Sunday, July 24, 2016

YUMMY!: HelloFresh Summertime Pork Schnitzel

The last HelloFresh meal. It was pretty good. Very quick and easy too.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Police Shoot Man To Save Him??

In the midst of this crazy summer of violence comes now another police shooting. This one really baffles the fuck outta me though. Click here for the full story.

This hits home 'cause I currently am, like the shooting victim, a caregiver for mentally handicapped people. Though it's never happened, it could be that I'd be in a similar situation if one of my residents needed to be escorted on foot back to their home.

In North Miami on Wednesday, the police responded to a 911 call about two men in the street, one with a gun saying they were going to commit suicide. When the police got to the scene, they thought the autistic client sitting in the road next to his caregiver had the alleged gun. (It was a toy truck and in the video it looked like a little metal 18-wheeler) The client is screaming and periodically bringing the toy up to his eye. Yes, it did look a little like someone aiming a gun but the caregiver, lying on the ground with his hands up in the air yelled to the cops what the situation was.

Maybe because I'm experienced having worked with behavioral autistic people for many years but I could clearly see it was someone visibly handicapped who was "going off" as we used to say and exhibiting typical autistic behaviors like holding objects or hands up near his face, bringing them down, then holding them up again repeatedly over and over.

Police should be given training in this behavior as it is not uncommon. They should have been able to ascertain what was up without being told.

But they either didn't hear the caregivers explanation of the situation, maybe they were busy on their radio calling the scene in. Or maybe they simply ignored what the suspected "perp" was yelling 'cause they just didn't give a fuck.

The really bizarre thing though...or maybe "Why did they shoot the dude lying prone with his hands up instead of the other guy with what they might have thought was a gun?"

Here's why: The autistic guy looked white to me in the video maybe he wasn't but he was definitely light-skinned. His caregiver though...yup, you know it...a black dude.

Luckily the victim sustained a treatable wound to his leg and is in the hospital recovering. I really hope he gets a good lawyer and sues the fuck outta the city of North Miami.

Just like ignorance is no defense when breaking a law, ignorance is also no defense when ineptly trying to enforce the law.

YUMMY!: HelloFresh Beef Tenderloin Skewers

I added some of a green pepper I had and omitted the skewers but otherwise according to recipe. Really easy too, just prep and broil. I think the corn-on-the-cob was already pre-boiled since I'm pretty sure only 6 minutes under a broiler wouldn't be enough to make a truly raw corn cob edible.

Unfortunately, the meat became really dried out and the flavorings a bit less potent than I usually like.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

YUMMY!: HelloFresh Chicken and Nectarine Panzanella

The first of the last three meals of HelloFresh. I declined to continue my subscription last night (since it would have gone up to the regular price of $69 per week) so this week is it.

This colorful (and flavorful) salad has nectarines, arugula, mint, mozzarella, chicken and croutons tossed with a white wine and shallot vinaigrette. Oh yeah, and shavings of zucchini...meh.

It was alright. The nectarine, like last week's, was too unripened and thus was hard and not very sweet. The chicken breasts were primo though, all their meat is. Says it's from Boulder Farms. I never saw them in the supermarket but maybe I'll check them out. Might be expensive since the packaging says "range-free and natural" and all that. You know, the Whole Foods type stuff.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fuck "Pray For"

Found this image on Twitter this morning in the wake of yet another fucking violent attack on innocent people.

I think the person who put this up is as sick of this fucking cycle as I am.

So to be honest, if all you can do in response to these horrific events plaguing our world these days is ask people to Pray for the Victims, start thinking about how fucked up that is. Let's face fucking real, hard cold facts people, prayer and the belief in some mysterious unseen protector is the biggest part of the problem, not the solution. You need to wake up and realize there is no god and your continued belief that there is makes you not just an idiot, but a terrorist yourself!

Stop poisoning the minds of those around you susceptible to this shit! Especially the children! If I had my way, child protective agencies would screen parents for religious beliefs and if they practice or communicate any of these ideas at all, their kids would be removed from them immediately.

The flag at the entrance to my apartment complex just recently was raised back to full staff after being half staff for over a month now what with the shit here in town then the killings in Dallas. Well, I guess they'll have to lower it again. In these day and times, maybe we should just permanently leave it at half staff.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Pokemon Go Is "The Game"

Katch 'em all I DARE YOU!!
A Star Trek: The Next Generation episode predicted that a future technological society would have created what looks like a sophisticated augmented reality game that induced its users into a hapless state of addiction.Well,welcome to the future. I don't have it, of course, on my skanky Windows phone, but millions of other users do. And it's just a matter of time where everyone is lulled into a nirvana-like state oblivious to things occurring around them.OMG!!!!That's how Trump is doing it!!! AHHHHH!

