes, I’m thinking, three minutes to add to my already rushed beauty ritual in the morning.No problemo!

face washHere’s a list of stuff the experts advise that I do everyday.
  • Hairdresser: apply soothing oil to my tresses
  • Nail technician: apply moisturizing hand cream AND rub in cuticle cream/oil
  • Pedicurist: apply moisterizing cream to heels
  • Aesthetician: apply moisturizing face cream and exfoliate
  • Physician: exercise AND eat oatmeal
  • Dentist: floss
  • Hygienist: brush for 3 minutes in slow circular motion
  • Lady/Guy at the Mac Counter: use base coat before before applying makeup
Other activities random experts claim we must do:
  • meditate
  • eat fruit
  • eat vegetables
  • drink 8 glasses of water
  • drink herbal tea
  • take B-vitamin supplement
  • do yoga

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time for all that stuff. I have a job! I need to leave  the house in the morning! I’m not a Kardashian who can spent hours on consuming beauty rituals.

I told my husband something had to give, that there’s simply not enough time in my day to get done everything I should ( moisturizing takes time). I’m thinking about eliminating grocery shopping from my daily activities–and cooking.

What’s your favorite or least favorite beauty ritual!

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Roasted Beet Salad

I know! I know! Beets… But it’s time to re-think  how delicious this veggie can be if served right!

beet saladThis tasty salad recipe comes from my future daughter in-law. She always has the most wonderful  recipes for vegetables–no doubt because her family owns
Weiser Family Farms. They are organic farmers and their certified organic specialty produce is found on the menus of  some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles.

Lucky for us, their certified organic produce is also  available at 18 different farmers markets in SoCal. Check their website for farmer market times and locations and also for lots of yummy healthy organic recipes.

I wasn’t a fan of beets until just a few years ago. This root vegetable is a good source of beets5glycine betaine ( good for your blood), folates, vitamin A, carotenoids, flavonoids, anti-oxidants, as well as a host of B-complex vitamins and  minerals. That’s one healthy vegetable!

Salad Ingredients
  • 4-5 small beets ( golden, candy-stripped, or regular)
  • 1 bag of baby arugula
  • blue cheese
  • optional: candied pecans or walnuts
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Dressing Ingredients
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • garlic salt
Place foil in a baking dish with beets. Lightly coat beets with olive oil, salt,and pepper. Wrap  beets in foil to form a packet. Bake the beets at 350 degrees until fork tender (approx 40 minutes). I use my toaster oven.  Let beets cool until warm. To remove skin, use a paper towel and simply rub off the skin- quick and easy! Slice beets and chill in refrigeration until ready to assemble salad.

Toss arugula, chilled beets, dressing, and blue cheese. Top with candied walnuts/pecans if desired.

Dressing: 2 parts lemon juice to 1 part olive oil. Season with garlic salt.

I could eat this salad every day! Thanks Steffy, for the great recipe.

See you at the farmer’s market!

Remember the e-book of
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Fab Female Friday:Boudicca

"Boadicea Haranguing the Britons" by John Opie

“Boadicea Haranguing the Britons” by John Opie

Bodacious Boudicca was the queen of the Icini tribe in Briton (the area is called Norfolk now) in AD 60.

After her husband, King Prasutagus died, Roman publicani (crooked tax collectors) and loan sharks infested the land demanding MONEY $$. No frail flower, Boudicca knew she was being played and manipulated by Roman thugs so she voiced her objections—loudly!

The Roman response? Boudicca was flogged (whipped)  and her daughters publicly raped and beaten.

Rightly incensed at this atrocity, the red-head Boudicci gathered her warlike people and led them in a revolt against the Romans where she devastated the 9th Roman legion. How did they do this? The stealthy Celts engaged in guerrilla style warfare, moving quickly through the dense forests and taking the slow-moving Romans by surprise.

Victorious— but still pissed off—she advanced on London, a hub for Roman trade.B1

The numbers are suspect but Boudicci’s army reportedly slew over 70,000 Roman citizens who were living in London.

