On Skyrim: B&E

Posted in Uncategorized on December 15, 2011 by hotbloodedslacker

You know what? I used to be a normal, law-abiding citizen… but thanks to Skyrim, I gained an unusual fondness for breaking and entering. And right now, goddamn do I love me some B&E.

All in-game, of course. Still, it is a tad disconcerting, just because it’s so strangely satisfying. You’re in this virtual playground with very few restrictions, and one of the things you can do is break into people’s houses. That may not sound like a big deal, but… well, there’s really nothing quite like it. But I will try to describe it.

It is a curious thing, seeing people’s houses untended. You get to peruse their books and items and trinkets, scouring the nooks and crannies for buried gold (literally) as you go. Peeking into drawers and end tables and chests will inevitably unearth a certain sum of gold, and in a way, you stop and think about what you’re doing at that point. This 50 gold may not seem like a lot to you, certainly, but it has been locked in some sort of strongbox, so this is likely this poor farmer’s life savings, representative of all of his past struggles and future aspirations. And you can take that all away in one fell swoop, and if you do things right, nobody will ever know you were responsible.

Why is this so satisfying?!

Even just getting into the house itself can be exciting. Sure you can pick the lock any time, but that’d be the boring way to go about it. I find it’s better to nab the key right off of people, so that you can come into and go out of their houses at your leisure. Think about that for a second–that means you can check on their houses over and over, casually slipping any new valuables they may have added into your satchel. These people would be living in fear of some silent phantom, one who presents a constantly looming threat of snatching away everything they hold dear at any given moment. That must absolutely paralyze Skyrim’s homeowners… and that pleases me.

Clearly, all this is indicative of some deep-rooted psychological and/or anti-social disorder, but I’m much too busy to fix it right now. I mean, those dragons don’t kill themselves, you know.

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Event Recap: UFC 140 (Jones vs. Machida)

Posted in Uncategorized on December 13, 2011 by hotbloodedslacker

Boy, it is a great time to be a UFC fan right now.

The sport is changing in a major way right now, but it forgoes the usual awkwardness of adolescence and cuts right to all the good stuff, sporting a look that is faster, stronger, and just plain meaner. A lot of great fighters retired this year–off the top of my head you have Randy Couture, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Mirko Cro Cop, and (possibly) Tito Ortiz. But there has been a steady stream of young talent in the sport, and a lot of them have really made a name for themselves. Part of what made this event so great is the fact that it showcased a lot of this young talent in spectacular fashion.

That said, on to the fights!

  • Featherweight bout: Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung

This was my first time watching Chan Sung Jung fight, but man, was I impressed. It will probably take you longer to finish reading this sentence than it would to watch that entire fight. The funny thing is that The Korean Zombie (TKZ) was talking about how he felt he was the superior striker, and the commentators countered by saying that was probably a bluff because Hominick was clearly the superior technical striker. That may be true still, but a 7-second KO (tie for all-time fastest KO, BTW) is a hell of a rebuttal.

Jung’s quickly turning into a favorite for me. This performance follows upon his first UFC fight (a rematch vs. Leonard Garcia), which he finished with the first (and only, thus far) Twister submission in UFC history. Look that up if you haven’t seen it; it’s plain nasty. I was doubtful of the newer weight classes at first, but fights like these have converted me for sue.

Result: Jung defeated Hominick via KO (punches) at 0:07 of round 1.

  • Welterweight bout: Claude Patrick vs. Brian Ebersole

Spoiler alert: this was the only fight that went to decision. To be honest, I thought it would go the other way. Claude Patrick was more aggressive in my opinion, and I thought he did more damage overall. Then again, people often speak of how defense is never given its due, and Ebersole’s submission defense was top-notch, exhibiting a Gracie level of calm the entire time. Perhaps that swung the decision in his favor; if so, I can’t really argue with that.

Result: Ebersole defeated Patrick via split decision (29–28, 28–29, 29–28).

