Thursday, February 28, 2008

Living Alone, and its Benefits

Why is it great to live alone, outside the shelter of one's parents, and without the loving companionship of a spouse? Or even the commraderie (and rent payment) of a roomate?

Becuase I'm sitting in my chair, quitely surfing the Intarwebs, while eating a bowl of Cap'n Crunch w/ Crunch Berries.

I'm fully dressed right now, but reserve the right to make this a "Pants Free Zone" at will. When all of the U.S. is a Pants Free Zone, only criminals will wear pants.

If anyone wants to see what this household shall be like after the fabric shackles of pants are gone, look no further.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Subprime Primer

The Consumerist linked to a pretty good explaination of the subprime meltdown. Not just how people buy stuff they can't afford, but how pretty much EVERYONE involved made bad decisions in order to get rich quick. Best of all, it's told through the magic of Stick Figures. Enjoy!

Warning: Language that might make some of the more sensitive people gasp.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Grubbin' with Fuzzy: Pizza

Saturday, I made pizza. partially becuase I need to get learn how to make baked goods (pizza crust counts!), and partially becuase the only 2 pizza places in town don't deliver (ones a Hut, the other is a lunch counter in Lyman that's combined with a video rental business.

The dough is pretty basic 1 part warm water (the yeast is dump into here) to 3 parts flour, a tablespoon or so of Olive Oil, a little salt, and a tablespoon of sugar. The sugar is there ONLY for for the yeast to nibble on... before I incinerate them all in my oven after they outlive their usefullness.

This is also the first time in a long while that I've been able to have my favorite topping combination on my pizza: Sausage and Black Olives. Yum. I had a friend who didn't like black olives at all. I made him a believer after I had him try a slice of this action. If you haven't done this before, I reccomend making a pizza with only these two toppings. Try it. Thank me later.

Sausage & Olive Pizza, after cooking

It was nice to be able to do this again, becuase as much as I love my friends, pizza philosophy is something we just didn't see eye to eye on. I like balance in my pizza toppings. some meat some veggies, etc. The Guys balk at the suggestion that their pizza should contain a topping that wasn't hacked away from a dead animal. I had also, until recently, held plain cheese pizza in lowest regard. booooorinnng!! The Guys, who each hate a different topping, all like it. Although, I discoved that some of that crushed red pepper sprinkled on top can do wonders for plain cheese.

I've heard a lot of respected cooking authorites, including one of my favorites, express how you want very little sauce and cheese, as not to overwhelm the flavor of the crust or confuse the pallette with a zillion toppings. I've always been a lake-of-cheese kinda guy, and I like the taste of my pizza sauce, as simple and uninspired as it is, so I was a little leary about cutting back on the goods, but I figured I'd give it a try. And let me tell you... everything they told you about cutting down on the toppings, sauce, and cheese... a damned lie.

It wasn't bad, in fact pretty good, except for the part that it could have used a little more sauce, some more cheese. But if someone tells you they don't like the cheese and sauce to overwhelm the flavor of the crust, let them know that it's like using less chicken in their chicken broth, so it doesn't overwhelm the natural taste of the water. Anyone that likes their pizza to be that simple should just give up and make focaccia bread (NOTE: foccacia bread is pretty good, as long as you don't confuse it with pizza).

Don't let the pizza snobs lie to you.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Global Conquest

Today I visit a co-worker and his family for a game of Risk, becuase every few months or so, I need a good reminder of why I hate it. Several of you have your own list like this; here's mine.

First, the game is a bit dependent on turn order. whoever goes first, has a chance to conquer other players' territories, which lowers the amount of reinforcments a they get, while the first player gets the maximum amount, becuase by virtue of the first turn, he didn't have any of his terriorties conquered.

Second, do you know what the only thing worse than being eliminated early is? Being nearly wiped out then left for dead with no hope of a comeback.

Third, there's always that weak player in the game who get beaten back to a small corner of the board. This player has no hope for conquest and can't gain a foothold, but his personal quest for relevance, he decides to put his armies on on territory and make hopeless push into oblivion, his sole purpose to wreck the game balance and somehow make a point to THE MAN!!! Becuase THE MAN has been keeping him down, or something. Typically, I find my territories next to this player's territories a lot.

And last, the constant attrition in the endgame. The the last two players' armies wax and wane as they each turn in card sets for 30, 35, 40 or more armies, everybody tyring to make that last push until someone turns in that set that gives them enough force to wipe the map clean. Strategy in this last part is irrelevant. Really, when it's down to two players, they should just roll the dice 101 times, note who got the highest outcome for each roll. Whoever 'wins' the most rolls, Wins the game.

