Backlash of Latakia

From my last adventure in tobacco flavors, I bought a stupid amount of tobacco from the land of eurotrash.

Latakia continues to be incredibly interesting – everytime I smoke it, it’s something different.

My particular stuff had a heavy “meat” taste fresh from the distributor. It’s been about a month in my various humidor jars, and it’s calmed the meat taste down quite a bit. Reason for that is the jars allow light in, and the light goes a long way towards breaking down the flavors. Just like beer, if anyone was wondering. On cigars the effect isn’t as pronounced since most of the flavor comes from the inside. On pipe tobacco with no casing – any mellowing effect works on the whole bag. Ignoring my pipe set for a month (not by choice) has improved this greatly. The meat has dropped out and the smokeyness comes through.

The best pairing for tobacco is scotch. Bowmore had proved to be absurdly good paired with La Aroma De Cuba cigars. By themselves, Bowmore has almost an offensive peaty taste to it (think Lauphroag without the smoke) but paired with La Aroma De Cuba which tastes like cake batter, and suddenly it’s got raisins, grandma’s cooking, vanilla, icing, nuts and chocolate. I ran out of Bowmore at the beginning of the month (for whatever reason the price went up) and grabbed McClellands speyside. They were out of Islay, and I prefer Islay anything. Speyside is second on the list, then lowland, then highland. But I’m more likely to try a new brand than buy anything but speyside or islay.

The McClellands by itself isn’t impressive. It’s not got the depth of flavor I want, it’s got no oak and no smoke that you can really taste. It’s sort of faded and could comfortably fit into bourbon because it’s not quite as smooth as it could be. However, I grabbed my pouch of “english heavy” (which is heavy on the smoke and meat flavors) and poured a snifter. With ice, if anyone wants to know. Basically the smoke from the tobacco changes the flavor of the scotch (vastly overpowering it) and made the scotch sweet. Honey came through, along with maybe something else sweet (apple? pair? orange?) and fruity. The tobacco, on the other hand, became less smokey the more I had and eventually turned sweet. The lemons normally associated with the end of a pipe were really quite subdued and complimented the scotch well given it’s citrus notes.

Whiskey Works

Apparently someone makes a barrel which lets you age swill in an attempt to convert it to good stuff.

The reason why it works is because you’re evaporating the alcohol out of it, which means you’re left with delicious oaky goodness and instead of throat burning trash, the ABV goes down so you’re drinking cereal. The oak may also buffer the PH.

I don’t think this has much of a future.

Meditations on Parenthood

I managed to get the MR2 all fixed up, the battery it’s been running with I used a few zipties as buffers for the battery terminal. Finally those went due to resistance, and the battery terminal was so worn out it didn’t make any contact with the car. Sears tried to sell me a Wiz Bang battery with a meter on the side and a four year warranty and maintenance free (minus labor, of course) for $200. I asked what the cheaper one was.

“Well, it’s a battery with a two year…”
“You don’t want that, it’s got a half year warranty and we’ve had terrible luck…”

The MR2 runs fine. It vacuum stalls until it gets a few miles on the engine but once it warms up it’s totally happy. Now I just need to make use of my garage in my house to fix up the paint and do the cosmetics and OH WAIT I DON’T HAVE A HOUSE.

The house hunt goes well, there’s some incredibly shady deals out there however. Me and Kelly found a house we both really loved – only to find out they “forgot” to put down termites on the disclosure. This new house we’re going to look at tomorrow is in middling condition (I’m fine with it), another bank deal (tons of those), and located in Oaks. And it will probably have termites.

On parenting – Some of my friends have kids. DON’T LET THAT PREVENT YOU FROM COMING OUT AND SEEING PEOPLE.

Left for Dead Patch Review

New Left for Dead patch is out. My thoughts:

Adding damage to the “help me up” state of the survivor when they’re hanging onto a ledge is a good thing since 90% of the time when someone was there they took no damage as no-one could reach them on either team. The survivors could basically ignore a player there until whatever they were doing was done then come get them with no health penalty to them. Now the person loses health and gradually lets go.

Adding a limit to the “swing” really sucks. Part of the terror of the game was knowing you simply didn’t have time for a reload. The shotgun is now absolutely useless since it’s reloaded one-at-a-time. It used to be you would reload the shotgun while swinging wildly, now that you can’t swing nonstop the shotgun is simply a trap. You either have a clip or you don’t. The game is now a lot less frantic because common infected can put serious hurt on a swinging player, so everyone moves slooooowly to cover each other. While this is more realistic, that wasn’t ever the point of a zombie game. I realize people abused this in the past in versus where they would bunch up and just keep swinging, but I don’t think this is the solution. Last nights romp through Death Toll took two hours because of the change of pace.

