Honestly, I wasn’t sure if this mix “Discoveries” drink would be any good. It’s from Starbucks, and you already know I love Starbucks coffee. But the stuff at home…it just seemed a little, “boxed wine” for my taste.
But I wanted a change-up from the usual coffee with a hint of half-and-half or soy milk. So I purchased this Starbucks, “Discoveries” Caramel Macchiato for 5 bucks. It was usually $5.99 but it was on sale. And since I thought I might get more drinks out of it than going to Starbucks and talking to a barrista I decided to give it a shot.
Here’s what I ended up making:
1 part ice -
4 parts Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Mix
2 or 3 parts Half and Half
STIR and ENJOY!!
It is a fun drink and the half and half makes it easily silky!!! Yum!
PS: Here’s a video that I made showing how its done.
Thomas Cleary translated several teachings from the Zen master, Foyan. The book, Instant Zen – Waking Up in the Present has an ISBN of 1-55643-193-7 and it is a splendid read.
In the book, the reader not only gains insight directly from Foyan, but the teacher shares knowledge that he learned from many other Zen Masters.
That is a term that is brought up several times in the book. Why do people seek insight? Why seek at all? Isn’t Zen supposed to be some sort of instantaneous awakening and/or transmission of knowledge?
This is a tricky subject. Sometimes learning can be difficult because we are presented with mirrors. As one’s eye becomes more clear, the filth on the computer screen becomes easier to see. So we are compelled to clean that screen. Yet when the screen is finally turned off, even more grime remains.
Too many Zen Masters.
It is so funny how applicable the knowledge from this old compilation of teachings truly is in our current and modern day. It’s a testimony to identifying truth. The more one is exposed to truth and basic patterns, the easier it is to spot truth and basic patterns in one’s own speech, environment and culture.
In the case of Zen Masters, Foyan warns against labels and self-titling.
Paradoxes, hippocracy, oxymorons, non-sequiturs.
Zen is confusing. Get used to it. If anyone feels lost while learning, take refuge in the fact that people have felt lots for thousands of years while studying this material. Maybe studying Zen isn’t a good use of one’s time?
Can you learn.
Before I forget. Please read the notes by Thomas Cleary at the end of the book. It is interesting how many Zen gems are often left in glossaries, footnotes endnotes and appendixes. Instant Zen is no exception. Cleary’s notes add context for the Masters that are discussed in the book by Foyan. Also, some of the political landscape is discussed for Zen of that time. If you read more than one Zen book, these notes will add a sub-context which seems to make the information easier to absorb and digest.
The Sometime Boys have released a new album called, Riverbed and it is excellent.
It is a mix of traditional folk honesty and ear-tingling innovation.
Without a doubt, Riverbed has traveled into new areas beyond previous albums such as Ice and Blood and Any Day Now. The band has a level of cohesion and fullness that sustains throughout the entire album. There aren’t any songs that split up the vibe. Riverbed takes the listener through a forty-eight minute joyride through elation and wonder with songs like “Modern Age”…and melancholy triumphantocity with “The Great Escape”.
In these busy days, it’s easy to get caught up in material desires and goals without limits. But music is the great equalizer of life. It takes us back to moments that connect us to our emotions. Tiny points in our lives create the latticework of who we really are…and Riverbed makes those connections peaceful, gutsy and joyous.
Pete O’Connell (bass) and Kurt Leege (guitar) transcended all limits of folk music with their work in, “A Life Worth Living”. The song has guitar and bass movements that cleanly mesh the casual sound into a sine-wave/mind-opening conduit for interleaved melodies and counter-melodies. Sounds like these with live instruments are similar to the experimental mnemonic rock patterns of Ashra in their 1970′s album Blackouts.
To say there is a singer in Riverbed would be a falsehood. Sarah Mucho does not simply sing with or over a band in this album. She is the wind that breathes a coherent life-message which both ties the album together but also lifts it to great heights. In the song, “The Bird House” she sings, “Oh, my heart breaks with each passing spring…” and there is absolutely no way to not be pulled into the music. Her voice is beautiful. It’s as if it’s a reverse-anchor that makes the mind fly.
One would be surprised to find out that there is only one violinist for The Sometime Boys. Rebecca Weiner Tompkins (violin) meshes so well with Jay Cowit (percussion) that it feels like there is a larger yet subtle orchestral section. They create an audio fullness that is simply amazing on headphones and I can’t wait to hear the album in my car. Audio delight would be an understatement.
Economics is actually fun to learn – Check out Principles of Microeconomics
The Principles of Microeconomics (Third Edition) by N. Gregory Mankiw is a stupendous introduction to college-level economic theory. The softcover textbook has an ISBN of 0-324-17188-9 and it is from South-Western / Thomson publishing.
What’s the difference between Micro vs: Macro – Economics? In the book you find out that Microeconomics primarily focuses on households and businesses and how they interact in order to distribute, create and exchange wealth.
Unlike books on International Political Economy, this Microeconomics textbook gives real world examples and practical knowledge that anyone can use.
The basics of supply and demand are explored along with an introduction to Adam Smith’s invisible hand theories. The book goes way beyond standard economic winner-takes-all propaganda. It shows that there are consequences and grey-areas in any economy. And there is always room for optimization in any economic system.
Some of the awesome terms a reader of this book will become familiar with include but are by no means limited to are, “elasticity” and “equilibrium” these terms are used constantly on news television programs and radio shows but are rarely explained. After reading the book, you’ll find television quite simplistic even when discussing complex systems like the stock market on TV. By reading this book, you’ll have a firm grasp on everything from how taxes affect prices, to why some farmers choose not to produce any crops in order to acquire subsidies. And how that makes sense!