Admitedly, few of these particular occurences happened today, and I'm probably rubbing some Risk die-hards the wrong way, who'll tell me about how they win games with 5-star general calibur battle plans, and the delicate placements of their troops. Yeah, in a big game, that's more important, but in the end, it's who has more guys, and if that's too close, it's who has luckier dice. I'm sure a lot of you want to post a rebuttal, so go ahead, the comments are open.

As for me, I'm hoping to play more Risk 2210, as it addresses some of the above issues:

  • You have to bid for turn order (using Energy, a new resource).
  • The game only lasts for 5 rounds, after which everyone counts up points (primarily based on territories and continents controlled) so once you get the hang of it, games no longer take all day.
  • Before the game begins, 4 random territories have been devistated by nuclear war, and are impassible and cannot be occupied. In addition to the cool nuclear fallout flavor, this gave subtle changes to board each time and warp common strategies just enough to make things interesting without wrecking things.
  • Have you ever head this in a game of Risk?

Defender: **Confidently** "Bam, I rolled a 6."

Attacker: "I roll a 7. I win."

Defender: **Crestfallen** "... but... but... I rolled a 6... I'm defending :-( "

Attacker: "Yes, and I rolled a 7. Pick him up. It's my land now!"

Certain situations let you roll 8-sided dice. The mighty defender-6 is no longer the last word in combat. The defending-8 on the other hand, well...
  • This version of Risk lets you use intersting phrases, such as, "I'm going to attack Western Austrailia... FROM THE MOON!!!". Yes, The moon. All those guys on Siam are looking mighty useless about now, huh Napolean?

One last thing, if anyone reading this blog has any old 1970's edition of Risk, could you dig up the rules for me? there was a dispute about when you have to delcare how many dice you're rolling. In every game I've played, this must be decided before you roll, but my host thinks differently. After the rules confirmed his wrongness, he claimed that they changed the rules in later editions. Has anyone else seen this rule before? I learned to play on a 1980's game where the pieces where all roman numerals (the best pieces were the roman numerals, IMO) but he played on an earlier version with the plastic 'y' and '*' shaped pieces. If you've seen them, you know what I'm talking about. Also, check for any rule about how one has to place bonus armies gained from controling a continent onto that continent only.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentines Day

Since I made the Exodus about 4 months ago, 3 pairs of my friends have entered into relationships. One pair was a long time in coming; myself and about, oh... 20+ people waited impatiently for this relationship to get started.

The other two pairs came as a shock to me, and makes me think about the interactions and events that weave around each other, entangling other people and eventually lead up to Big Things happening in my friends lives.

As this happened within the first 3 months that I had left Pittsburgh, I can now all but prove that I have an Circle of Protection: Romance, centered on myself that's 10 miles in diameter.

Anyway, Congratulations, guys on your new found love! Hope your V-Days are a blast!

And my condolences to my other friend... Sorry, slick, but you really should keep away from anyone that we think would make good Goblin Breeding Stock.

Monday, February 11, 2008


So, I've been talking to some old timers around here, and I got the long term perspective on the weather. Here's the pattern: Wyoming winters operate on a 15-20 year cycle that go from "Worst Winter in 15 years" to "bad, not as bad as last year" to "ah, nice and mild" to "Um... shouldn't it be snowing, or something?" From what people have told me, this is the worst winter for driving in a LONG time, and for the thrity-somethings, this is the worst winter since they were in high school. I timed this move perfectly, so it seems. But hope remains...

...For at last, we have had tempatures above 32 degrees. Those piles of snow that have been sitting around since december are starting to get softer, smaller, more fluid. I did some laundry yesterday and while it was spinning around in the dryer, I went outside to take a walk, some pictures, and breath of fresh air... without said air freezing the insides of my lungs. two days prior, there was an inch of ice covering just about all the local streets and roads, with only a one foot diameter patch of pavement showing. Yesterday, however, I saw this all over the place:

Road Rivers

Meltage. I walked back to the laundromat with my jacket off. On the ride home, I was able to drive with my windows rolled down for the first time since November, both becuase of the tempature AND because my windows were no longer frozen. We've still got a month or so to go before winter is truly at it's end. But for the first time, I can see the warm light glowing at the end of this frosty tunnel.

Also, check my update to my previous post, with the picutre I wanted to post with it. I promise to stop posting about the weather so often (I think this is four, just this year!), but my post count may drop, as a result. Sorry, but this really is all that goes on up here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

God has a Snow Blower

How much snow do we get up here? Hard to practically measure depth in inches or feet. I have a large bare patch on my lawn with visible dirt, that measures about 5ft in diameter. On the edge of my rental property, There is a fence with snow piled up to about the same height.