  • Light Heavyweight bout: Tito Ortiz vs. Antônio Rogério Nogueira 

Say what you will about Tito Ortiz, but the man’s got guts. I’m pretty sure most of the fans had already dismissed him as early as the Ryan Bader fight, but he won fairly decisively in that one, proving he still has some fight left in him. Little Nog, on the other hand, while a great fighter, has had his share of ups and downs in the UFC. So it’s pretty clear that both men needed to win this fight, and in this case, Little Nog managed to play Tito’s game by grounding and pounding him.

Little Nog’s strategy was pretty brilliant, actually–go for the body. It was pretty clear in Tito’s last fight that that was his weak point, when Rashad Evans downed him with a knee to the body. Minotouro did the same here, opening with the same move and finishing with a salvo of punches to the body.

Result: Nogueira defeated Ortiz via TKO (punches to the body) at 3:15 of round 1.

  • Heavyweight bout: Frank Mir vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira

Frank Mir is a bad, bad man.

If I had to put money down on this fight going in, I’d have chosen Big Nog. Not easily, perhaps, but I feel that’s where I would have ended up. I just felt he had good momentum going in, coming off a knockout of Brendan Schaub in UFC 134, whereas Mir last fought Roy Nelson way back in UFC 130, where he won by unanimous decision. It turns out I would have been dead wrong, so it’s a good thing my money stayed put.

Big Nog nearly got the win in this one, but as he was trying to work on the ground Mir managed to lock in a kimura. This was hands down the most painful thing to watch in UFC 140, and one of the most impressive as well–doubly so as Mir pulled off the one just when it seemed Noguiera was going to knock him out. Minotauro probably at some point thought he would get out, but Frank pulled him back in. Noguiera suffered a dislocated shoulder because of the hold, and Frank Mir came away the victor.

The heavyweight division wouldn’t be my pick for deepest in the UFC (my pick would be light heavyweight), but it’s improved by leaps and bounds over recent years. I’m never sad to see heavyweight bouts on the main card, and it’s only looking to get better in time.

Result: Mir defeated Nogueira via submission (kimura) at 3:38 of round 1.

  • Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Jon Jones (c) vs. Lyoto Machida

I wasn’t really expecting much from the main event, to be perfectly honest. Don’t get me wrong, I always love watching Jon Jones fight, but I was thinking Lyoto wouldn’t be able to do much in this one. But to be fair, Lyoto put up a decent fight. I thought the first round went to him for sure, and he hit Jonny Bones with one or two good shots.

But then the second round came along, and that was it. Jones tagged Machida with a solid hit and they ended up against the cage, where the champion hit the challenger with a nasty standing guillotine, which literally put Machida to sleep. Done and done.

Result: Jones defeated Machida via technical submission (guillotine choke) at 4:26 of round 2.

It really says something that all Joe and Mike could talk about after the fight was how Jones actually broke a sweat this time around. That’s simply how dominant he has been in his UFC career. He joins the ranks of Frank Shamrock, Tito Ortiz, and Chuck Liddell as the only men who have successfully defended the UFC Light Heavyweight Title more than once. And he’s only 24, at that! That’s just mind-boggling.

Can anyone in the division right now beat this guy? I honestly can’t think of a name, or even a fighting style that could be used to beat him. He uses his 7′ wingspan really well, so a boxer couldn’t get to him. Kicks will get you somewhere, but if he turns an errant kick into a takedown he can ground and pound with the most vicious elbows in the game today.

The only two areas I can think of where he may be at a disadvantage is on his back or in the clinch. Good luck with the former–he’s never been taken down in his UFC career, to the point where opponents just don’t even bother trying anymore. So the latter might work, but that comes with two big if’s: if one could close the distance, and if one could get around Jones’ length advantage, then maybe some real damage could be done in the clinch. Otherwise, Jonny Bones looks pretty much indestructible out there.

But there’s certainly no shortage of challengers. Right now Rashad Evans is on top of the list, but he needs to fight another contender again to get another title shot. On the other side of that coin is Phil Davis, who I feel is a bit underrated, but brings tremendous wrestling skills to the table. If things should go that way, then that fight may well play out like a master’s class in wrestling. Finally, my dark horse pick would be Dan Henderson. Not only does he have great wrestling and submission defense, he also has great hands, so he’s got a legitimate shot of getting a home-run knockout finish.