The tide soon turned and the growing revolt against the Roman interlopers ended in tragedy when the over-confident, ill-armed Celts could not withstand the highly-trained, well-equipped Roman forces. The massacre was  vicious— men, woman, and children–no one escaped the carnage.

Reports differ over the death of this warrior woman. Some say  Boudicci committed royal suicide by poison ( the rage at the time). Others contend she became sick and died.

Boudicca: Bold. Powerful. Determined. Courageous. Fierce.
Legendary Queen and Fearless Leader.

To learn more about this Fab Female check out the University of North Carolina’s website at http://www.unc.edu/celtic/catalogue/boudica/catalog.html

Related posts: Fab Females

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Pinterest Convert

Short post today–I’m catching up on novel writing, picture pinning, and other author-ly stuff.

After a bit of hemming and hawing, I joined the ranks of the Pinterest groupies.  So far, I have 5 boards and plan to add more. It’s fun finding and pinning all the pictures for the different novels. Daphne’s clothes, the stones in the merkabah, her favorite coffee…a great tool for author and reader. Warning: One’s imagination is ever so much more powerful, so I won’t be too specific–we all have a vision of what S.J. might look like.

We loved picture books as children–we still do! Pinterest indulges our need for visual candy!


The “stuff I love” board is glimpse into L.Z.Marie’s head. It’s pretty tame at the moment, but has definite scary (or nerd) potential.

The “recipe” board will come in handy when the cooking/baking bug bites.

If you already have a Pinterest account, I would love you to follow me. There’s a link on the side bar (on laptop) or scroll down to end of page ( on iPad or iPhone.)

And of course, it goes without saying that I love when I get “Likes” on my Facebook page.

Note: If “it goes without saying” then why do people still say it?

The next free e-copy giveaway of The Merkabah Recruit is February 16th and 17th. (President’s Day is the 18th).

If you don’t have a Kindle, but you do have an iPad, just google Kindle for iPad and download the app! It’a free! Now you can download bazillions of Kindle books at a fraction of the cost of paperback or hardback. And you can take advantage of the many free ebooks  Amazon offers–like mine!

My daughter has a Kindle app on her iPhone and there are also Kindle app for PC, Android, Blackberry, and MAC.

Happy Reading!

Pork and Hominy

securedownload (1)You know me, cooking tasty but simple recipes I can throw together fast after work is important.  As an IB teacher by day and author by night, I have queries to compose, a novel to write, and a stellar pitch to prepare for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel contest.

Keep in mind that ingredient amounts can vary depending on individual preferences- so go ahead and alter quantities if you have an affinity for a particular ingredient.

So without further ado…

  •  2 cans white hominy (drained)
  • 1-3 lbs bite-sized pork  ( I have to feed carnivores so I use 3 lbs)
  • cilantro
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 large onion diced ( or more if your family loves onions)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: several green chilis, sliced ( from a can)
  • optional: squeeze of lime

I use a large electric fry pan-less to clean up and the flavors blend nicely.

Saute onion and garlic in butter, then add and brown the pork morsels. Salt and pepper the pork porkwhile cooking. After thoroughly cooked, move the pork and onions to one side and add the drained hominy. (I like more hominy, less pork, and Hubby requires more meat).  Add cilantro to hominy and heat through. Green chilis can be mixed in to hominy, pork or both.

Delicious served with squeeze of lime, picante, or salsa.

Muy Gusto!

OK, now I have to get back to writing my perfect pitch.



Hubby Funnies: Hubby Goes to Costco

Costco (1)It’s not often Hubby accompanies me to Costco. Can’t say I blame him. It’s crammed with people; you spend more than you budget; buy stuff you don’t really need ( in bulk); and wile away a good hour walking up and down the skyscraper-high isles.


Hubby doesn’t like shopping. (The “s” word makes him yawn.)
So when we had to return a Christmas gift, he decided to come with me. After we waited in the miles long return line, I informed him I needed to “get a few things.” ( Female for “Muhhahaha…I’m gonna make you push a cart behind me like a sissy while I take many hours to buy all the food in the store!”)


Hubby pushed the cart , BUT he didn’t follow me. I headed toward the grocery section, thinking Hubby was right behind me. By the time I turned at the Polar Ice Cap ( the frigid room where they keep the veggies), Hubby had vanished!


