Earth vs Soup

So, I tried to make some soup last night, and things got a little out of control.  It turns out, however, that it’s pretty much impossible to screw up soup.

I stopped by the grocery store on the way home yesterday to buy some veggies, and used some chicken stock I had in the cupboard at home.  I bought the stock a long, long time ago with the intention of making soup, but I never got around to it until now.  The stock was a month past its best before date, but it didn’t taste off.  It was a little less than two cups worth.

I thought I had a raw chicken breast frozen at home so I didn’t buy any at the store.  When I got home, however, I discovered that I did not.  Instead, I ended up using a pre-seasoned frozen chicken breast.While the chicken breast was boiling in the broth, I cut up a handful of baby carrots and let that all sit covered for a bit.  Then I measured out a little rice and dropped that in, too.  The soup smelled very “carroty” by then, and it looked like I put way too much in, so I fished some carrots out with a strainer.

I took the chicken breast out as it has mostly cooked through, and then I added some mini seashell pasta.  I went to cut up the chicken breast and it basically fell apart.  I guess the marinade and seasoning they used for the chicken really softened it up.  I ended up cutting it into chunks and shreds, then tossed that back in a bit later.

After a few more minutes, I added onion and celery.  At this point I realized I had put in way too much rice and pasta, so I added another cup of water.

After some more cooking, I added some slices of a red bell pepper and a can of sliced mushrooms.  I was putting too much of every ingredient in, so I added another cup of water.

At this point, I had to transfer the soup (stew?) into a larger pot.  I was just going crazy, throwing everything I had on hand into the soup.

I eventually added two more cups of water, half a small can of tomato paste, a teaspoon of salt, and a variety of seasonings.  I figured I was somehow making a chicken gumbo, so I put some Cajun seasoning into it.

By this time, the carrots were nice and soft, but the celery was still a little too hard.  I covered the whole thing and let it simmer for a good long while to get the celery to soften up.  Two more cups of water were needed again at the end to thin the soup out.

In the end, my endeavor resulted in four times the amount of soup I originally expected, and it actually tasted really, really good.  It honestly tastes like it could be one of those delicious newer Campbell’s Chunky Soup flavors.

 homemadesoup

I believe this are all the ingredients that went into my soup:

  • 2 cups of chicken soup stock
  • 6 cups of water (may vary)
  • 1 Mediterranean seasoned chicken breast (from a 900g box of frozen breasts, can’t remember the brand)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of sliced baby carrots (not sure how much)
  • 1/2 a celery stick, sliced
  • 1/4 of a medium-sized red bell pepper
  • 1 slice of medium-sized red onion, diced (maybe too little?)
  • 1/3 cup of long grain rice
  • 1/3 cup of mini pasta shells
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • two pinches of dried oregano
  • two pinches of dried basil
  • a small amount of Club House La Grille Spicy Pepper Medley seasoning (two or three light shakes)
  • a little-more-than-a-small amount of Club House Cajun seasoning (a teaspoon?  tablespoon?)
  • approx 75g, or half a small tin (smallest tin I could find, slightly smaller than other small tins) of tomato paste
  • a can of sliced mushrooms, drained

(Earth vs Soup??)

Special Effects & Hoax Debunking

Captain Disillusion on YouTube deserves more subscribers.  He does a great job of explaining special effects and debunking hoaxes in a very entertaining way.  It’s a crime that he has only 100k subscribers.

“In a world where the content of digital images and videos can no longer be taken at face value, an unlikely hero fights for the acceptance of truth.

Captain Disillusion guides children of all ages through the maze of visual fakery to the open spaces of reality and peace of mind.”

And I just discovered he has his own website, too.

captaindisillusion

X-Wing Miniatures: Death Star Assault

This past New Year’s Eve, I hosted an epic session of the X-wing: Miniatures Game using the Death Star Trench play mat that my friends and I recently built.

Here are the rules we made up for the scenario:

Rebels (3 players):

The Rebels had four groups of three X-wings and two groups of three Y-wings.  Only three groups could be in play at a time.  When one group is wiped out, another group can enter play. Each group is worth 80 points.

The Rebels win when they successfully blow up the Death Star.

