Allison and I watch a lot of television shows while eating. As we started to run out of “real” TV shows to watch, I started to watch Anime and Allison didn’t seem to mind. This means I’ve actually gotten the time to watch anime from 2012 while simultaneously fulfilling my “spend time with Allison” daily quota.
Fate/Zero is supposed to be the best anime of 2012, according to several web sources and a random candidate I interviewed at work. When it first came out I was very hesitant to watch it as it’s a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, an anime I consider to be awful. However, having heard all the great reviews, I finally watched it and was very pleased by the results.
So the story is essentially the same as the original, 7 masters summon heroic spirts of the past to fight to the death over the Holy Grail, an object that can supposedly grant wishes. The only difference is that it’s executed ten times better. The animation is top notch, with everything looking crisp and detailed. There were some fantastic and memorable scenes, like the fight between Emiya and Kotomine and of course all the Noble Phantasms.
The biggest improvement over the original anime was just how much more serious everyone was about the entire ordeal. The #1 thing in the original anime that pissed me off was that every master was essentially a random highscool kid or some other irrelevant character. In Fate/Zero, most of the masters are adult mages who have trained for years to prepare for this event. I cannot stress how much of a difference this makes in the overall feeling of the anime. It adds so much impact to the motivation and tone of the story, compared to a bunch of kids that randomly got dragged into a fight. Fate/Stay Night would never have serial murdering of small children but an atrocity like that completely fits the tone and motivation of the characters in Fate/Zero. And yes, there are a lot of little kids getting killed in this. It sounds awful but it fits and I’m glad they didn’t shy away from something like that simply because it’s too shocking.
The main characters are very well developed, and Emiya Kiritsugu has a fantastic back story and personality. I really liked the direction they took with the main character, as he would frequently shock you with his brutality, yet it would always fall into his “ends justify the means” philosophy. What was really fun was looking at the wiki and reading about the real-life characters that the heroic spirits were based off of. I was surprised how much actual history went into recreating the personalities and motivations of the heroic spirits.
Unfortunately, Fate/Zero is still plagued by the annoying fact that it has to be 25 episodes. Thus, we get to see people employ the “teleport away before I lose so that we can drag the fight on to another episode.” There are probably 3-4 times when two people decide to not finish the fight because it’s not honorable, it’s unfair, or they’re just tired.
Regardless, I was very pleased with Fate/Zero overall. The fantastic action and engaging story make up for the anime dragging it’s feet. It’s definitely a must watch and one of the best animes I’ve seen in the last few years.
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We’ve been neglecting BaconFriedRice for a while. Since I’ve started my new job, we’ve been really busy. Jack and I work at the same place now, so we end up staying later than we want, as often I’ll be waiting for Jack to finish something, but by the time he’s done I’ll be in the middle of something, and so on…
This also makes it hard to make things for each other for our anniversary, since we leave for work together, are at work together all day, and come home from work together. No time to work on secret presents!
Now that I’ve made my excuses, here is all I was able to give Jack. I was stuck at work until midnight last night waiting for him to finish, so I didn’t have many supplies. I even ran out of lead for my pencil, and all I could find were whiteboard markers and highlighters, so I just stuck with my pen. It’s also unfinished, since he came back before I was done.
Jack gave me this: Piggy as an Assassin! Based on Ezio.
And now, our late Halloween pictures. I was based on the splash screen of one of Storm8‘s games, Castle Story.
And Jack was Faust from Guilty Gear:
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We moved to a new apartment on Saturday. That night, we heard this annoying periodic beeping, so Jack went to check out what it was and turn it off.
This is the security system that is in our apartment.
See that long On / Off button? Doesn’t it look like the top would be On, and the bottom would be Off? Jack pushed Off just in case it was the security system making the beeping.
Instead, he accidentally turned the motion sensor on, and set it off at midnight. It was going for around 10 minutes before he finally managed to get the alarm to shut up (no one had told us the passcode when we moved in). Thank god it’s not connected to the police department!
