Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tea of the Day: Chai and Mango Green

Hey y'all.  So I let my mom pick the next flavor from the Boston Tea Company box, and she picked chai.  I was a little nervous about this one, as the last chai I had wasn't that great.  Again, that was Republic of Tea.  That version was too spicy and not really flavorful enough.  It was like drinking a cup of hot pepper.

This chai, however, was nothing like that.  I had a bag of it at work, and even when the bag soaked for too long (y'know, work calls), the tea wasn't too strong.  It was really enjoyable.  Boston Tea Company is really shaping up to be a great brand.

Bentley's on the other hand, isn't proving to be much.  I had their mango green tea, and it was meh.  I could taste it before my mouth even reached the tea, and that's a problem.  The mango was sour, and for some reason the green tasted sort of separate from the mango.  It didn't blend, and was very bitter.  It leaves a dark aftertaste in my mouth.

I think that tea is going to find its way into Dad's cabinet.  He likes different fruit teas.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Tea of the Day: French Vanilla and Ginger Peach

Hey y'all.  So does anyone know why they call it French vanilla?  What's so French about it?  At the coffeeshop I used to work at, "French" vanilla meant adding a shot of hazelnut to the latte.  Huh.  Hazelnut's not bad.  Get it in your next latte when you get a chance.  Though I have no idea if that's in this tea.  Um....

*looks at package* Okay, Chinese and Indian black tea, and also vanilla flavoring.  No hazelnut.  And also no indication of what's so French about it, other than the name.  Note that this is from the Bentley's tea, and that the Boston Tea Company box didn't come with vanilla.  Which is fine with me, as that means I get more flavors.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p26): Toby...Out of Danger?

Toby didn't know how long he'd been running.  He didn't know where he was running.  All he knew was that he was in some foreign country, probably in Asia, where he didn't know the language and hadn't a scrap of paper to legitimize his presence there.  He'd run for several minutes now from a crowd of Asians, and now was lost in the hilly countryside of what he could only guess was China.  Whoever it was after him, they'd given up the chase.  Thanks to his work out regimen, Toby was far more athletic than the five foot farmers on his tail.  Still, he dodged past trees and over many hills before he stopped running.

Now lost, Toby stopped with a gasp and sat on a stump next to a one lane dirt road.  He sat there getting his breath, almost able at his circumstances.

"Well..." Toby muttered between breaths.  "Charlie probably can't find us now.  We're all lost.  Heh, what an adventure this has turned out to be."

At this point, Toby soured.  Even his false cheer paled when he remembered Bethany and Statkus.  He'd gotten away, but surely they hadn't.  He didn't see what happened to Bethany, but he'd heard Statkus cry out as he fell.  Toby's stomach tightened.  Not only was he alone, but he'd abandoned the others he should have done something to help.  He hoped that they understood that he wanted to survive, but all the same, his conscious burned a hole in his chest.  What was done was done, though, and he was at the point where he had to decide for himself what to do next.

"I wish I'd asked Bethany more questions." Toby pulled himself off the stump.  The run had taken it out of him, but he was to restless to do nothing.  "She seemed like she knew what she was talking about.  Just this once, at least."

He chuckled as he remembered her personality analysis.  "Heh, some hero I am.  I don't think Raynor or Fenix would have run off like that."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tea of the Day: Pomegranate

Hey y'all.  In the effort to both update more often and exercise my need to rant, I'm going to talk about my Christmas presents from my sister and her boyfriend: two tea kits.  One is just a sample of a bunch of teas, and the other is a more fancy bit that comes in a wooden box.  It's super cute, and even has little metal handles.  It sort of looks like a cigar box.

So I'll be doing tea reviews of what I got.  Are you here to read that stuff?  I dunno.  Maybe you'll be willing to try new things after reading it.  After all, tea is pretty amazing.

The thing about these kits is that they're not meant to be gifted together; there's a couple of repeat teas in them.  For example, I have two kinds of pomegranate.  The box version, by The Boston Tea Company, is a Chinese green tea with pomegranate.  The kit version has both Chinese and Indian black tea, by Bentley's.

What surprised me about the black tea is that the pomegranate was more obvious, despite the fact black tea leaves more of a "stain" of flavor.  Unfortunately, there was a bit too much pomegranate for my taste.  The trouble with fruit flavor in teas is that it can be very easily overwhelming if you leave the bag in for anything longer than two minutes.  And then of course risk not getting the full tea flavor.