The specific Rebel groups are as follows:

Rebel Group 1

  • Luke Skywalker, R2-D2
  • Red Squadron Pilot, R2-D6, Adrenaline Rush
  • Rookie Pilot, R5-K6

Rebel Group 2

  • Wedge Antilles, R3-A2, Hull Upgrade
  • Red Squadron Pilot, R2 Astromech
  • Rookie Pilot, R2 Astromech

Rebel Group 3

  • Jek Porkins, R2 Astromech, Daredevil
  • Biggs Darklighter, R2-F2
  • Rookie Pilot, R2 Astromech

Rebel Group 4

  • Garven Dreis, R2 Astromech
  • Red Squadron Pilot, R2 Astromech, Ion Torpedo
  • Red Squadron Pilot, R2 Astromech

Rebel Group 5

  • Horton Salm, R5 Astromech, Flechette Torpedoes
  • Gray Squadron Pilot, R2 Astromech, Ion Cannon Turret
  • Gray Squadron Pilot, R2 Astromech, Ion Cannon Turret

Rebel Group 6

  • “Dutch” Vander, R5 Astromech, Ion Cannon Turret
  • Gold Squadron Pilot, R5-D9, Ion Cannon Turret
  • Gold Squadron Pilot, R5-P9, Blaster Turret

 

Empire (3 players):

The Empire had unlimited number of Black Squadron TIE Fighter groups.  Each group consisted of four TIEs and is worth 80 points.  Only two groups could be in play at a time.

The Empire also had a special group consisting of Vader, Backstabber, and Mauler Mithel (also worth 80 points).  This group enters play in the trench the next turn after the first Rebels enter the trench.

Lastly, the Imperials had eight turbo laser towers, each placed at least range 2 from any other tower.  Each turbo laser tower could fire in a 360° arc at ranges 2-3 with an attack power of 4.  Any crits scored by a tower is changed ti a hit.  The towers have 4 hull, no shields, no evades, and could not take critical hits (any crits rolled against them are changed to regular hits).  Ships defending against turbo laser fire double their agility when making their evade rolls.  Colliding with a turbo laser tower causes two attack dice worth of damage to be rolled against both the colliding ship and the tower.

To activate the turbo laser towers, the Death Star generates 5 energy at the start of every round.  The energy can be secretly allocated to any turbo laser tower before any ships move.  Up to 2 energy can be allocated per tower per turn, and each tower can store a maximum of 4 energy.  The turbo laser towers fire after all other ships have fired, and each tower requires 2 stored energy to fire once, after which 2 stored energy is expended.  If a turbo laser is hit with any ion weapon, it loses all its stored energy.

If a turbo laser is destroyed, it remains an obstacle.

The Imperials win when all Rebel ships are destroyed.

The specific Imperial groups are as follows:

Vader’s Group

  • Darth Vader, Proton Rockets, Determination, Engine Upgrade
  • Mauler Mithel, Opportunist, Hull Upgrade
  • Backstabber, Hull Upgrade

Black Squadron 1

  • Black Squadron Pilot, Elusiveness, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Expert Handling, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Ruthlessness, Engine Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Predator, Engine Upgrade

Black Squadron 2

  • Black Squadron Pilot, Wingman, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Expert Handling, Engine Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Outmaneuver, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Opportunist, Hull Upgrade

Black Squadron 3

  • Black Squadron Pilot, Elusiveness, Engine Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Predator, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Wingman, Engine Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Marksmanship, Hull Upgrade

Black Squadron 4

  • Black Squadron Pilot, Push the Limit, Engine Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Ruthlessness, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Draw Their Fire, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Marksmanship, Engine Upgrade

Black Squadron 5

  • Black Squadron Pilot, Push the Limit, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Outmaneuver, Engine Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Intimidation, Hull Upgrade
  • Black Squadron Pilot, Daredevil, Hull Upgrade

The Imperial players can choose any Black Squadron group to start with and to use as unlimited reinforcements.

 

Play:

The Rebels deploy on the surface at the end of the play area with the exhaust port.  The Imperials deploy on the opposite side.  The Rebels must fly the entire length of the surface and off the Imperial edge of the board in order to enter the trench.  When any ship flies off the Imperial edge of the board, it is taken out of play until the next round where it appears anywhere along the trench during the activation phase and immediately executes its maneuver.

While ships are in the trench, the player controlling the turbo laser towers can elect to also fire the trench guns.  The trench guns, when fired, perform a 2 dice attack on all ships — friend or foe — in the trench (each ship being attacked can evade as normal).

To exit the trench, the player must either use its action to elevate itself out of the trench or perform a koiogran turn (for the k-turn, the ship would be moved and turned about-face as normal, but it would also be elevated up above the trench).  A clear piece of acrylic is used to support ships flying above the trench.  Ships above the trench cannot shoot at ships in the trench, and vice versa.

To destroy the Death Star, a Rebel ship must target lock the exhaust port and fire a proton torpedo at it (each Rebel ship is given a free proton torpedo which is only to be used for a shot on the exhaust port).  The player must naturally roll one at least one crit plus a second hit or crit to succeed.