I can’t stress more strongly how important vocabulary is becoming in today’s marketplace. As citizens, a new bar is being set for “literacy.” In the past, the concept of, “A jack of all trades is a master of none” used to be the determining factor when adults engaged in common discourse. Now there is greater access to knowledge, and people have an expectation that average citizens are, “A Jack of a multitude of trades and a master of a handful of specialties.”
Don’t believe me? Have a conversation with someone that you don’t know, and see how they react when you are able to discuss things in a multifaceted and coherent way. It’s not about respect or pride anymore, it’s about communication. The average American is increasing his or her bandwidth for knowledge and demand stimulation through discussions. If you can’t satisfy that stimulation, you won’t be shunned or disrespected, but you may have a lower level of interaction and may not be able to efficiently realize when opportunities are coming your way.
Books are becoming entertaining and educational. I can’t tell you how many times I laughed out loud when reading The Principles of Microeconomics (Third Edition), the author wants us to not just cram…but know the theories and comprehend the information.
As a man in his early thirties, I can tell you that reading is becoming more and more fun. It’s as if all the information out here is a gigantic gold mine. And instead of having a limit on the amount of gold one can extract from the mine…we are only told to take as much as we can carry.
Don’t settle for your hands or opening your pockets. Expand your mind by reading tons of books and build a wheel-barrel.
If you read the article there will be a link to the control configuration I used. It requires, “Joy2Key” in order to get it to work.
I love the computer game known as, “X-Beyond the Frontier” it is an older game but amazing it is.
The game has to do with an experimental human ship, which ends up in the wrong part of the galaxy. (Actually, I don’t even know if I’m in the milky way galaxy at all! That’s how lost I am in this game.)
You start out very confused and in debt to reptilian creatures that are very nice.
No seriously…you owe them credits for how they repair your ship. And they want compensation. So you have to go out and buy low and sell high in order to repay your debt and continue on your merry way.
Although this game is designed for a casual joystick with only a few buttons and a keyboard. It is possible to get it working properly with an advanced flight stick like the Saitek X52 Flight Stick. As you can see from the video below, I’m using the X52 to control every aspect of the game so far, including the buying and selling of products…and communication with bases and trading ports.
Even though there are some tools that I haven’t attached or “bound” to my X52 controller, I’m waiting until I actually acquire those items in the game before I bind those keyboard controls to the flight stick. This way I don’t have a cluttered joystick with a lot to memorize.
CLICK HERE for a link to the Joy2Key configuration file that I made so far.
The file is called, xbeyond-joy2k.zip and if you unzip it, there will be a configuration file.
You will need version 5.2.1 of Joy2Key in order to properly use this configuration file (newer versions of the program may work. But I definitely recommend using version 5 if possible). If you are unsure what Joy2Key is and you want to learn more, I wrote an article on Joy2Key which goes into depth into the program. That article is available HERE.
joy2key is an awesome program that allows gamers to “Map” their preferred keyboard controls to specific buttons on a controller or joystick. In the case of X-Beyond the Frontier, there is a specific ship addon which allows a player to feel like he or she is traveling faster than her top speed which is called, SETA.
For some reason, this SETA (when purchased) is automatically mapped to the “E” button on the throttle portion of a Saitek X52 flight control stick. The problem is that the “E” button is very sensitive and it often clicks the SETA off and on repeatedly.
I mapped the “SETA” activation button to the small extra button on the throttle section of my X52. Being able to navigate through the trading screens without having to touch the PC keyboard makes the X-Beyond the Frontier experience much more immersive and enjoyable.
Check out the video below to see how much fun this is!
Game Design: Secrets of the Sages by Marc Saltzman is such a great resource for a budding programmer/game designer. The book has an ISBN# 1-57595-673-X.
I can easily say I love this book. I’ve been reading this 4th edition (which I’ve had for years but never got around to reading) consistently for the past 8 months. It’s about 550 pages long. And since it’s mostly down-to-earth advice, I read it in little blurbs of a few pages at a time.
Here’s what you’ll find in the book:
1. Every edition is different. The Fourth Edition has advice on Game Design, Game Testing, Game Production, Programming and getting into the industry. But what makes each edition truly different is the time when it is written. Since the Fourth Edition is from 2002, it has great insight into the “Post Golden Age” of gaming. So you get interviews with people who make Jazz Jackrabbit, Dragon’s Lair, Lionhead Studio’s Peter Moleneux (albeit his interviews tend to be short). So keep that in mind if you get an earlier or later edition. The edition will affect the content and the gaming perspective.
2. ADVICE THAT YOU NEED. I loved the comments in the book about target audiences. There’s a gem of a tidbit of insight that says most game designers try to make games for teenage boys. Yet the biggest demographic to-date for people who actually purchase and play games are Grandmothers! I had no idea! (Time for me to brush up on my probability training and learn how to make a dice/card game!)
3. Repetitive mind-pounding conversations. The editor asks questions that are must-know level of information. Such as: “What should new programmers do to get a job in the industry?” – “Where should a budding game designer start?” and many more questions. And even though there is some repetition in what the interviewees say, that consistency in message helps to dissuade any delusions that a young designer may have. (In my case I really needed to read in writing how a portfolio of completed mods and/or projects is important above all else.)
This is more of a mental note to myself. But I’m sharing it with you all.
Sometimes when I read books. I find secret little hints. In this book, there was an interview with Will Wright of Maxis Software. He made the Sims and many other extremely successful games. He says that he read an excellent book called, “A Pattern Language” from Oxford University Press (1977) and this book helped him come up with the Sims.
I bookmarked this page so I’d make a note of it. Now this book is one that I’d like to read. Perhaps I’ll reward myself by purchasing this book after I finish my next project for Android!