Wind + Snow = Snow Dunes

They're kinda like the sand dunes of the tundra, really. But what I want to know is in spite of the bare spot on my lawn, the constant snow blowing overtop of the roads, why in the hell does the snow pile up in my driveway every friggin day'??

UPDATE 2/11/08: Now I have a picture of it. This was taken when things began to melt, so the patch is now 15 feet in diameter instead of 5 feet. The snow dune up against the fence looks about right, though.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Scatter Shot Post - 02/02/2008 - Home Cookin'

  • I've been doing a lot of cooking recently, and have a lot of random non-sequential thoughts about the topic. You know what that means: Lock and Load!
  • As mentioned before, I'm trying to restrict my diet to mostly things I've cooked myself, or by someone I know, at least casually. So, fried chicken from the Grocery Store Deli is OK,(it's fresh everyday!), any thing that includes a packet(s) of mystery seasoning, says "ready to eat" or only needs cooked in a microwave for 90 second or less is out. My grocery shopping consists of buying ingredients, not self-contained meals.
  • Since I've been here, I have opened exactly 6 cans, 4 of which were releated to making tomato sauce or pizza sauce (more on that below) .
  • After a little over three months of doing this, here's my summary of it in a single blurb: Cooking is easy; Cooking well, not so much.
  • I only condsider a cooking expirament to be a failure if I have to throw food out due to the meal going terribly wrong. When wasting food is preferable to eating that crap, it's time to throw in the towel.
  • To date, I've had to throw something away only once, and the meal was perfectly fine the first time around. I made beer cheese soup. pretty good the first time around, but when I tried to reheat a portion of it, it separated into an oily top part, and a chewy bottom part which was like some kind of cheddar flavored chewing gum. after a few bites, I decided it wasn't worth it, and disposed of it. This is what is often refered to as a cullinary abortion.
  • Hmmm... I wonder if Wrigley can market cheese flavored gum in Japan? They eat all kinds of oddly flavored stuff, why not a pack of Cheddarmint?
  • Today, I had some difficulty in reproducing my father's tomato sauce, so I exchanged ideas with my sister. Her World of Warcraft Character is called Tomatosauce so I figured she'd know something. Eventually, I decided to add in a little more sugar, and that helped. We also exchanged a few meatball ideas. Mine didn't come out so well.
  • Even if your too lazy too cook, there are three things you can do before resorting to opening a can of Chef Boyardee: (1) A grilled cheese sandwich. There's the typical 2-3 slices of american version, but latley, I've taken a liking to this: a slice of provolone, sprinkle lightly with basil and oregano, and set a second slice of provolone on top of that. The oils from the cheese bring out the herbs, giving an Italian flavor to the sandwich. (2) You can just make some eggs. Seriously, you can't screw up an egg. Omlette, over easy, scambled, whatever. Toast some bread, and you have a a decent meal in front of you. (3) Last Resort: just have a bowl of cereal or something. The grocery store up here recently had a sale on just about all of theirs, after the markdown and manufactures coupons, I walked away with 10 boxes for $15. I don't think I'll have to buy any more until at least this Fall.
  • Cassaroles are great, becuase they can be thrown together from whatever stuff you have on hand. I put some cubed leftover chicken, some brocclli, cheese and rice together, and I ended up with dinner, and lunch for the next 5 days. Same with the Macaroni and Cheese I made.
  • One final note about the meatballs I tried to make today: while searching for meatball recipies, i came upon recipes for Sweedish meatballs, which inevitably, let to me rediscovering a Childhood memory of mine.

Bork. Bork. Bork!

Like the NY Times Food Critic, But With Food Stamps!

So, by clicking blogroll links through a few different websites, I came to this blog called The Impulsive Buy where two guys pick up highly processed instant foodstuffs, sugary soft drinks, and various novelty candy/consumables and judge them while they draw parelells to their lovelives, highschool memories, and other (hopefully fabricated?) dark secrets of their past.
Here's a descirption of their blog's focus:

The Impulsive Buy is dedicated to providing quasi-reviews about various consumer goods. Each review goes off on some tangent, but almost always comes back to complete the review. If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be a quasi-review website. Instead we would be some quasi-babbling website.

The Impulsive Buy USUALLY posts five four three two reviews a week. About one in every fifty are actually any good. he staff of The Impulsive Buy are not experts, but they do like to try anything that has any of the following words on the product: new, improved, new and improved, better tasting, reconditioned, less fat, fat-free, best-selling, less calories, reduced for quick sale, limited edition, free toy, 50% off, or now with Olestra.

I read several of their reviews and laughed out loud. I'm not using the intertubes 'LOL' short hand here becuase my laughs requires emphasis. I had to stop reading for a moment because I had tears in my eyes from laughing. Click through and just keep reading. (warning: some of this is a bit lowbrow.)