Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ham and Cheese

American supermarkets are all about making meals more convenient. I've seen jars of mixed peanut butter and jelly; with one of those, a PBJ sandwich should take half as long to make. More recently, I saw the equivalent for another sandwich staple: ham and cheese. It's a cube of processed, sliced ham like one would usually see, but nuggets of swiss cheese are insinuated throughout the loaf. What a great idea.

Where does food convenience go from here? I would be happy with a hotdog sausage engineered to have ketchup, mustard, and relish in its core. As things currently stand, I like hotdogs but they're more difficult to eat than I would like.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Alfred the Great

Before the year 1066, Britain was occupied by several kingdoms which I know very little about. King Alfred the Great ruled Wessex from 871-899, and in addition to expanding military and political power, he pushed education initiatives to get more people reading and writing English.

Part of this education program was the translation of Latin texts into English. King Alfred personally translated a text called Pastoral Care, and explains his process in a preface, quoted here:

"Ɵa boc wendan on Englisc Ɵe is genemned on Læden Pastoralis, ond on English Hierdeboc, hwilum word be worde, hwilum andgit of andgiete"

That is, "to translate into English the book which is named in Latin Pastoralis and in English Shepherdbook, sometimes word for word, sometimes sense for sense."

The word-for-word, sense-for-sense part is apparently a quote from Jerome, the saint who translated the Bible into Latin. As a method for translation, it sounds like a good idea, but I'm sure is much easier said than done. Even beyond deciding when things should be literal and when they should be sense-for-sense, I would guess that translating a sense is much more difficult than translating a word.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

TF2 and Honor

Team Fortress 2 is a multiplayer first-person shooter in which players choose one of nine classes (soldier, sniper, spy, etc.) and fight in teams, red against blue. It's a game I keep coming back to for a variety of reasons. One of TF2's main attractions for me is the human interaction it showcases. Some players will go to any lengths to win, using the best weapons possible and never stopping the attack. It's a fair way to play, well within the game's rules.

Some players, however, have what could be called 'TF2 honor,' a sense that within the range of what is allowed, some things are improper. It's bad form to use certain powerful weapons, especially when you're on the winning team. It's good form to apologize when a critical hit unfairly wins a fight for you. When a medic is healing you, you should thank (shortcut z2) and protect them. One could say that all this is just good teamwork, but it ends up making the game more interesting and fun for everyone involved. 'Honorable' TF2 players make for good teammates and better enemies.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fitting Faith

It's said that faith is being sure of something you cannot see. This has great implications, but it applies to less important things like buying clothes online. Will it fit?

There are, of course, many sizes to choose from in most online stores, charts of numbers and lengths and pages of reviews. All of that is evidence that the clothing might fit, but not proof. In the end comes the moment where the clothing physically arrives and the customer must find out for themselves if they chose the right size.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Walking Thoughts

For the past month or so, I've been living about a fifty minute commute away from the place I work. It's not ideal, but it means I have almost two hours each day to think while walking or on the bus.

Some thoughts aren't worth much, like when I think about how long it'll take me to get home. I'll reassure myself that I'm five minutes closer than I was five minutes ago, and then try to remember how I felt five minutes ago when I had so much further to go. I'll try and guess what time it is and then look at my phone to see if I'm right.

Sometimes I hum a tune, the sort of thing I used to put down on paper or on my computer as soon as I got home. I still try and work out what the notes would be if were to write it out.

The rest is hard to describe. I think about things I need to do, planning out emails to send and schedules to follow. If I'm hungry, I think about what I'll eat. Sometimes I think about ideas I disagree with and try to identify why I disagree. It's easy, of course, to win arguments in your head. I forget a lot of what happens on my commutes, but if I arrive and time has passed quickly, I know I've had a good think.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Origins of Bungee

The word 'bungee,' referring to an elastic cord, apparently originated in the early 20th century. I couldn't find a solid explanation of where 'bungee' came from, but one theory is that it's a blend of 'bouncy' and 'spongy.'

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Scrambled Egg Recipe

Whene'er I cook up scrambled eggs,
I use the same instructions.
A recipe worked out
Through many scrambled egg productions:

Step one: Fry two eggs in a pan
Let whites become opaque
Step two: Attempt to flip them and
Step three: Make a mistake

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Fine, Fine Line

For the past few weeks I had a free trial of McAfee antivirus installed on my computer. Once the trial ended, I got another antivirus program, but McAfee refused to give up, still disrupting my computing every day.