Well, that’s the recap, as well as a few of my thoughts on the event. If you’re into fights and have yet to catch the UFC in action, I highly recommend you do so. The past three “numbered” events have been the best I’ve ever seen–UFC 138 had one TKO and four submissions (including a sick 17 second first round finish) on a five fight main card, and UFC 139 featured the best main event I’ve ever watched, well worth the five rounds allotted for it.

So if you like watching people getting choked, twisted, knocked out, and beaten, you should definitely catch the next one, UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem, on December 30, 2011. It features Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem in what looks to be a very intriguing main event. Lesnar is no stranger to fight fans, of course, with his freakish athleticism, heavy hands, and solid wrestling base. Overeem, on the other hand, has a lot more experience than Lesnar, and is coming off a win over Fabricio Werdum. It’s shaping up to be a great fight, so again, you should tune in if you like that sort of thing.

V-Day: A Culinary Perspective

Posted in Uncategorized on February 15, 2011 by hotbloodedslacker

This year’s Valentine’s Day had some interesting food for me, which is a pretty universal thing I think… something you’d care about regardless of, say, “status.” So, yeah. On with the food!

-Breakfast: Grilled Chicken, Fried Egg, and Brown Rice
This is actually the norm for me. When I’m in Parañaque pretty much every meal I have cooked is some form of chicken and rice. Brown rice now, since I’ve sworn off white rice for the time being. Usually with tomatoes or mixed vegetables. My sisters tend to make fun of me for just having the same damn thing all the time, but I like it well enough, plus it’s about as healthy I can go on a day-to-day basis. Good meal before having to go to work.

-Lunch: Same thing, minus the egg
Like I said, pretty much every meal…

-Lunch (dessert): Tarts from Rowena’s
My sister brought two boxes of these from Tagaytay, one of which contained the chocolate mousse tart. I’d never had that particular flavor before; once I had, I felt robbed.

Not because it wasn’t good, mind, but because I’d obviously been eating other, clearly inferior tarts my whole life.

I suppose that’s quite a strong statement; truthfully, Rowena’s makes damn good tarts, period. But their chocolate mousse tart… it’s insanely good. The whole thing (crust, filling, and topping) is chocolate, but it’s not at all overwhelming–neither too sweet nor too rich. The topping, which reminded me of chocolate pudding, is very smooth and decadent.

It’s the sort of thing that’s worth going to Tagaytay for all on its own.

No Tagaytay trip is complete without a stop at Rowena's

I’d joke that they were paying me to say the above, but honestly, I can’t imagine any of their customers not raving about their stuff.

-Pre-Dinner (at home): Chocolate
My dad had been eating some chocolate bar that was a mix of white and milk, so I had a little bit. It was alright, though I didn’t know where it came from. It was packaged in rather nondescript red foil with no names or anything. And it was sugar free, apparently? Pretty good for a sugar free chocolate bar, actually. Dad tore off a couple of rows for me to take, which was nice.

-Pre-Dinner (at PDI): “Sakanami” squid flavor, Original Nagaraya
I brought Liz the remaining tarts from Rowena’s… all two of them. No chocolate mousse tarts left, unfortunately. Those went by in a heartbeat. Instead I brought her one buko and one apple tart; she had the apple, and gave the buko to her boss. The tarts were great, of course (I had a bit of the apple tart).

Since I’d skipped dinner at home I had a few snacks from Liz’s desk. There were these fish snack things which I’ll just call Sakanami because that’s what I remember from when I was a kid. It was like eating squid-flavored foam, actually, but it was the sort of thing that had more sentimental value than anything else. Also quite healthy, apparently, though not the most filling thing on earth. I also had a couple of packs of Nagaraya (the small packs). Good ol’ Nagaraya, eh? It never gets old.

-Dinner: Mushroom Soup, Steak and Eggs
After much deliberation over the course of the day, we decided to have dinner at Mom and Tina’s along C-5. This turned out to be a smart choice, as there weren’t a lot of people going to, or at, the restaurant. We got a table pretty much right away and lined up our orders.