This system is so poorly designed – apparently that long button is actually an On/Off toggle button, so instead of turning it off, Jack turned it on. First of all, why would you make it an extra-long button and label the top and bottom separately if the entire button does one thing? That is not intuitive at all. Why wouldn’t they be separate On and Off buttons, to make it clear? Furthermore, why can you turn on the alarm system without a passcode? The system in our old house in Virginia required a passcode both to turn the system on and off – no chance of accidentally turning it on!
In addition, my friend Rosemary had the following to add to the list of how terribly unclear this system is:
- What in the world does FUNCTION do?
- And what about BYPASS? Does that mean you can bypass the system without a passcode?
- RESET? INTERIOR? INSTANT?
- Is the phone number for customer service or emergency information?
- What does that warning light mean? Was there a break-in? Or is there an error with the system? 12 errors?
- What do all the numbers mean?
- Why in the world do the 7, 8, and 9 buttons spell FAP?
In other news, we are settling in to the apartment. The first few days, we kept the cats in the bedroom so that they wouldn’t get in the way while we rearranged and unpacked all our items. Unfortunately, Jokulhaups is TOO SMART and figured out how to open the door.
Apologies for how blurry the photo is.
We ended up having to tie the bedroom door handle to the bathroom door handle so he couldn’t pull the door open.
Since I haven’t started my new job yet, I spend the days following the kitties around with a spray bottle and teaching them where they’re not allowed to be. Jokulhaups has already figured out how to open the cabinets and drawers in this apartment. In the old apartment, we Velcroed the cabinets shut, and he was still strong enough to open them. In this apartment, there isn’t enough overlap between the cabinet body and cabinet door to add Velcro – I have no idea what we’re going to do!
When we took them to the vet, Dragon was weighed at 8 pounds, and Jokulhaups at 15 (the doctor said he isn’t overweight though). He’s almost twice her weight!
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I’d been hearing bits and pieces about Jiro Dreams of Sushi for a while and drooled over the trailer a few times, but never really got around to watching it despite its 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. Last week, however, a foodie friend posted about it on Facebook, and I ended up having some good sashimi on Sunday, so I finally decided I need to watch this!
The first thing I have to mention is that the order of the topics in the movie didn’t completely make sense to me. I was typing some interesting points on my phone as I was watching, and reading back on them now, they seem kind of random. They would bring up Jiro’s sons, then talk about daily fish purchases, mention his apprentices, talk about his personal life again, then talk about his daily rice purchases… I’m going to reorder topics in this post in a way that makes more sense to me!
I never realized so much went into sushi – or perhaps this much only goes into really good sushi. I liked watching his hand movements while sculpting a piece of sushi, as they were very deliberate and consistent, but also very artistic and beautiful. I’ve commonly seen people in the US mix wasabi into their soy sauce and dip the sushi in, but from what I’ve read and heard, that’s not the “accepted” method in Japan. In the movie Jiro put wasabi between the fish and the rice, then brushed soy sauce on top, and it was expected that you just eat the entire piece of sushi in one bite as is. It puts so much trust and pressure on the chef to prepare food perfectly the way everyone enjoys!
It looks like it would be intimidating and maybe a bit awkward to eat there – he places one piece at a time on a plate in front of you, so you have to keep up with his meal pace, and he is always there in front of you. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t like one of them – I wouldn’t want to show it to him, and I’d have to eat it since the meal is so expensive (over 300 US dollars)!
I had never thought about where the fish comes from before. One of my favorite parts of this movie was when they talked to the tuna dealer. I find it so interesting that he specializes in tuna – all he does all day is select, buy, clean, and sell tuna. The dealer said he could tell if the tuna will taste good by its texture – I can’t even imagine knowing anything so well. The tuna auction looked so chaotic but exciting at the same time, and it was neat to see all the huge tuna lined up on the floor.