What are you supposed to do, then, when an antivirus acts like a virus? A few years ago when I happened to have two antivirus programs installed, one tried to take the other down. I suppose they're territorial.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Screenshot of the Day: Dragon Age: Inquisition

I had to stand like that because I was saying something important.

Dragon Age: Inquisition (DAI) is the third installation of Dragon Age, a series of role-playing games featuring magic, discrimination, complex moral issues, and, of course, dragons. In DAI, the player is the head of an organization called the Inquisition. It's a bit of a misleading name; Dragon Age's Inquisition focuses less on uprooting religious heresy and more on saving the world from being overrun by the forces of evil. The Inquisition usually follows this line of inquiry:
1. What's wrong?
2. How do I fix it?
3. (After fixing) Whose fault was it?

DAI has a larger scope than previous Dragon Age games-- the linear series of encounters typical of Dragon Age II have been replaced with wide-open areas full of side-quests and things to explore. There is, in fact, almost too much to do, and as a result of that, one of the interesting choices the player makes is what to leave undone; the Inquisition can't help everyone.

One fun thing about DAI is interacting with characters from previous Dragon Age games. There are several encounters with the protagonist of Dragon Age II, whose actions in DAI are determined by the choices I made while playing Dragon Age II.

Overall, Dragon Age: Inquisition is an impressive piece of work, striking at a delicate balance between open-world and story-driven gameplay.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Optimal Bread

Paying more for food usually has diminishing returns; the difference in quality between a $3 box of cereal and a $4 box of cereal is more than the difference between $4 cereal and $5 cereal.

Depending on how much grocery money you have, then, you can optimize purchases for the best balance quality and price. After a couple weeks of eating PBJ sandwiches, I think a loaf of bread is best in the $1.50 to $2.00 range-- the stuff I've bought below that price is much worse but I can't taste much improvement past the $2 mark.

I don't think I've ever bought peanut butter I don't like, so now I just need to find the optimal jelly price and I'm set.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Best 35 Seconds

I saw a video today with the caption "This might be the best 35 seconds of your day!" I watched the video and it wasn't the best 35 seconds of my day, but I can't say I'm surprised.

What was the best 35 seconds of my day? Getting a drink of cold water after coming home from work was nice, and the closest thing to 35 seconds today I can think of. Right now I'm looking forward to the 35 seconds of increasing relaxation just before I fall asleep.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ye Goode Olde Dayes

Youngsters aren't as well-mannered as they used to be-- this may be true, but if so, they haven't been as well-mannered as they used to be for a long time. The Pricke of Conscience, a poem written in the 14th century, states:

"For swilk degises and suilk manners,
Als yhong men now hauntes and lers
And ilk day es comonly sen,
Byfor this tyme ne has noght ben;
For that somtyme men held velany
Now yhung men haldes curtasy;
And that som tyme was courtasy cald
Now wille yhong men velany hald."

That is,

For such guises and manners
As young men now pursue and learn
And are commonly seen every day,
Before this time have not been,
For what men once held has villainy
Now young men hold as courtesy
And that which at some time was called courtesy
Now will young men hold as villainy.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Cuisine Connoisseur

A weekend in Charleston, South Carolina allowed me to experience new types of Southern cuisine. One dish that stuck out was fried chicken with a sweet tea glaze, a tasty fusion of stereotypes. The chicken was juicy on the inside with a crunchy coating; flavors were finely balanced and perfectly complemented with a side of buttery mashed potatoes.

Surprisingly enough, I had had a similar meal not too long ago: ten chicken nuggets with honey-mustard sauce and medium fries. The chicken was dry and uniform in texture; the fried nugget coating was savory and cardboard-like. The french fries were hot and salty, very tasty when dipped in the provided sauce, as were the nuggets.

I enjoyed both meals; sweet and savory chicken with a side of potatoes gets me every time.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Asterisk Advertisement

Most of the advertisements I see share a common language.

If a statement is followed by an asterisk*, I assume it's not true. I saw a box of cereal the other day that Reduces Cholesterol* (in conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise) in the same way that eating stacks of A4 printer paper Makes You Rich* (in conjunction with a high-paying job and good financial planning). I'm still jaded by the Unlimited* college meal plan I had two years ago.

Sometimes things are free, but a lot of things advertised as FREE aren't worth having. I can understand free samples, for instance: people try a product and those that like it might buy some. FREE samples, on the other hand, are iffy-- why is the seller so excited that their stuff is free? Free airport wifi is becoming a norm, but FREE airport wifi usually comes at the cost of email address or some other sort of registration.

For the full package of condescending advertisement, I like to see both of these used at once: This Summer at Restaurant, Kids Eat FREE*. What a time to be alive.