YUMMY!: HelloFresh Pan-Seared Chicken

Here's the last of this week's dinners: Pan-Seared Chicken with Yukon Potatoes, Green Beans and Creamy Dill Sauce.

This one was just "meh." It was incredibly simple and if not for the fancy "sauce" it would have simply been plain chicken breasts with potatoes and green beans. Not exactly Haut Cuisine. I literally whipped this up in ten minutes and was just waiting the 20 other minutes for the potatoes and green beans to finish in the oven. Rachel Ray could have easily included this one in her old cooking show.

And the pics:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

YUMMY!: HelloFresh Seared Steak & Nectarine Salad

Another very good meal. I bought black pepper and olive oil so I had all the correct extras now. Again, made this exactly according to the recipe. I guess I'll do that for all the HelloFresh meals. Here again is the HelloFresh shot and mine...

This recipe seared the steak in a pan on the stove top then finished it roasting in the oven. Different. I never considered that with steak before. I still opted for a nice rare result of course, much rarer than the serving suggestion photo for sure. But that's the way I like it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

YUMMY!: HelloFresh Pork Chops

I got a discount coupon to try HelloFresh so I decided that I'd give it a go for a couple of weeks. Well yesterday my first week's box arrived and today I whipped up one of the the three meals it contained.

Pork Chops with Rosemary-Grape Salsa, Roasted Broccolini and Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

Here's the HelloFresh photo followed by my result:

Unlike most recipes, I actually followed this one exactly as written with the only deviations being canola oil instead of olive oil (that's all I had, though I would, of course, have used olive oil if I had it) and red pepper flakes instead of black pepper since I ran out.

It was absolutely delicious. The grocery items included are really high quality and I would actually continue if I could keep getting a 50% price break but unfortunately it's too expensive. Plus I don't mind grocery shopping and these recipes are free so...

Friday, July 08, 2016

Not Exactly Gobsmacked

So guess what was delivered yesterday? (Well, actually, I decided to pick it up once it got to the local UPS distribution center since it's practically in my own backyard.)

The Oculus Rift!

Despite the simple, unsympathetic "August" estimated delivery date provided on the Oculus ordering page, I got an email a few days ago saying it was coming.

So now that I have it and I've set it up and played around with it I'm in VR heaven right? Well, not exactly...

This whole unbelievably expensive and difficult ordeal has left me feeling a little bit dismayed.

First, let's start with last weekend's monster build...

The MSI Armor OC GTX 1070 video card was delivered by FedEx last Friday morning around 11:45 am and just left by my front door! A box, clearly marked Newegg which I think even non-geeks know means it is a computer part, and likely valuable, was just dumped there in the scorching Florida sun!

Luckily I heard him drop it (I think he gave a quick "knock-knock") and was able to bring my baby in. "Sorry, evil neighbors, no top-of-the-line expensive as fuck video card for you today." (Actually, I have no reason to believe my neighbors are evil.)

Getting the old card out of Mildred was stressful since the power connectors and even its seating in the motherboard were so tight. (I don't know why that sounds like the opening of a dirty joke.) And putting the power connector into the slot on the new card was so difficult I resorted to using my crappy pair of pliers. In my fat-fingered, brutish haste, I accidentally stripped a millimeter or two of insulation from one of the wires! Fuck, I can only hope this will not cause any future problems!

The post install testing of the card proved it was a success, though. The benchmarks were off the chain! Skyrim, Assassins Creed 3, Elite: Dangerous and Fallout 4 looked phenomenal! And a game like Tomb Raider (2013) looked so awesome, I became immersed in it way more than when I originally got it.

But the Frankenputerization was just beginning! I still needed to swap out the CPU. I went to the local computer store, Refresh Computers, where I bought Mildred, and got a tube of thermal paste. (About $4.50 for a teeny tiny 1 ml? tube...they know how to do it, gouge folks on the little things!)

I setup the living room as the ersatz operating room: clearing the coffee table, draping a clean towel over it and setting up my screwdrivers, pliers, LED flashlight, can of air (which I didn't need because the inside of Mildred is clean as fuck...dust filters on the intake fans do a really good job!), turning on all the know, setting it up properly.

The swap out of the CPU went well. There was some question of whether the Intel CPU fan and heatsink was detached and reinstalled properly but my laptop was used to consult YouTube videos and I feel it was done right. But there was a problem...

When I booted Mildred up, the American Megatrends DOS-ish text came up telling me I needed to go to the bios to setup the new CPU. No problem. This is how it was back in the 90s too. Even American Megatrends was a comforting sight. I guess they are the bios writers for Asus, the motherboard manufacturers. Well they're certainly well known by me as most bioses I've ever worked on were done by them.