Shrimp, octopus, rice… everything they select and buy in the morning for that day! He said that they massage the octopus for 40-50 minutes – it blows my mind that they pay that much attention to everything, just to serve one small piece of each type of sushi to each person. I wonder if the octopus was alive while massaging though… and if not, if they massage before or after cooking. They were slicing the eel while it was still alive; they staked it behind its head to the cutting board then sliced the body in half.
The movie mentioned that apprentices are under Jiro for 10 years. For how much of a perfectionist the movie kept painting him as, he wasn’t as mean or strict to the apprentices as I expected – unless he acted differently for the movie, of course. I don’t think I would be able to handle doing the same thing every day all day for 10 years. With my personality, I can’t handle doing the same things every day! The biggest thing that caught my attention, though, is that the apprentice said that one of the last things they are allowed to do is to make the egg sushi. The highest honor isn’t even to make sushi involving fish! I am now certain I don’t understand the art of sushi at all.
The one thing that irritated me about this movie, though, was gender bias, both by Jiro and in the focus of the movie itself. At one point he tells his customers that he makes smaller pieces of sushi for the females, so that the meal moves at a consistent pace and everyone finishes pieces at the same time. Such bullshit! I want just as much sushi as anyone else. And some women can eat more than some men. I understand Japanese culture does still put more emphasis on sons and child order (his oldest son is still working under him since he is expected to take over for his father, but his second son got to open his own separate restaurant), but I thought Jiro himself might not be as traditional, since at one point, he says something like, “Why should I respect my parents, they never did anything for me!”. The movie never mentions his mother or wife, and Jiro himself only mentions his wife once. In fact, I’m still not sure if she is alive or not. I googled “Jiro Ono wife” to find out and I just got a bunch of reviews talking about the lack of mention about those two females in his life.
Overall, a very enjoyable mouth-watering movie. I need to go have some sushi this week now.
Like Mew2King, I take games very seriously. While this usually applies to video games, I carry it over very much to drinking games. Some people take drinking to be a relaxing, social activity with friends. When I drink, I want to play games and I play to win. I hate sitting around casually drinking, just like I hate sitting around playing the Wii. It’s the reason I’ve spent so much time reading video game strategies and analysis online, and why I spent multiple hours in the basement of my college house shooting a ping pong ball into a cup of water.
One of the things I frequently think about while drinking is the design behind the games. I’ve often considered the different aspects that make a game fun and exciting, and also examine what elements detract from the overall experience. This includes not only actual in-game factors, but also the logistics and setup behind it.
Easy learning curve
People are generally stupid and drunk people are generally more stupid. A lot of people are unable to recognize simple gaming elements and put together logical patterns. Therefore, the rules of any drinking game need to be simple and the actions relatively easy to do. Drinking Magic the gathering might be great, but trying to explain to someone how the stack works is not going to go over well.
Accommodating a flexible number of players
Drinking typically happens in a group of people, and it’s important that the number of participants in any game is flexible. Nobody wants to be left out and forced to “wait” till the next round. Games like Beer Pong suffer from this problem, as you are typically limited to 4 players, which is almost never enough.
Allow players to enter and exit with no break in action
One of the inevitable truths of drinking is that all that liquid has to go somewhere. The other inevitable truth of drinking is that drunk people can’t focus and are easily distracted. A players that needs to step out for any reason should never stop the game. This is another problem I have with Beer Pong, is that if a player leaves or gets distracted, you can not continue until they shoot.
Losers should be punished more
The losing team should drink more than the winning team. Flip cup is one of the most terrible games I’ve ever played because the winning team ends up drinking more than the losing team.
The amount you drink must be a pre-defined constant. This means no “sips” or “seconds” or “gulps”. A cup is filled with a quantity of liquid, and that cup must be finished completely. The point of a drinking game is to force drinking when one would rather not. If you give players control over how much they can drink, you inevitably will have someone lift their cup to drink for 10 seconds and the level of liquid remains the same before and after.