Liz and I split a bowl of mushroom soup, which was served with a couple of their trademark rolls. A good starter, I think. I ordered the Steak and Eggs, medium well as per usual.

Quick segue: I don’t know about you, but I love places that serve all-day breakfast 🙂

Mmm... Steak 'n' Eggs

Anyway, Steak and Eggs. I had it with mashed potatoes (again, cutting the white rice). I have to say that was a first for me; I don’t recall another time in my life where I’ve had meat and potatoes and eggs at the same time. Well, save perhaps for breakfast buffets, but I think in terms of tallying combinations of food buffets shouldn’t really count. That said, it was quite good. Not the best steak I’ve ever had at that price range, but quite effective as solid comfort food (which is really the point of MnT’s food). Egg yolks mixed with mash and gravy and a couple of other sauces, all of which complemented the steak nicely.

-Dinner (dessert): Baked Oreo Cheesecake, White Toblerone Walnut Torte
It was our first time ordering the baked oreo cheesecake, and like the chocolate mousse tarts, this one was an eye opener. The main difference from a standard cheesecake is the texture, I think. Baked cheesecake has a more cake-like consistency, closer to a muffin than regular cheesecake. The flavors were spot on, so it was really enjoyable. I only had a bit of that, though. My order was the white Toblerone walnut torte.

I know white chocolate gets a lot of flak for not really tasting like chocolate should, but it’s always been a favorite for me. As a kid I actually wasn’t a fan of milk chocolate, but I absolutely adored white chocolate. Eating the torte really brought back those memories of the first few times I got to try white chocolate–I believe it was Nestle’s now defunct “Alpine White.”

To sum, dinner was packed with nostalgic comfort food. How could you go wrong?

-Post-dinner: Red Wine
Specifically Novellino’s Sweet Lively Red. It’s not a proper red wine, as it’s sweet and somewhat fizzy. Maybe “wine cooler” is the better term? Not that I mind, really. I don’t think I’m at that age yet where I get to be finicky about what I drink. And I mean, hey, having once downed a bottle of Kung Fu with my bros, I’m really in no position to judge.

I swear Kung Fu is a real local liquor brand, which tastes like Efficascent Oil mixed with roast chicken drippings. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find any pictures of it. I guess even Google won’t touch that stuff? But that’s me and my bros for you–we craaazy.

At any rate, Liz and I split the bottle of Novellino, which got us just drunk enough. Great nightcap for a great V-Day 😀

The Amazing Race: Optimization

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2011 by hotbloodedslacker

So the thing that’s been keeping me busy is Dragon Age: Origins math. Well, okay, Dragon Age too; these past two weeks I must have spent around 60 hours or so with it, and that’s more than I usually play in a month, regularly. It’s really quite something, even for a game that’s two years old (thank you, bargain pick-ups). But really, that’s for another time. Today it was mostly math.

Problem sets, eh? What’s up with thaaat? /seinfeld

(By the way, there is literally no reason you darned whippersnappers in attendance should know what that references)

I spent about four hours working on my problem set today. Not a lot of time, maybe, but considering that’s an entire week’s worth of work for me (on the good weeks), that’s quite a large chunk. Only to realize at the end I’d basically wrote a lot of unnecessary, incorrect things on my sheets of paper, which is really quite frustrating. So it took me another two hours to do a rewrite, which I just finished.

So I figure, hey, I spent all that time on it. Might as well talk about it, hm?

The Problem, basically, is finding… let’s say the cheapest flight from here (the Philippines) to, I don’t know, the USA (let’s say Oklahoma City). So you can go the direct flight, sure, but that’s not always the cheapest way to go. Maybe it’s cheaper to go by Guam first, or Hawaii, right? Each flight’s cost is given, and at most, it’s going to be ten flights (or nine stops) you can take. Think about it, though; that’s a lot of flights.