 

This is only the first time we’ve played this scenario we made up, so we don’t know if any rules needs to be tweaked.  It worked out really well, however, with only one X-wing making it to the exhaust port with a single hull point left, and that X-wing making a successful shot.

Here are some photos of how our game went:

xwing01

The initial setup

xwing02

The TIE Fighters advance

xwing03

Two turbo laser towers down!

xwing04

Approaching the enemy

xwing05

The fighters clash!

xwing06

Red Squadron focuses their fire

xwing07

Measuring distance to target

xwing08

The first casualties

xwing09

The Rebels break away

xwing10

Racing to enter the trench

xwing11

Black Squadron is hot on the Rebels’ tails

xwing12

Another view of the action

xwing13

Go, Rebels, go!

xwing14

View from the trench

xwing15

The first X-wings prepare to enter the trench

xwing16

More Rebels ready to start their run

xwing17

Vader appears!

xwing18

Can the Rebels make it to the exhaust port?

xwing19

Some of the Rebels hang back to give the two leads some cover

xwing20

Vader and his cohorts are tearing the Rebels to pieces!

xwing21

The fight continues on the surface as more Y-wings appear

xwing22

Looks like trouble for Gray Squadron

xwing23

Great piloting by Gray Squadron

xwing24

Back to the trench, the exhaust port is sighted and target locked

xwing25

Oh no! Only one Rebel fighter left in the trench!

xwing26

Against all odds, the lone rookie X-wing pilot fires his proton torpedo…

The dramatic results of the proton torpedo shot, in slow motion:

Herman Miller Fabric Comparison – Balance vs Rhythm

I recently received the opportunity to work from home for a couple of months. As a result, I’ve been spending a lot more time in my office chair at home, which was already in need of replacing (something I gauge by the amount of duct tape on the chair).

After being unable to find any chairs designed for a human being at the local “big box” office supply stores (i.e. Staples), I decided that maybe it was time to invest in a real office chair. So, I looked up some more professional, dedicated office furniture stores and tried out some higher-end chairs.

I was very impressed with how I was treated by every place I went, especially by Jason Mills at COI Smart Furniture on King Edward St. I went to COI Smart Furniture to check out their selection of Herman Miller chairs, the best of which, IMHO, ended up being the SAYL and the Embody chairs.

Herman Miller Embody chair

Herman Miller Embody chair

I had an Embody chair delivered to my house — for free — to try out for a week or so, to see if it suited my needs. After sitting in it for a few minutes at home (after having spent a few hours in my existing chair), I could literally feel the relief in my back. It was great. The Herman Miller Embody chair has improved my posture, and I have yet to feel any aches or pains after sitting in it for an extended period of time. Contrast that to my current office chair (a $200 generic chair from Staples) in which I am constantly adjusting my sitting position and feeling aches and pains here and there.

In doing some research on the chair before officially ordering one (I’ll not mention the exact price, but I will say it was in the four-digit range) I learned that there are two fabric options for the Herman Miller Embody chair. What little information I could find on the differences in fabrics, besides price, was either unclear or contradictory.

Thankfully, Jason Mills from COI Smart Furniture dropped off some fabric samples at my house while I was out doing some other business in the middle of the day. For the benefit of anyone else who might care, here are some comparative photos of the two fabric types: Balance and Rhythm:

A brief comparison:

Balance fabric

  • two layers of very thin fabric with a thicker, cushiony fabric in between. Approximately three times thicker, in total, than the Rhythm Fabric
  • the cushiony layer in between has holes through it to allow air to breath through the very thin top and bottom layers of fabric.
  • softer of the two fabrics

Rhythm fabric

  • single-layer of thicker fabric (but still much thinner than the combined layers of the Balance fabric)
  • stronger of the two fabrics

There’s not really much of a different feel between the two fabrics, that is, one doesn’t provide noticeably more friction than the other. The only reasons, IMO, to go with the rhythm fabric would be a) to save $150, and b) cosmetic preference.

For me, it’s really the extra padding that comes with the Balance fabric that does it; because of the fantastic level of support the chair provides, there is less softness in the seat and back, and the extra padding that comes with the Balance fabric is nice.

So, there you have it: a proper comparison between the Balance and Rhythm fabrics for the Hermal Miller Embody chair.  Why HM can’t put a simple photo on their website showing the differences between the two I don’t understand.

RC Plane With Real “Rockets”

My parents had their annual Canada Day party on Friday.  As part of the festivities that afternoon, my brother taped two fireworks onto his remote-controlled model A-10 airplane.

Model RC A-10 with Rockets

Let’s watch…

Future plans for the plane include installing an electric ignition system using the radio channel originally meant for raising and lowering the plane’s landing gear.  That should be interesting.