Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Today's Adventures

Today we went up to visit my parents.

We picked up our copy of the Star Trek Chrononauts game.  While I haven't even finished exploring the contents, I already love the hell out of it just from reading some of the cards.  :D  Of particular note for accessibility: this version offers several levels of difficulty in character cards.  While the instructions recommend that you start out with everyone playing the same level, they also allow you to mix levels in case you have players of different skill levels.  I award copious bonus points for anticipating this common circumstance and including canonical game mechanics to address it so that players do not have to patch it at home.  If you are a fan of Squa Tront (minority opinion) in the original Chrononauts game, I call your attention to the high-level characters.  If you despise Squa Tront (majority opinion), you will probably prefer to play a lower level.  I particularly enjoy Squa Tront when I feel like hurling the planet into the sun.

One of the places we stopped was World Harvest, where we bought a chocolate bar: Pacari Organic Chocolate with Andean Rose (60% cocoa). That's in the "dark milk chocolate" range, and a little darker than I find optimum, but it works. It has a very strong rose scent and definite rose flavor. As much as I enjoyed eating it out of hand, I immediately thought of things like chopping it into Valentine's cookies, and my partner Doug suggested making a molten lava cake with it. <3 Highly recommended.

That reminds me of a couple other edibles I have enjoyed recently.

Green Giant protein bowls are highly nutritious, reasonably affordable, and fast to heat up. Of the four flavors, I like the Italian and my partner Doug goes for the Southwest. All of them contain a mixture of grains and legumes as the base plus other vegetables and spices for flavor. They are vegetarian, but you could certainly add meat if you want to. Recommended.

Seeds of Change makes Seven Whole Grains pouches. As it says on the label, the pouch contains Long Grain Brown Rice, Barley, Rye, Bulgar, Red Winter Wheat, Quinoa, and Wild Rice plus spices. It has a general sort of spiced-grain flavor. It is organic and free of obnoxious ingredients. It microwaves in 90 seconds. This is probably the healthiest, and one of the tastiest, convenience foods I've encountered. It is also pretty cheap. We typically add meat to it. I think we tried chicken and shrimp earlier, and yesterday we put in carnita pork. They all work. You could add vegetables if you like. Highly recommended. By the way, there are also a bunch of other combinations, but I didn't see much point in switching down from 7 grains to 1-2 when we like this version. If you want more variety, by all means try the others.

Then we went out to Mom and Dad's place. I dropped off the poetry batch, already paid for, so I'll get to posting these when I have the energy:
"All That Was Great in the Past"
"The Same Sky at the Same Time"

Bulb haul: I have a bag of tulips, I think 50. I have two bags of mixed narcissus, 50 in one and 100 in the other. I have a crapton of planting to do and the ground is bricked. I don't know, some problems are nice to have? LOL nature.

The television was on. In two separate documentaries I saw two utterly awesome things.

1) Remember all the times I've told people that liquefaction is BAD and building on a killzone is BAD? And how the West Coast has several towns like Ocean Shores and Seaside that will basically slide into the ocean during a quake? There is a demo that makes it screamingly obvious why liquefaction is a terrifying disaster. It is cheap and portable. Take an aquarium. Put in several inches of wet sand sculpted into a landscape. Upon the sand place an aquarium ornament. Our host used a ruins model -- I think the same one I have, in fact -- but I would use a hospital or whatever else I was trying to convince people not to build on sand. Then you take a rubber mallet and gently tap the side of the tank. Apparently it doesn't take a big earthquake to liquefy sand; a small one can do the trick. (Heavy rain can also cause liquefaction.) Watch the model tilt and sink. So if you ever need to do a presentation on construction safety, urban planning, liquefaction, etc. then I highly recommend this demo. It should make sense even to idiots who think building on sand is somehow a good idea, and many people are more moved by visual demos than by verbal descriptions.

2) People who have spent decades studying the Antikythera Machine have figured out a lot of what it could do. \o/ They mapped the gears and modeled them, and finally got around to mapping and reading the instructions. (Yes, it has instructions printed on it. They were clearly visible, though not very legible until heavily processed.) It is, as I said when I first looked at it, a mechanical computer; and I was also right about it being an astronomical tool, sort of a flattened orrery that simulates the motion of heavenly bodies with gears to calculate what would be happening in a certain year. I wasn't sure it what it might have said, though, and one of its outputs is eclipse timing. Evidently someone made a (much bigger) version in Lego. Watching more and more details emerge as technology improves has been very exciting.

However,I should like to point out a couple of crucial things about archaeology:

A) If you discover a device that you don't know what it does, and it has writing on it, RTFM.

B) Never estimate the technological level of an ancient civilization at the level of found artifacts. It is consistently at least a level or two higher. You will almost never find the cutting edge because there are not enough unique or rare items to survive the reduction rate of history and remain in the archaeological record. (By all means if you find a whole, instantly-preserved town then excavate searching for centers of learning to see if you can find the cutting edge. Somewhat more often you'll find text descriptions, like the Mirror of Archimedes. As with any gizmology or super-gizmology, they are difficult or impossible for anyone else to reproduce.) But every once in a while, something like the Antikythera Machine or the Baghdad Battery emerges much more advanced than the stuff in the street. For fucksake, is what's on your street at the level a military black-book fighter jet? Or even a NASA renderfarm? Almost certainly not. So look at the examples we've found by rare luck, calculate the difference between that and the common record of their societies, and use that to estimate how far ahead of archaeological record someone's cutting edge probably was.

We ate supper at Fujiyama, which has expanded their menu a bit. We all recommend the tuna tataki, a seared (mostly rare) tuna steak generously spiced and sliced thin. It's zesty enough I could only eat a couple slices, but the rest was quickly devoured by everyone else. This is fine to split as an appetizer, but it actually is a tuna steak, so you could definitely order that as an entree and get a side of fried rice or whatever.

After that, we did grocery shopping at a couple of places, finding most of what we needed. Harvest Market had a large and excellent selection of winter squash. We grabbed a carnival squash for later. They had goldenberries again too. :D (If you find goldenberries, smell them. It is important to choose ones that smell intensely of tropical fruit and flowers, and that is how they will taste based on my experience. If they smell like tomatoes, other people say they will taste like tomatoes, as they are closely related to tomatillos. Though the latter might work fine in a recipe for tomatillos.) They also had mangosteen. I was tempted, but instead of last year's $10/bag they are now $2/each. I'm sure many more people will gamble $2 to try one, but it's unaffordable to buy more than a sample. >_< Anyhow, the Queen of Fruit is a most delectable dish if you can find it. Most highly recommended. I was tempted to buy a lot more exotic fruit, but I'd already gotten 2 cartons' worth, so I dragged myself away from the rest. Something else I spotted while hunting for alfalfa sprouts, but didn't get this time, was red clover sprouts. My gatherer-memory went "Holy shit, clover seedlings without having to spend all day digging and washing the damn things! I have no idea if they'd taste good to this body, but I'd love to try some time. :D

So that was a productive day. \o/
Tags: food, gardening, illinois, nature, personal
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