The “fix” for that is they made the guns more powerful. Shotgun still goes through infinite zombies when you fire it, but now bullets penetrate all surfaces except cars. We found this out the hard way on the lighthouse map where we stockpiled the bathroom full of explosives and the first zombie that ran by we sprayed through them, through the wall, and into the bathroom, which resulted in the death of the team. This works to great (some might argue too much) effect against the infected. For example I knew a boomer was on top of a building, so I simply walked in and emptied the clip into the ceiling until I got him. I suppose this is to fix the “smoker tongue around a corner” that people complained endlessly about where you could tongue a running survivor and if you timed it right you would just barely be hidden by a wall, but I liked the old setup better where bullets stopped more.

However, all these encourage the survivors to consume stupid amounts of ammo, which means they spend a lot more time using pistols.

Special Infected can no longer crouch and attack, except the hunter, which makes the claw-swipe useless as your head is always above the common infected crowd.

The new map is merely decent. The lighthouse is claustrophobic and there’s really no good place to hole up because every single wall is destructible in the place. You can be on top of the house, but then the first smoker that comes along after the rails are destroyed makes a survivor hang on. The tank will also climb up the lighthouse. The rock face also sucks because your survivor won’t hang on, you just drop into the surf for an instant death.

I only got to play Death Toll last night, but I’ve got mixed feelings about that too. For one, it was designed for single player which means that unless you’re floating, it’s really hard to get into the ambush spots. Since you’re not floating, some of them are simply inaccessible like the drop down in the tunnel. Other areas have been “cleaned up” so there’s less obstacles. I’m not sure if this is for the tank or because the boomer would always get hung up in them for great comedic effect. Other areas are closed off entirely, they used to be nooks and crannies for survivors to check for healthpacks but now the closets have a lot less space in them (look for new doors) and some of them don’t exist at all (the rest stop in the forest is now boarded on both sides). Almost all buildings have at least one hole in the roof.

They did fix what remaining map cheats there were, but it remains really hard to find a place to spawn on any forested map, especially when the survivors are playing to intentionally fan out through choke points so the infected get “you’re too close to the survivors” or “Can’t spawn were you’ll be seen” messages. For Death Toll in particular the map is so linear that a little effort goes a long way into preventing infected spawns.

Hopefully Dead Air is a bit more forgiving but last night was not encouraging.

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Shamelessly reproduced from Michelle Malkin‘s version.

In a meadow on a hot summer’s day, a Grasshopper was chirping and carousing his time away. He watched scornfully as an Ant nearby struggled to store up large kernels of food and build a secure nest. The Ant pulled overtime shifts to pay off his loans and accumulate retirement funds for the future.

“Give it a rest,” the Grasshopper said. “Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? Let’s party!” The Ant demurred: “I am planning ahead for winter and you should do the same.” The Grasshopper blew off the Ant, squandered his supplies the rest of the season, and abandoned his home while on vacation (paid for by tapping every last cent of his home equity gain) instead of holding down a job.

When winter came, the Grasshopper’s pantry was empty and his shelter ruined from neglect. The Ant, weary from planting, harvesting, and stocking up for months, was dining comfortably in his nest.

Cold, hungry, jobless, facing foreclosure, and up to his two pairs of eyeballs in debt, the Grasshopper limped to the Association of Community Winged Insects for Rescue Now and demanded recourse. The office was swamped with thousands just like him. ACWIRN immediately put the Grasshopper to work registering dead ants as new voters.

Funded with tax dollars from the rest of the meadow’s residents, ACWIRN organized mass protests at the Bank of Antamerica, ambushed its top officials at their private homes, harassed their children, and demanded that the meadow’s politicians halt all foreclosures (”We must keep Grasshoppers in their houses!”) and outlaw discriminatory lending practices against starving, homeless Grasshoppers (”Well-stocked shelters are basic insect rights!”)

The banking industry capitulated; the Orthoptera Lobby secured hundreds of millions of dollars in housing earmarks and grants and counseling subsidies to support the Grasshoppers with the shadiest credit and employment histories. Antie Mae, the meadow’s government-backed home lending giant, fueled the push for increased insect homeownership in the name of biodiversity. Its executives cooked the books and headed for the hills. Katie Cricket and the Mainstream Meadow Media joined the grievance-for-profit circus, profiling Grasshopper sob stories and drumming up ratings as bewildered Ants wondered who was looking out for them.

The banks drowned in toxic debt. More Grasshoppers fell behind on their mortgage payments. Bailout mania and panic gripped the meadow.

Our little Ant, minding his own business, heard a knock on his door one late winter night a year later. It was his old, sneering Grasshopper neighbor. With ACWIRN’s presidential candidate, Barack Cicada, now in office, the Grasshopper had been hired by the meadow as a tax collector.

“I’m here to take your provisions,” the Grasshopper cackled.

But it was the Ant who had the last laugh. “I’ve learned my lesson,” he told his shiftless friend. “Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? I’ve spent all my savings. I’m walking away from my mortgage. Thrift is for suckers,” the Ant said as he headed out the door, leaving the Grasshopper empty-handed.