Luck and Skill
A game should require some sort of skill, whether it be mental sharpness, a quick reaction, or good hand eye coordination. However, there must also be a high level of luck, so the game is accessible to new players and is not utterly dominated by veterans. Nobody wants to play drinking chess (although drinking bug house could be pretty good). Beer pong actually one of the best games in this aspect, as even the best beer pong players I’ve met in my life could never get very high shooting percentage.
Opportunity for low chance but high impact actions
Drunk people are easily stimulated and the human brain tends to remember the exceptions to the norm. Having an action where players fail 90% of the time is good, because after the night is over, all people will talk about is that 10%. Things like redemption in beer pong fall perfectly into this category.
Creating a sense of rivalry and competition
Games should allow one player to target another and also allow players to team up against one person. This creates drama and tension, which can add additional excitement and competitiveness to normally tame people.
No night ending penalties
It is better to have multiple small losses than one large loss. Losers should end the night having drank more, but in a gradual and controlled way. Having super large punishments (like a King’s cup) just results in people passing out or vomiting.
So given this set of elements, what game is optimal?
The Pinnacle of Design
I lived for a few years with players from the CMU Rugby Team, and there is only one useful thing I can pull from that experience. They played a variation of Quarters where players sit around a table with 2 shot glasses, a central glass of alcohol, a refilling pitcher, and some quarters. 2 players attempt to bounce a quarter off the table into the glass, and when successful, pass the shot glass to their left. If a shot glass is passed to you while you still have a glass, the glasses are stacked and you have 1 chance to make this double shot. If you do, the double stack is passed to your left for the next player to make. As soon as you miss the double shot, the player to your left takes the top glass and continues shooting. You must then drink the central cup, refill it, and then continue shooting. If you manage to bounce the quarter into the shot glass on your first shot, you can pass it to anyone not already holding a shot glass.
Why is this game so well designed? Outside of some hardware requirements (a table, 2 shot glasses, and quarters) it satisfies every single positive aspect I listed above. The game can accommodate any number of players from 4 up to 10+ by simply adding a 3rd or 4th shot glass into the rotation. Individual players can leave and re-enter the game at any point and the rotation continues like normal. The game has a standardize central cup as a penalty, and players can fill it as much or as little as they want, allowing for extremely tense moments when a full cup is at stake. The game is very skill based, but luck still players a heavy part in the bounce. The double stack shot provides constant chances for a “low chance, high impact” moment for everyone to cheer at. Passing the glass to anyone if you make it on your first shot allows you to target specific players.
I’ve played a very wide range of drinking games and I’ve found that this variation of Quarters provides the highest combination of entertainment, competitiveness, drama, and fun. Try it out some time if you’ve never experienced it, and I’m certain you’ll agree with me. And on another note, I have my Quarters table ready anytime someone wants to come play. Yes, I went to Ikea and bounced quarters on every one of their tables until I found the optimal one to buy.
I finished Diablo 3 on normal with Allison. I was playing a Barbarian and she was playing a Wizard.
All I can say is that normal mode is repetative and boring, with little to no challenge. It is like playing World of Warcraft except they took out all the interesting elements and left in the boring grinding.
The game is unreasonably simple. WoW was already pretty mundane because you never really needed more than 7 or 8 of your skills. Diablo 3 decided to limit you to 6 skills, and you probably only need 3-4. In the case of my Barbarian, I could get away with just 3 skills for normal mobs. The entire time you fight things you just left click nonstop and everything dies in front of you.
Bosses were pretty much big trash mobs with more HP. I didn’t find a single boss interesting or unique, and almost all of them involved just standing in place and left clicking them until they died. For example, when we faced Diablo, the final boss in the game, I was grouped with two other wizards. Somehow, both of my companions died and I was left soloing a final boss that was buffed to handle 3 people. I quickly modified my strategy to stand in one place and left click him. Sometimes, I would shift to the left a few inches to avoid a red circle on the floor. Every now and then, he would grab me and take me to under half health. I pop a 15s cooldown shield wall and lifesteal back to full. Having no party members actually made it somewhat easier, as Diablo stayed in place instead of chasing after the other 2 people. After a few minutes, Diablo died and I beat the game, without even using 2 of my long cooldown skills which I was saving in case I came close to dying.
