April 16, 2009

Cheese – Mini Babybel

Posted in Food at 1:57 pm by Transmuter

Ok, I haven’t had a chance to get some real cheese eatin’ going on this week, so I’ll review the famous processed cheese known as “Mini Babybel”. I’m not entirely sure what a processed cheese is, except that it’s made of a combination of cheeses and cheese materials (like milk!). I always liked these as a kid, since 1) They’re kid-sized and 2) Unwrapping the wax is fun!

So I have ambivalent feelings about this cheese. Sometimes I eat it and I’m like “Wow, that was really tasty!” and other times I think “This cheese is kinda gross.” Why is that? I have no idea. Sometimes the first bite is icky but the last bite is good! So crazy. They make a convenient snack though!

Rating: 4/10 – 7/10 (Depending on my mood?)

Bonus tip: Apparently there are several varities of this mini cheese, such as cheddar, gouda, and “light”.

As another cheese note, yesterday I made a sandwich out of the last of my Dubliner cheese. Unfortunately I couldn’t slice it as thin as I had the first week since it was the end piece, so it was about twice as thick as I was used to. When I ate the sandwich it was totally gross! The cheese had crystallized or something, and the flavor was totally different from what I remembered. It did taste a lot like Swiss cheese, but even more disgusting! What’s the deal, man? Did the cheese go bad? It was probably three weeks old, stored in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator.

Revised rating: 1/10. Seriously, I couldn’t eat more than half of the sandwich!

On an unrelated note, I just finished reading every single Dinosaur Comic. I think it’s affected my writing style. Funny comic, though! Very cerebral, and lots of linguistics-related comics too!

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April 7, 2009

Cheese – Dubliner

Posted in Food at 4:18 pm by Transmuter

After the extreme creaminess of Havarti I wanted something a little firmer for my second cheese. Since my sister-in-law is serving a mission in Ireland I decided on Dubliner, which is Irish but not actually from Dublin. Anyway, Dubliner is an aged, firm cheese. While making my sandwich the first day I tasted a chunk of it – it was gross! “Crap,” I thought, “I have a week’s worth of this stuff!” However, I had heard that many cheeses should be served at room temperature for best flavor. Fortunately for my taste buds the sandwich was far tastier at lunchtime than it was when refrigerated. So if you ever buy any Dubliner, let it warm up before eating!

I really liked Dubliner. It has a similar texture to aged cheddar, but perhaps a bit grainier or more astringent. (I hope I am using the right terminology for this.) The flavor was not extremely sharp, but still somewhat strong; it seemed kind of nutty. I would definitely eat this cheese again.

Cheese rating: 9/10

As an interesting note, I assumed this cheese would be fairly exotic and uncommon since it was not one of the really well-known varieties and imported from Ireland. However, the other day I was shopping at Costco and lo and behold, there were a bunch of big bricks of Dubliner! That was certainly unexpected!

Cheese – Havarti

Posted in Food at 3:59 pm by Transmuter

Ok, for my first week of cheese experimentation I bought a hunk of Havarti. Havarti is a semi-soft cheese originating in Denmark. I made sandwiches of ciabatta bread, deli-sliced turkey, and sliced tomatoes. I had 4 sandwiches’ worth of ingredients, so I had one a day at lunch from Tuesday to Friday. I didn’t really care for it the first day, but by the second day the flavor had grown on me somewhat. By Friday I could appreciate the flavor of the cheese, but I wouldn’t say it was my favorite.

The cheese was soft and very creamy, with a mild flavor. At this point I’d probably say that I don’t particularly care for creamy cheeses, but I’ll try a few other soft varities in the future to make sure it wasn’t just Havarti I was unimpressed with. Keep in mind I love extremely sharp cheddar, so Havarti was like the opposite of that. Still, I didn’t dislike it either.

My rating: 5/10

April 3, 2009

Cheese

Posted in Food at 8:44 pm by Transmuter

I’m going to start reviewing cheese. For the title of this main post I tried to think of something fairly grandiose, like “All About Cheese” or “The Great Cheese Review”, but I don’t really know that much about cheese and I’m no high-class food critic. Hence we have the simple, if rather dull, title above.

Anyway, this might seem like it’s coming from out of left field, so let me explain. I have been a little more interested in cheese for the past few weeks for two reasons. Firstly, I saw an episode of “Good Eats” where Alton Brown talked quite a bit about cheese. Secondly, I read the Wikipedia article on cheese and several related articles. I read about how to make cheese, visited a few websites selling cheese and a few more sites selling cheesemaking equipment. I didn’t really intend to make cheese, but I was on something of a cheese studying kick so I learned a fair bit about it.

