With 2014 firmly in the past, here’s hoping 2015 brings success and joy to you all.
I finally tried sardines, despite all the negative publicity they receive.
Rarely do I try new foods; not because I am opposed to new things, but rather because I am so eager to try new things that I am seldom exposed to something I haven’t encountered before. I’ll try any food at least once, and I dislike very few. I can appreciate fine dining, but I’m not picky.
As I was perusing the wares of Costco today, picking up groceries for the week, I noticed that they had a few brands of sardines. It occurred to me there, I’ve never had sardines before. Seafood is probably my favorite genre (are there “genres” of food? types?) of cuisine, and I haven’t yet found a type of fish that I won’t eat. I’m not a huge fan of salmon, but it’s ok.
Being adventurous, I decided to pick up the cheapest package of a few cans. If I didn’t like them, I could give away the rest. If everybody around hates them, I could dispose of them and simply share a funny story. Upon arriving home, took out one of the cans and placed it on the counter. Skimming Google results, it seems that most people just eat sardines straight from the can with a splash of hot sauce and laid over saltine crackers. Since we had no saltines, I grabbed a sleeve of Ritz and a bottle of Tabasco.
It is my firm belief that a food should not rely on garnish or accompanying foods to be good. You can make anything taste alright if you dress it up. I want ingredients to be good in and of themselves. Given that mindset, I popped open the can and grabbed one of the sardine fillets right from the olive oil. The small can was packed full with tiny white slivers of fish. As the smell reached my nose, I was surprised. With the terrible reputation that sardines have for smelling and tasting terrible, the scent was extremely mild. They did smell of fish, but only as much as any other fish does.
I took the plunge and bit off a small chunk of the sardine. Immediately, I was disappointed at how mild and palatable the dish was. These things were supposed to be terrible, one of the worst foods you can possibly eat. It had the generic texture and flavor of pretty much all fish I’ve had. As expected from the packaging means, it was slightly more mushy and less flakey than fresh fish. The flavor was fairly mild and somewhat salty (again, not surprising considering the fish is coming from a can). Honestly, even plain, they were not bad. Something I could very easily see myself eating on a regular basis. Not my favorite fish, but certainly one I don’t mind eating.
In order to honor the widely accepted practice of eating sardines with crackers and hot sauce, I broke another sardine in half and placed it gently on a Ritz. I dripped some hot sauce on top and placed the entire cracker in my mouth. As decent as the sardine was along, this combination was extremely good. The spice of the Tabasco mixed well with the flavor of the fish, and the texture of the Ritz gave a nice crisp to it. This could very well become my go-to snack.
This entire experience solidifies my goal to willingly try any new foods and opportunities that come my way. If it I come across something that tastes terrible, something that terrifies me, or something that I simply don’t enjoy, I can just avoid it in particular. In general, new experiences are great to expand my comfort zone and get more out of life. Carpe diem (and certainly not YOLO)!
Farewell, Autumn Park
With the last of the boxes moved and everything cleaned up, my time at Autumn Park has come to a close.
Sunday night was spent packing the last few boxes of stuff into my mother’s truck and cleaning every surface in the apartment. Yes, the lease formally ended on Monday. Yes, we did wait until the last minute to finish. That’s how we operate, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone close to us. Regardless, we did get everything moved and clean, all before midnight.
Seeing our apartment back in its natural state and knowing we would soon be out permanently brought on very peculiar feelings. I didn’t feel sad, as the move to our own house is better in every facet. We’re building equity, we have more room, we actually have parking spots, and plenty of other perks that home ownership brings. I did, however, feel… a wistfulness about our time there. It’s been a very busy year, and we’ve experienced so much within these walls.
Though my son was born while we were at our previous apartment, we moved when he was less than a month old so most of his first year was at Autumn Park. His first time crawling, his first time eating table food, his first scary emergency room trip (terrifying night), and plenty of others. He still has plenty of things to accomplish while growing up, but those will always be tied to Autumn Park.
My wife and I got married while living at this apartment. It wasn’t much, but it was home. The entire place was constantly a mess, the furniture was old and decrepit, we didn’t have any pictures on the walls for fear of incurring the wrath of our landlady, but it was ours. I’m quite proud of the house we now dwell in, but that doesn’t discount in any way the memories I have from the apartment.