On the other side of that, the Boston Tea Company's pomegranate didn't have enough flavor.  Sure, it was flavored enough so that you could tell what fruit it was, but just barely.  Someone who didn't know it was pomegranate might not be able to point it out.  I let the bag soak in the tea at least five minutes, so clearly it didn't quite have enough flavor.

To be honest, BTC wins this round.  I'm not a huge fan of feeling like my mouth is full of what feels like un-sugared Kool-Aid -- I don't ever sweeten my tea, and I don't think that would help if the fruit flavoring is too strong.  My dad found the Bentley's to be really good, so perhaps it's just a matter of opinion.

So which do you prefer?  Too much flavor or too little?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Updates, huh?

Hey y'all.  Sorry I haven't updated in a bit.  I am working on another Me and Aldaris post, and I have two more Trek movies to review, but it's the Christmas season, and there's being a little mini addition to the family yesterday.  Or so I'll use as an excuse.  To be fair, this blog has always been a bit more about my rabid ranting than actually putting out something people want to read.  Though of course I try on that front.

In any case, I will be doing some writing here, but my main priorities in life include school and writing something that's actually publishable and can earn me a bit of cash.  Writing for free is fun, and I seem to be better at it, but eventually what I do has to make me money.  There's that whole thing about eating, and all.

In any case, there will be some writing here soon.  I'm about halfway or so done with the Me and Aldaris post, and I always enjoy ranting about Trek or whatnot, so I'll finish that mini series.  I also have a blog about questions I want to ask normal people that I can finish up.  As far as other things, like my personality environment type stuff, I don't really have any plans to continue that in the future, unless specifically requested.  Nothing is quite so inspiring as a request.

For now, comment feedback, positive or negative.  Or just say the first thing that comes to your head.  Peanut butter pineapple pie.  ....Ew.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Nitpickery -- Star Trek: Generations

Alright, the first of the Next Gen Star Trek movies…which I am for some reason tackling third to last, but whatever.  In any case, this movie apparently only got made because Gene Roddenberry died, and Gene did not want the two generations of Star Trek to ever merge.  Honestly, the idea might have worked, if most of the original cast weren’t so old.  DeForest Kelley couldn't get the insurance required to appear on film, and that knocked him out of the cast.  Leonard Nimoy was offered the director's chair, and quite frankly, I think he could have done a good job.  However, he had problems with the script and didn't have time to fix them.  So he passed.  Apparently he passed on acting in it too.

I don't know why Nichelle Nichols wasn't in it, but George Takei refused to do the part if it meant that he would have to serve for Kirk again.  He claimed Sulu worked too hard to get a demotion, even a temporary one.  I don't know about Sulu, but Takei certainly worked hard.  He's been begging for captaincy since Star Trek 2.  Thing is, the movie makers cast a girl as his daughter, so he could at least have made a cameo to see his daughter on her first job on a spaceship.

So that left Scotty and Chekov to appear in the movie that was supposed to merge Original Series and Next Generation.  It's at this point that the filmmakers really should have rewritten the movie.  After all, if you have only three of the actors, and a three that don't really make sense together, then why bother?  Just take Kirk to the future and be done with it.  Or don't bring Kirk in at all.  Or, since Vulcans live long, have future Spock meet past Kirk and they can hang out.

Or just, y'know, make a Next Gen movie.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p25): Everything is going wrong.

This has been a pretty crappy day so far.  First my apartment gets on fire, then I get shoved into a creepy hotel, then I get magically transported to China, where me and one of my co-conspirators and I are in what I suppose is a Chinese police station.  Yes, I'm sure it's China now.  I know what the word for "exit" in Chinese looks like (I think), and they flashed by me briefly as two short Asians shoved me through the old concrete of some kind of law enforcement center.

We must be getting the special treatment, because we're not crammed in a cell with other sketchy figures.  I'm stuck in a concrete box just barely taller than me, where the cot in the back left corner and the pot in the other call to mind images of The Gulag Archipelago. Unlike Solzhenitsyn, however, the place isn't overcrowded, and the narrow, rectangular window at the top isn't blocked entirely.  It's just barred, and a peek through it shows a rather quaint scene.  Quaint once you get past the yard of half-dead grass and barbed wire fence lining it.  I could just barely make out a few shops or homes (it was hard to tell at the distance) where a few people meandered about with baskets.  A guy drove by on a bike.  