A week or two ago Chiemi and I discovered a grocery store called Harmons. It’s slightly fancier than your regular Albertsons – it reminds me a bit of Trader Joe’s, but not as exotic. I was impressed to see that they had a whole island displaying cheeses, with a “cheese monger” staffing it and giving advice to customers. I decided to try a week of making sandwiches for lunch at work, but this time using good ingredients. I bought some ciabatta bread, some fresh sliced turkey from the deli, and I decided on trying some Havarti cheese. If the experiment worked out, I planned to buy different types of cheese the following weeks until I had experienced many kinds of cheese.

Since I’m doing this cheese testing thing, I might as well write down what I think of each cheese, if only so I can remember which cheeses I liked. I’ll write a separate review for each type and link to them from here. As far as my cheese background goes, I like Gouda-type cheese and Pepper Jack. I don’t care for Brie or Swiss, but I absolutely love sharp cheddar, especially Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp. Mozzarella is ok, but kind of bland. Anyway, to the reviews!

The Cheese Reviews:

Week 1 – Havarti
Week 2 – Dubliner
Week 3 – Mini Babybel
Week 4 – DaVinci
Week 5 – Red Hot Dutch

March 24, 2009

Welcome (Back) to the World of Warcraft

Posted in Games, Latin Language, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 4:02 pm by Transmuter

Rumors of WoW’s death have been greatly exaggerated. I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this, but a few weeks ago Chiemi and I reactivated our World of Warcraft accounts with a little of our tax return money. We’re really happy to have it back, especially me. I was content without it, but we both enjoy it for the social aspect as well as for the gameplay aspect. Just in case we get tight on funds again in the near future we set our billing for the 6-month subscription. That way we don’t have to worry about another monthly payment to make, and it’s cheaper per month that way anyway.

So another thing I totally forgot about until recently is my blog at Path of a Hero. It’s a blog for your WoW character. You take a screenshot of your character and add it in when you make a blog entry. The website will then poll the Armory for your character’s equipped gear and list that along with the screenshot. You can see your character’s progression via means of a slider. Check it out and you’ll see what I mean.

In other news, I am continuing my Latin studies and am almost back to the point in the textbook where I was before I started over. I like learning Latin a lot, I just didn’t have the time or energy to do so back while I was in school. It was way too hard to do side studies while having to do lots of official studies at the same time.

Speaking of not going to school anymore, I really love working for the City of St. George. The people are great, the work is interesting, and we live in a beautiful house in a wonderful town. Chiemi’s blog has much more information (and pictures!), but I’ll just say that it’s small enough to be friendly and clean but large enough to have most amenities. And Las Vegas is only about 2 hours away, so Saturday trips aren’t infeasable.

Achievement Unlocked is a fun little game. The whole point of the game is to unlock all of the game’s 100 achievements. Many of the achievements are hilariously easy to accomplish, such as starting the game, dying, or jumping. The last few are a little tricky, but a hint is try pressing different buttons. I played through it times, just because it was entertaining and easy to play.

January 26, 2009

The End of WoW

Posted in Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 12:54 pm by Transmuter

The end of my subscription to World of Warcraft, that is. Chiemi and I have given up playing WoW for the time being to help our family save a little money. If all goes well we can renew our subscriptions in several months, maybe for summer or something.

It’s a pretty unfortunate circumstance, but I’ve been working hard the past couple weeks with the deadline (today) in mind, raising faction reputations that were close to leveling, clearing quests and accomplishing various achievements, and especially finishing all the Lunar Festival achievements in a matter of two days! If I’m lucky I’ll be able to resubscribe in time for the next holiday event. All in all, I got to do a lot of fun things and got a lot done before my subscription ran out, so I’m content with the way this ended.

On the bright side, now I have time for other things, like restarting my Latin studies and playing X3 with my X52. Lots of X there, probably some X-rays or something too.

Also, I haven’t been putting flash games at the end of my posts recently! What’s up with that? Anyway, today’s game is called Ice Breaker. You have to rescue vikings that are stranded in glaciers by cutting the ice around them and letting them roll/fall into their longboat, where a viking with a hammer will smash away the ice in which they are encased. It’s a fun little puzzle game, and I’ve never seen cuter vikings. Good cutting to you!