Overall, I don’t find Diablo 3 to be particularly interesting. However, I feel that I might continue playing it solely because my friends are playing it. I also assume that nightmare will be more interesting.
I decided to use the new HTML5 “search” input type with a placeholder. I think it’s neat – in Chrome and Safari, when you type something, there is an “x” added you can click to clear the text. Placeholder works in my Chrome, Safari, Firefox, and Opera, but not IE (was not surprised). I wanted to center the text in the search box, but “text-align: center” didn’t seem to affect the placeholder text for Safari. I found a “::-webkit-input-placeholder” selector, but unfortunately, “text-align: center” on the placeholder text specifically still didn’t work. It was odd to have the placeholder text left-aligned, but the text typed in centered, so I decided to just leave the text left-aligned.
It was also pretty annoying trying to style the input box in the first place, because nothing seemed to affect the style in Chrome or Safari. I found a Stack Overflow question that was pretty enlightening: HTML5 Search Input: No Background Image in Chrome? Apparently, the browsers that support the “search” input type (WebKit – Chrome and Safari) apply their own special styling, which is not currently accessible. The other browsers don’t support “search”, so they just style the input like normal “text” types. A solution in the answers was to use ”-webkit-appearance: none” to clear the default styling. Worked for me!
Also made my little icons and author icons into sprite sheets (except the search ones – I think you won’t be able to see the second search one because it’s black), plus a favicon (look up)!
I think I’ll be editing the third (largest) layout version, based on feedback. Not sure what I’ll do yet.
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I decided to do the Evernote Cook-Along today. Unluckily (or luckily?) Jack is out of town, so I ate all of the crepes myself!
Here is my Evernote Food note about it. And here are two of the photos from the note!
Mommy, I’d like some of your bacon egg and cheese crepe!
For dessert: Nutella and bananas crepe!
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I’m finally redesigning this site! I’m putting it on GitHub for version control, but also because I think it’s neat to be able to learn from others’ source code. Here is the repository. In addition to fully commenting everything, I’m keeping notes on sites I find really useful while I’m working on this.
I’m attempting a responsive design (read Responsive Web Design! It’s awesome). I’ve decided to do basic layout structuring for three different layouts (small, normal, big) in stand-alone stylesheets first, then build up with media queries from the small one to the big one (my attempt at mobile-first). So far I’ve done the normal and the small. Next is to do the big layout, then combine them into one stylesheet with media queries so it’s actually responsive. Then, add real styles instead of this ugly temporary yellow boxy look. And finally… the part I’m unsure about… is integrating this with WordPress. We’ll see!
I really like Media Queries, which is where I’m getting a lot of inspiration for responsive designs. I’ve taken to resizing nearly every site I come across now, to see if it’s responsive. That’s how I found the awesome little detail on CSS-Tricks – the narrower the width, the more worried the frog gets! See for yourself!
I also wanted to note that HTML5 Boilerplate is awesome. I’m not using it, because it’s a little too full-featured for me (I want to learn and start from the basics on my own instead of using a whole pre-built structure right now), but the comments in it are so useful and great to learn from. I’m starting reading source code a lot more lately. Which reminds me, I remember back when I was playing around with websites in middle school, there was that trend of disallowing right-click so that people couldn’t “steal” images or source code… Things have changed so much now, there are even ads in source code! Check it out – look at this source code of Blacktie. I have no idea what that site is (I found it through HTML5 Gallery), and I found that source code ad on accident, but I think it’s awesome despite the fact that it’s an ad. It’s an interesting way to get to your target audience!
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