Disappeared into the Costco abyss!
I looked all over for him! I finally found him in front of one of the sample stands, noshing on a sausage.
“What are you doing?”
“Eating.” He executes a perfect toss of his paper cup into the trash bin.This is only my 4th stop, there are about 5 more to go. And I want to go back to the sausage lady.”
“Well,hurry up,  I’ll be in the veggie room.”
“I’ll be right behind you.”
But I enter the veggie room alone! Again!
He finally…finally meets up with me, a frown on his face. “Do we really need all those vegetables?”
“I thought you were going on your caveman diet!”
“I am! Meat and vegetables and meat!”
I toss an armload of celery, asparagus, red peppers, cucumbers, and lettuce in the cart. “You can pick out your own meat.”


Now Hubby likes to complain that I shop “too slow” and take “too much time.” He doesn’t know how to choose a ripe fruit or a fresh vegetable.
So imagine my surprise when he spends  a looooong time perusing all the meat cases! He went from pork to beef to chicken and back again. His pupils were dilated and he wore a delirious  smile on his face. ( Kind of like when I see a shoe sale)
After much deliberation, he tossed pounds of pork in the cart, then marched over to the beef section where –I swear—he  wiped a tear as he fondled a 50 lb cut of beef.
“You are NOT getting that!” I shake my head.
“It’s so beautiful. I can almost taste it.”
After I drag him away from the meat cases, I stop at the kitchenware isle and point to the pots.
“I need new pots.”
“Yeah, I know, you keep telling me, but there’s no way I’m gonna buy you pots for Christmas. I would NEVER live that down.”
“You’re probably right.”
He hoists the giant box into the cart next to all the meat and together we stroll to the register—he’s happy about his meat and I’m glad to have shiny new pots.
Best part about taking Hubby to Costco: He loads the stuff in the car and unloads it when we get home.
Now, If only he would cook all the meat he bought!

Related Links: Hubby goes to starbucks; Hubby helps in the kitchen; Hubby uses the car’s navigation system

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Apple Pie

Who doesn’t love APPLE PIE!

It’s comfort food!

I’m all about fast and easy recipes.  (Fast and easy also describes one of the characters in The Merkabah Recruit) Editing and rewriting consumes much of my time, so I like to get in and out of the kitchen fast!

Apple pie is one of the quickest and simplest pies to make!

Unless you’re a purest, skip the homemade crust. There are plenty of excellent crusts on the market. Check the refrigerated section–grocery stores usually keep them near the cookie dough.




  • green apples, 6 or more depending on size, peeled and sliced

    This makes peeling apples a snap! Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond and most kitchen stores.

  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a few pats of butter
  • pie dough for top and bottom crust
  • a splash of lemon juice if the apples begin to turn brown while your peeling
Mix apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Add more cinnamon and sugar to taste.

Roll out one of the dough rounds in glass pie pan. Heap apple mixture in pan–I like my pie stuffed with apples. Cover with top crust. Seal bottom and top together using thumbs and forefingers.


Puncture crust with fork in a pretty sunburst pattern.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar (adds sparkle). Bake in 425 oven for 15 minutes then lower to 325 for 35-40 minutes.  If fluted edges become too brown, cover with tin foil and continue baking.

Serve plain or a la mode. Drizzle caramel sauce over top.

Chakra Chat

Chakras part 1

Chakras part 1

Chakra means wheel of light and refers to the energy that all life possesses and resonates.

The body has 7 distinct energy sources that reveal and control the emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental health.  Belief in these subtle forces originated thousands of years ago and are found in ancient Vedic texts ( Indian Sanskrit ). Whether you’re a skeptic or not, one thing is certain, science validates the existence of energy in all things. 

There are 7 chakra locations on our body: root, sacral, solar plexus, heart, throat, brow, and crown. Each is responsible for a different energy and is linked with a specific music, shape, age,, element, gland, sense, crystal, plant, life issue, astrological sign, and angel.

For the chakra newbie, here’s a quick overview.