January 4, 2009

Miscellany

Posted in Family, Games, Video/Computer Games at 8:11 pm by Transmuter

Well, we went to our new ward for the second time, and it was a much better experience than the first time, when hardly anybody talked to us. I got to meet several people whose names I almost immediately forgot. I’m not good with names. I met the mayor, who is also in our ward, and he’s super friendly. I’ll probably end up working on his office computer at some point.

Get Smart is a hilarious movie. We rented it from Redbox for a date,  but I wasn’t expecting great things. I figured it’d be fairly amusing in places, but nothing to write home about. Well, I was wrong. It was funny from end to end; Chiemi and I were busting up the entire time! I know the movie got mixed reviews, but for whatever reason the movie really got to us. I highly recommend checking it out.

My 3-year-old Kyla is a really sweet girl at heart, even though she can be a pain to deal with sometimes. This evening, I read her a little book before bed, and after finishing I gave her the book to read on her own, as she usually likes to do. Well, tonight she gave me the book back and told me to give it to Arwen, her 14-month-old sister who had been staring longingly at us the whole time from her crib. Arwen had been VERY unhappy to be put to bed without a bottle, but she’s been overflowing her diaper almost every night recently, so no more water before bed. She does NOT like this idea at all. Well, Chiemi and I figured she was finally asleep before we put Kyla to bed, but she woke up as soon as Kyla and I entered the room. I suppose Kyla sensed Arwen was unhappy, so she generously offered her book to her. It was a very kind gesture, and Arwen happily grabbed the book from me and sat down. It kept her quiet for a bit before the screaming began again. Fortunately she fell asleep faster the second time.

Quick shout-out to my aunt Vicki, who bought me X3: Reunion for my birthday. Thanks, Vicki! I’ll be sure to blog about it sometime.

After my first week of work, I have to say I really enjoy it. I’m still learning the ins and outs of the place, but I work with a great team, and it’s all very interesting so far.

January 2, 2009

The Big Move

Posted in Family, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 8:51 am by Transmuter

Well, I have been terrible at updating this blog, as usual. However, I just made a Facebook account! It’s kind of fun, and I can see how some people could waste way too much time on it.

In family news, we just moved to St. George, UT because I got a job there! I’m happy to have finally found a job, and St. George is a beautiful place. I’m working in the City’s tech department with a bunch of really cool guys. We’re renting a really nice townhouse that is more like a real house since it doesn’t share walls with anything. Money’s going to be pretty tight for the foreseeable future, but that’s not much of a change. I may be looking for a little side work to supplement our income though.

In WoW news, I got Wrath of the Lich King and hit level 80 with my paladin. I have no drive to level my rogue right now because there’s so much to do still even at level 80! I’m slowly leveling my blacksmithing, clearing quests, and getting achievements. I now have the Hallow’s End title and the Winter Veil title, as well as the Explorer title. The achievements really add some fun things to do in WoW. Last night my sister and I, and my wife for a bit, ran a few old world dungeons to get the achievements for them. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, to save $30 a month my wife and I have canceled our accounts, and won’t be playing past January until we can afford it again.

In other gaming news, I’m hoping to be able to remotely play D&D with my group back in Cali. I found a program called MapTool, which is a mapping program that allows players to connect to the DM and do things like chat, move tokens around the map, and view/modify information. Brett’s going to use his laptop as the DM map, his desktop connected to his HDTV as the player map for the group, and I’ll connect with my computer as well. We’ll try webcams and microphones through Skype or Ventrilo and see how it works. Our next game is scheduled for next Thursday.

I got a Saitek X52 flight control system for Christmas. It was available refurbished for $25, which is an amazing deal considering it’s $100 new normally. I’ve already downloaded a half dozen games and demos of space flight sims to try it out with. I used to own Descent: Freespace and Freespace 2, but I fear the discs are long gone. I loved those games, and I was quite angry when my lovely Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro joystick was not compatible with any operating systems past Windows 98. It’s sad that this genre of games has diminished so much in recent years. However, one game called X3: Reunion looks promising. The graphics are quite good, and there’s a lot of interesting-looking stuff. It does seem to have a large learning curve though, so it’s going to take a long time to get the hang of it. I’ll be focusing on WoW until my remaining time expires anyway, so we’ll see in February.