The bios acknowledged the new CPU and I saved and exited. The boot process continued but as the blue screen with the Windows 10 logo was "searching" (as indicated by the revolving circle of dots) it took a long time. Oh oh. Sure enough, the next screen instructed me to restart since the boot drive was inaccessible. What?! I couldn't figure out what was wrong and after some futile troubleshooting, decided to revert back to the i5 CPU since, I thought, the problem could be the i7 CPU. Well the same message came up after that swap and after consulting several sources with the laptop on YouTube and other sites, I found a solution and it worked so I went and took Mildred back to the operating table for the third time and reinstalled the i7 CPU. I again performed the recommended steps and the situation was resolved. Oh, and the saving video that gave me the solution to the issue sounded like it was made by a 12 year old.#DinosaurGraveyardHereICome

So I've been humming along for a week with the new Mildred and now I'm suddenly tasked with setting up the early-arrived Oculus Rift just yesterday.

And it seemed like my bad luck was continuing:

I adjusted the straps on the headset and even at maximum it's a VERY tight fit. I'm too big and my head is too fat. It goes on but awkwardly and fitting my glasses with it...well it just wants to contort the glasses frames and pushes the lenses up against my eyes so I actually have issues of my eyelids getting stuck to the lenses.

I'm using an older pair of wire-framed glasses as my Marc Ecko designer glasses are too large. But the prescription is less than current and this may be impacting my visual experience. Despite the screens within the viewer being only inches away from your eyes, I guess the field of vision and vocal depth are such that you really do need your visual aids as a nearsighted person since it's the same as looking across a large room, you need glasses to see clearly. I clearly will need to see an eye doctor and go back to contacts. The pressure on the bridge of my nose with glasses is too uncomfortable.

As I was going through the setup process, I was instructed to pull out the plastic tab on the remote which would allow the contacts within to engage with the lithium battery but the tab wouldn't pull out. I used more force and it broke. I tried to rescue the attempt by pulling on the remaining tab fragment with pliers and it broke off even more. So, no remote on the initial setup. (I eventually found a reddit thread where many users had the same issue and was instructed that the back of the remote slides off to allow access to the inside...would have been nice for Oculus to mention that.)

Because of my fat cheeks, the bottom of the viewer near the nose gap allows light through and I can see the outside world. Usually this isn't a big problem while in a game, it's easily ignored. But it's yet another issue they haven't thoroughly worked out yet it would seem.

Finally, the experience: Maybe I'm a bit jaded because as a longtime enthusiast of 3-D theme park rides and venues, I've become accustomed to VR on a grand scale. There are so many great 3-D rides at Universal, Disney and even Sea World that I've experienced the VR world, with full motion and dynamic effects and world-class quality that a home use system can't even hope to compare with.

Knowing that I'm not sitting in a multi-million dollar simulator designed by Disney Imagineers, I realize I'm sitting at home at my computer desk with a hot, pinching, corded and bulky set of goggles displaying a screen-door pixilated low-res, effect-distorted image in faux 3-D with tiny, ill-fitting earpads pumping out low-volume, underwhelming audio that's unable to mask the sounds of the environment in my bedroom like the nearby tower fan. Immersion is poor since I'm continually given visual and audio clues that I'm just sitting at my computer straining to focus on some fuzzy, smudgy things "around me" (as long as I move my head around to look).

I know this sounds bad. But it really can be better with some simple modifications. Contacts instead of glasses (and at the proper prescription), better and higher quality applications (the free games and apps available in the Oculus store are mostly crap IMHO to be honest.) and frankly, lowered expectations. This is the first generation of this. I guess I was expecting miracles.

To be honest, I had a terrific time flying my ASP around in Elite:Dangerous. I love the sense of volume and space. How appropriate for a space game. But that resolution and the SDE though! And trying to get used to flying with a controller after learning keyboard/mouse controls like a boss...ugh!

Lucky's Tale was another nice experience. It's very cute and it's like your playing on a big miniature train set type of landscape. Nice.

I even cried a little when watching a VR video done by a New York artist featuring really nice aerial shots over Manhattan.

Maybe I'll discover that the resolution issue is due to my ever-constantly warned sub par specs by the Oculus interface? Maybe it's the apps I'm using? In any event, this is the one aspect they've gotta work on. Sense of space, scale, field of vision, 360 degree environment...that's on the right track. Now work hard on the resolution and the distortion like the "god-rays" and blur caused by the Fresnel lenses. Universal uses these lenses in their newest googles on the rides there and I never had a problem with them. Talk to the theme parks, Oculus! And not some rinky-dinky theme parks...the Big in Orlando!

Make me beam the childlike goofy grin I do when I'm on one of their rides....and then I'll say you nailed it.