Solving that in itself isn’t really that hard, if you know how to do so. Just start with the destination and work your way backward. For example, from Oklahoma City to, say, Chicago, there’s only one flight. Then from Oklahoma city to California, you can either stop by Chicago first and then head to California, or go straight to California from OKC; just pick whichever’s cheaper. Then just work your way to the Philippines one stop at a time. On the whole, if you’re doing it right, you should only be considering 55 flights at most. The real Problem is this: what if you’ve got a couple of coupons at your disposal?

If you answered “Why, just take whatever you found without the coupons, then use them at the most expensive flights!”, you’d be wrong. Discounts let you “cheat” the method by taking some of the more expensive, yet quicker, flights. So given any path you just need to apply the larger discount to the most expensive flight, and the other to the second most expensive flight.

But that’s, in practice, quite a bit of work. To solve this, you actually need to concoct two preliminary scenarios: one where you only have one coupon, and another where you only have, well, the other one. Then, with that data in hand, you can solve the case where you have both. In the case with ten flights, two coupons actually has you looking at 220 flights (for a complete system). Again, that’s a lot of flights. But that’s still less than what you get when you list down all your options: for any single case, there are 512 flight paths from the Philippines to OKC.

Quick aside, here: there’s actually a really simple way to obtain the number of possible flights. If you have ten flights, you have at most nine stops in between your origin and your destination. For each stop, you either stop there, or you don’t. So that’s just 2^9 = 512.

Math at work, people. Math at work.

Moving forward, there are four cases (no coupons, only the larger, only the smaller, and both), so that’s 512 x 4 = 2048 options. Now, aren’t you glad you didn’t write them all down? That would take all day!

Actually, thinking about it now, I’m pretty glad there wasn’t an exorbitant amount of flights and coupons. If you add just one more coupon and one more flight, which doesn’t really sound like much, you’re looking at 528 flights; a 140% increase in workload. So in the end I guess I got off pretty easy there.

Yeah, let’s go with that. Move along folks, nothing to see here. I got me some salesmen to assign.

Hello, 2011.

Posted in Uncategorized on January 2, 2011 by hotbloodedslacker

Hello, blog. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Few who know me would criticize the lack of content here, as they all know I am very, very busy. Recently I’ve been like the wizened mage poring through various tomes and grimoires, too busy searching for answers to engage in something as frivolous as human contact… or, in this case, petty writing. Indeed, what power hath words compared to these formulae arcane–nay, mathematical?

Well, that’s how it used to be, at least. Now, hopefully, I can bring myself to write more, and I also hope I can come up with things you won’t always find elsewhere. Theory beside ranting. Logic beside emotion. Ideas that don’t always make sense, don’t always add up, don’t always play by the rules, but start to have a clearer picture once you squint a little bit. I know that sounds like a lot from a non-writer such as myself, but I figure when you’ve decided to overachieve anyway, you might as well go all-in.

That said, I’m just gonna go ahead and blog now, if that’s alright with y’all.

In All Fairness

Posted in Uncategorized on May 11, 2010 by hotbloodedslacker

Disclaimer: On the whole, I am not a very political creature. But as elections only occur every 6 years in this country, I figure I will chime in, possibly just this once.

——————————————————————————-

Sometimes, the results of a victory are not as important as what the battle represents. This country has long yearned for change in governance, and so far, it seems that is what we will receive. Everyone really did their part to make sure the elections were fair, and the results pretty much speak for themselves.

At least, as far as the presidential and vice-presidential races are concerned. Everything is performing as pre-election polling indicated they would. Sen. Aquino, the leading presidential candidate as of this writing, at the very least inspires some degree of confidence, and he has a very good chance of restoring unity and cooperation in the Philippines (needless to say, we will see exactly how he measures up to the task in the coming years).

On the other hand, it’s looking like his supporting-cast-to-be leaves a lot to be desired. Mar Roxas and Jojo Binay are neck and neck right now, so it’s still a bit too early to talk about the VP. As far as senatorial candidates, well, it can’t be helped. The people have spoken, and the numbers support the results, so that much is acceptable.