  • Muladhara: root chakra
    Location: Base of spine. Matures at age 7.
  • Concerned with integrity, ancestral attitudes, personal hardships, and family history.
  • A healthy root chakra is flexible, adaptable, focused, patient, and giving. It’s also the fight or flight energy. 
  • The positive archetype is the  Earth mother. The negative archetype is the victim.
  • Associated elements are: sage, musical note C, sense of smell, red, cinnamon oil, lead, ruby and hematite, percussion rhythms, and the Archangel Michael.
  • The positive archetype is the Mother, the negative archetype is the victim.


Svadhisthana:  sacral chakra
  • Location: Two inches below the naval and inside the pelvis. Matures by age 14.
  • Controls health. Responsible for controlling our sex drive, appetite, and need for giving and/or receiving  pleasure.
  • Requires food, sex, work, fun, and exercise.
  • Functions well if person believes they deserve good things in life.
  • Associated with musical note D, water, Latin dance, tiger’s eye and onyx, tin, color orange, jasmine,  yoga, and the archangel Metatron.
  • Positive archetype is the Emperor/Empress and the negative archetype is the  Martyr.

Manipura: solar plexus chakra

  • Location: Below sternum and over stomach. Matures between ages 12- 21.
  • Responsible for gut instinct and personal power. 
  • Concerned with finances, relationships, career, responsibility, and personal identity. Grows strong and resilient with challenges.
  • Associated with: musical note E, yellow, topaz and citrine, gold, competitive sports, and  carnation. 
  • The positive archetype is the warrior; the negative, the servant.


Anahata: heart chakra

  • Location: Middle of the chest. Matures between ages 28-35.
  • Responsible for creating loving and mature bonds.
  • Concerted with Peace, Love,Unity, and Joy. Requires sharing, touching, and establishing or maintaining personal connections.
  • Healthy when you are kind, accepting, and inclusive. Weak if you are withholding, judgmental, critical, and superficial.
  • Distress, pain, and loss cause the energy field to contract.
  • Aspects are: choir music, air, Venus, sun, gold, copper, peridot, diamond, deer, yoga, massage, and the archangel Raphael.

Vishuddha: throat chakra

  • Location: The throat. Matures between ages 35-40.
  •  Conduit to a higher spiritual realm, aka “The Mouth of God.”
  • Set free when you speak with integrity, humility,inspiration, and truth.
  • Weakened by unvoiced emotions ( fear, anger, and gossip), smoking, poor health, alcohol, and drugs.
  •  Associated with: musical note G, opera, hearing, aquamarine, turquoise, sparrow hawk, gardenia, chanting, fasting, and the archangel Gabriel.

Ajna: brow chakra

  • You’re familiar with this one–it’s the 3rd eye!  Location: Between the brows. Matures in  mid 30’s.
  • Responsible for spirituality, right thinking, discernment, maturity, analysis, andwisdom.
  • Helps the emotional, intuitive, and creative brain realize harmony.
  • Creates our reality—good or bad–and has the power to create misery or happiness.
  • Associated with: 5 point star, silver, Peru, sapphire, tanzanite, lapis lazuli, sweet pea, heliotrope, Mozart sonatas, musical note A, indigo, and the feminine face of God.
  • Positive archetypes include, Elders, philosophers,and wise ones.
  • Negative  archetypes include pedantic pedagogues and narrow-minded intellectuals.

Sahasrara: crown chakra

  • Location: Top of head. Matures during mid 40’s and later.
  • Responsible for spirituality, wisdom, discernment.
  • Concerned with personal and worldly insights. Embraced and cultivated by mystics and healers.
  • Requires rest, calm, balance, and inner peace to operate at full capacity. (I’m thinking this is only possible if teens have left the home).
  • Associated with: color violet, musical note B, alexandrite, amethyst, Indian raga, platinum, lotus flower,lavender oil, meditation, and prayer.
  • The Guru is the positive archetype, the Egoist, the negative.
















Pssst! Discover the cosmic line between myth & scientific possibility  in this sassy-smart urban fantasy series. Books 1 & 2 of the 5-part  Merkabah Series are self-published and available on Amazon.  Book 3 coming soon!

Related Posts: Engaging Enigmas