With all the positives about our place at Autumn Park, there are certainly some negatives that I will not miss. Being on the third floor, forget those stairs. I’m aware that a two story house does have stairs within, but those are only necessary to reach bedrooms or a bathroom. No more lugging bags and bags of groceries up 2 flights EVERY SINGLE TRIP. Leaving paper thin walls means we don’t have to listen to our neighbors or risk annoying them with our own music, television, or conversations. If I’m making enough noise to annoy my neighbors now, I’ll probably be experiencing extreme hearing loss. Now that I’m buying rather than renting, I don’t have to keep everything in the exact same state and condition that it was when I moved in. I can paint, build, destroy, or alter anything I want (within reason). When I want to check my mail, all I do is step outside and open the mailbox.
I strongly feel that I’ve made the best decision for my family in buying a house. Even still, there’s something emotional about leaving part of our lives behind. Similar to when I left the freshman dormitory of USC Upstate, I’m moving on to a new chapter of my life and will likely never return to the old. Progress is good, but I am reminded yet again to always cherish the present and pay attention to the little things in life.
To the neighbors we’re leaving behind, you guys were a pleasure to live around. FEISTY1, it seems like we always seemed to leave or arrive home at the same time as you and your man. I don’t know that we ever spoke other than a quick greeting, but good luck at Upstate (which I noticed you have a parking decal for). Kyle, I don’t think I ever actually met you other than 3DS streetpass. I sincerely wish we could’ve at least exchanged friend codes to play together sometime, but alas, it was not to be. Short lady across the breezeway, I’m sorry about my brother-in-law blaring his music while he’s out smoking. He isn’t accustomed to apartments and doesn’t realize that everybody around can hear the music (if that’s what he wants to call it). And finally, to the Carolina fan downstairs, you’re a really cool guy and thanks for the Gamecocks decal.
I got free pizza, and math helped me get the most pizza possible… sorta.
The Greenville Road Warriors have a promotion with Tony’s Pizza and Subs that any time the Warriors score 5 points or more in a single game, everyone with a ticket stub can get a free pizza from Tony’s within the next 24 hours. Friday’s game was a high scoring game, with the Road Warriors winning 8 to 4 over the Florida Everblades. With my wife and I being a financially-minded couple, we decided not to waste free pizza.
We moved some boxes and furniture from the apartment on Saturday and decided to stop by Tony’s on the way to pick up our offspring. Upon arriving, I asked if that particular location honored the free pizza for Road Warrior ticket stubs, and thankfully they did. They cashier informed me that each stub was good for a single, small, 1-topping pizza. Free is free, so I can’t complain, but I asked if there might be a way to combine the tickets for a better offer. She went and asked the manager, who proposed that we could get a large, 1-topping pizza split into sides if we would prefer. Theorizing that either option was probably about the same, we decided to go for the single large pizza. I got my half with hamburger, and she opted for pepperoni on her side.
While waiting for the pizza, I began to ponder whether the two small pizzas or single large pizza would’ve technically been a better deal. The curiosity ate at me until I began to investigate in the menu. According to the Tony’s menu, a small pizza is 10” in diameter and a large pizza is 15” across. How could I know which technically gave me more? Slices would be unequal in size, so number of slices wouldn’t help. Then, it hit me: AREA! I could use the formula for surface area to determine exactly how much material either pizza contained. Assuming similar thickness in order to ignore height, I began calculating the surface area of each pie.
Small – 10”
A=78.5 sq. inches per person
Large – 15”
A/2=88.4 sq. inches per person
Though the difference was minor, I made the best choice in picking the large pizza for maximum free food. Hooray, math!
Kingdom Hearts Final Stretch
After working on Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX for just over a year, I’ve almost finished everything.
All I have left now are the gummi ship missions and beating the game in under 15 hours. Finishing in under 15 hours would normally be an annoying hassle, since I’ve already beaten the game 3 times (4 if you count my original play through on PS2) and that’s a fairly short time frame to meet. Instead, I’m planning on taking advantage of the (hopefully still present) glitch that counts 100 to 115 hours of game time as “under 15 hours.” My current save file is only around 60 hours at present, but I can just leave the console on while I’m at work or asleep and beat it quickly after the 100 hour mark.
The gummi ship missions are going to be a massive pain. I’ve finished the level 1 and level 2 missions for most worlds, but I haven’t yet beaten a level 3 mission on any world. Most of them require extremely specific ship requirements, and the tasks themselves are frustratingly difficult. Ideally, I should be able to read some guides and watch some videos on YouTube, and finish the missions without a ton of trouble. They’re irritating, but there are only so many of them.
I could quit the game now, but I hate being so close to platinum and never reaching it. Nobody really cares about how many trophies I have, but it bugs me. I’ve done almost every single thing the game has to offer, and I don’t want to leave it incomplete. If I pay for a game, I want my money’s worth out of it.