However, polls for local positions tend to be less visible. Consequently, anomalous results are easier to wave off. For example, world-renowned boxer Manny Pacquiao and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, either of which are dubious choices at best, have both won posts in the House of Representatives. But stranger still are the results in District II of Pampanga, where President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also won a seat. That’s right–our president is now a representative (or soon will be, technically speaking).

——————————————————————————-

Alright, quick aside.

Imagine, if you will, a president who, through hard work and due diligence, racked up a staggering -32 approval rating. Yet apparently, in the place of her birth, citizens remained so proud of her that when she decided to run for Congress, nearly everybody decided to vote for her. And so, she won by a landslide. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen–amidst mounting pressure from the rest of the country for genuine change in governance, the District II’ers, as it turns out, simply said “Sod you wankers!” and decided to keep their most famous daughter in the government anyway.

If that’s not Twilight Zone material, I don’t know what is.

——————————————————————————-

Indeed, such results are rather troubling. But then, if something is amiss, then we will root it out. Surely these… anomalies will be investigated, and the truth will prevail. That is the system, and that’s how it works.

In an ideal world, at least.

Zombieland

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2010 by hotbloodedslacker

I (finally) saw this movie last night. I’ve been meaning to do so ever since it came out, but other movies kept getting in the way. This time, since my slate was empty (and I was having a slight bout of insomnia), I took the time to see it, which is a decision I don’t regret in the slightest.

Quick synopsis: the zombie plague has taken over the USA (and, presumably, the world), and there are only a handful of survivors left. The movie doesn’t show us how society at large has dealt with the zombie apocalypse (no zombie-free military bases here). Instead, we get to see how individuals go about their daily lives in the new undead-ridden world.

That’s one defining trait of Zombieland, actually. You shouldn’t go into it expecting a gripping piece on the human struggle. The plot is decent and reasonably predictable, but that’s not the point. This movie is a fun, fast-paced romp through, well, Zombieland that’s highly character-driven.

Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is your typical socially awkward teenage boy who spends (or, more accurately, spent) all his time indoors playing World of Warcraft. He quickly runs into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), a rather simple-minded badass who’s pretty much in it for fun and Twinkies. The pair then run into sisters Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin, respectively) who con them for their weapons and vehicle. The men give chase, and eventually the four end up traveling together (though with no little difficulty getting along with each other).

One thing I really like about Zombieland is that it doesn’t make light of a zombie apocalypse (it’s no Fido, at any rate). It’s the characters who do so. Everyone’s developed a sense of gallows humor, which leads into gems like Zombie Kill of the Week and Columbus’ rulebook (the latter being a nice, quirky addition to the film, actually, turning a dire, hopeless situation into “Tonight on SportsCenter”). The tone it sets is a refreshing change from the tropes more commonly used in the genre (where you typically get stuck with a group containing, but not limited to Action Man, Panic Girl, Let’s-all-calm-down-and-figure-out-how-to-survive Person, etc.).

And while we're on the subject of making light of a situation...

This ragtag group of human survivors turns what would have been Zombieland, the Sovereign Nation of Zombies, Ghouls, Wights and So Forth, into Zombieland, a funtastic nation-spanning theme park where your family can experience the thrill of shooting down the walking dead for as low as $39.95*! This is lampshaded by the latter part of the film, as well as the movie poster, which initially led me to believe that the whole amusement park thing was what the movie was going to be about.

* – terms and conditions apply. If you or anybody in your family has never come into contact with the undead before, ask your witch doctor, military general, or Bruce Fuckin’ Campbell if Zombieland is right for you.

Now I won’t tell you what the ending is, specifically, but I will tell you what it’s not. It’s not the discovery of a cure to eliminate the zombie plague, and neither is it an escape to a fortified mountain location where survivors are free to live out the rest of their zombie free lives. The ending is about as happy as it gets with zombie movies, and in a lot of ways it offers more closure than the aforementioned examples (So we administer the cure, hide underground, then nuke the zombies. What if we miss a few of them, what then?).

Bottom line: if you like zombies, darkish humor, snappy dialogue and/or movies that don’t take themselves too seriously, then go see Zombieland.