October 13, 2008

WoW 3.0.2 Out Tomorrow

Posted in Family, Games, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 11:00 pm by Transmuter

I’m very excited about the new 3.0.2 patch for World of Warcraft that is coming out tomorrow. I’ve been playing the beta almost exclusively, since it’s painful to go back to the way paladins are in live. There are so many improvements to paladins it’s amazing! I’m sure the other classes have been improved too, but I’ve been having such a good time with my paladin that I haven’t even bothered playing my rogue. Add the new achievement system, and I think it’ll be enough to pull me away from the beta. Besides, all the beta stuff will be wiped away when it ends anyway. I plan getting a bunch of achievements: exploring the whole world, soloing all the low-level dungeons, and buying a bunch of mounts and noncombat pets. I really want the “Argent Champion” title, so I might go farm Stratholme to get exalted with the Argent Dawn. The runecloth will be useful for getting my reputation with Darnassus and Gnomeregan Exiles up to exalted too.

I’m still playing D&D every week, and it’s a blast! I really enjoy the new 4th edition, and playing with my friends is tons of fun. We’re up to level 4 now and just started a new adventure. We’re up to 6 players, which is a bit much, but it’s still fun. If we add any more players we might have to split into two groups! That could be a problem – my brother’s apartment wouldn’t fit everyone!

My two little girls are generally adorable, except when they’re cranky. Arwen is almost 1, and she’s going through the phase where she knows how to scream at will, and does so frequently. She sends her mother and father into fits, making them think she’s in terrible pain or danger. Compounding this is the fact that her older sister Kyla likes to mimic her. Stereo screaming is not fun. Fortunately, most of the time they’re sweet and very cute.

As far as the job search goes, I didn’t get the job I applied for in Wyoming. I haven’t given up yet, and I’m still trying to apply for jobs every day. Today I applied for a job that looks really good working for Blizzard Entertainment, the very company that develops World of Warcraft! It would be totally rad to work at Blizzard. I’m trying not to set myself up for disappointment though; I’m sure they get hundreds of applications. Well, here’s hoping.

I recently found a really cool website that develops flash games! It’s called Nitrome, and today’s pick is called OneKey. It’s a cute little action-puzzle game where you help a little square-shaped native get through a dangerous Aztec temple using only one key – the mighty spacebar! The twist is that you don’t actually control the native; you control all the various deadly traps in the temple, alternately activating and disabling them as the native blindly saunters past. It’s quite creative and innovative. Check it out!

September 14, 2008

General Update

Posted in Family, Games, Hobby, Role-Playing Games, Video/Computer Games at 9:45 pm by Transmuter

Ok, I really need to post something here; it’s been a while since my last post. My wife is so much better at blogging regularly than I am.

Well, last Thursday our ranger was out of town, but our new player Chris got to try out his dragonborn paladin with us in a test battle. It’s nice to have a tank again, and nice for my warlord to have a fellow melee class available again, since he synergizes so well with them. We all had a lot of fun, and I think Chris has grasped the basics pretty well. Hopefully everyone will be able to make it next time.

In World of Warcraft news, I’ve been enjoying the beta still. The new level 80 premades became available, so I copied a rogue, paladin, and druid over to try them out. I still can’t PvP very well on my rogue, but my ret pally is doing massive damage with gigantic crits! It’s very fun, and I’m halfway tempted to level my real paladin as retribution, rather than protection. On the normal beta server my pally has reached level 73, and I’ve almost cleared all of the quests in Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord. I have to say that Blizzard’s quest design keeps getting better. There was a massive improvement from vanilla WoW to BC, but the WotLK quests seem to ge a step higher still, with creative quests abounding. I enjoy the opportunity to submit my feedback on each quest, so I can tell Blizzard that quests that want a large number of items that have a low drop rate are not fun. Fortunately, I’ve not encountered very many of that kind of quest in the beta.

I haven’t been playing on the live realms much except to do arena once a week to build up arena points. I have my rogue in a 3v3 team with a resto druid and warlock. Our first week we went 0-10. The next week I think we went 2-8. Yesterday we managed to break even, winning 50% of our battles! We’re definitely improving our skills. Note to self – don’t try to attack the plate-wearers; you barely hurt them.

Sadly, I didn’t get the job I’ve had my eye on for the past few weeks. It sounded really good, but I guess I’ll have to keep looking. Hopefully I’ll find something as good or better!

In good news, my diet has been working. I’ve definitely lost some weight and and getting a bit thinner. Now I just need to keep it up and exercise more regularly.

No flash game this time. Maybe next time!

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