I shivered and turned away from the window.  It's hard to feel sorry for yourself when other people very nearby have it worse.  Planting my cold self on the cot, I started thinking about Statkus.  I sure hope he's okay.  It was so freaky when he fell down that hill and smashed his head.  Technically it wasn't smashed, thank God, but he hurt himself pretty bad.  When the blood started gushing down his face, the Chinese guys after us started freaking out.  I thought for a minute that they would chill out and not be so mad with us after that for sitting on their property, but no, not so much.  A couple of the guys got out some rags and cleaned up Statkus' face, and he just seemed pretty dazed.

I don't know how hurt he was.  They let me look at him for a little bit, and I couldn't see any bone or anything like that.  Statkus looked like he was gonna hurl, though.  There's nothing quite like being both out of one's element and bashed in the head to boot, as well as being in a completely implausible place.  Hopefully nothing serious is wrong with Statkus, but that's got to be an injury that needs stitches.

At that point, all the Chinese people seemed to chill out somewhat.  Sure, some of the guys were still mad at us, but a couple of women showed up at that point and did some yelling at them.  A really cute lady in a modern looking set of jeans and shirt tried to talk to me, but the only Chinese words I know are "nee-hou" (hello) and "gwhy-lo" (white devil).  I forgot how to say "black devil" in Chinese, only that it vaguely sounds like the word "yellow".  The men in the gathering crowd said both words plenty of times, I can assure you of that.  Given that nobody came up with Toby in tow, I figured he got away.  At first I was glad I didn't run, so that I could stay with Statkus and make sure he's cool, but now I'm in my special white devil concrete box, and who knows where Statkus is?

That's the thing I don't get about all this.  Normal Chinese people are pretty cool, and the weirdest thing they do is stare at you.  Are they really going to get all that worked up about three strangers, even foreign ones?  The only thing weird about us was that Statkus wasn't wearing shoes.  And that we had no travel papers.  Or money.  Or identification.  And can't speak the language.  And that two of us ran like mofos when a guy called us out.  Okay, so we're plenty strange.  Still, what's the point in getting all worked up about us?

Of course, then again, the last time I was in China, I peeked out of the train window to see a line of tanks.  People don't talk much about China's communism, but it's still there.  As near as I can figure, the locals had some sort of problem they're blaming on us (I really hope Aldaris' recall unit didn't do anything), or that we landed near a communist....oh, what do they call them?  In the Gulag Archipelago, they were called "village soviets", where there was a communist official in charge of each collective farm.  Who knows how much the Chinese kept of Soviet culture, especially now that Russia's free again and there's no Soviets around to impress?  Maybe there's no village soviet.  I still haven't a clue why they were so mad at us.  Was it because I used korean?

All I know is, after a while, some local cops shoved me and Statkus in the back of a car.  It was one of those really cute three-wheeled cars, with two in the back and one in the front.  My dad says those are dangerous, but we made it to the police station alright.  At this point, some of the cops realized that the villagers (is that what they were?) must have overreacted to our presence.  They were a lot calmer than the farmer guys, and some of them knew enough english to ask for our passports.  Have I ever mentioned how much I hate language barriers?  Surely you can guess how frustrating it is to be in a foreign land with no passport to give and only enough knowledge to say, "hello, white devil".  I'm sure as heck not saying that to a cop.  I think they just shoved us in the cells because they didn't know what else to do.  That is, if Statkus is in a cell.  They could be taking care of him.  Prolly are.  Don't see why they wouldn't be.  They didn't search me to take my notebook, so maybe they're not mad at us.

Oh crap.  By now one of the cops surely has called a big-wig about us foreigners.  Pretty soon someone who does know english will arrive, and guess who gets to explain everything to them.  Son of a bleep.  It occurred to me that I could lie, but what would I say?  That I'm a lost student?  They'd ask where I was staying in China and where I was learning.  That I have family nearby?  Pfft.  That an alien with near-magical and definitely malfunctional teleportation abilities zapped us all here by accident?  It's pretty sad that that's the best story we have.

They haven't taken my picture yet, but more than likely they will.  Crap, Aldaris better find us soon.  I don't want to be involved in an international incident!  Statkus got his face busted up, and I'm not wearing any makeup, and guess what two faces are going to be in the papers? Either Aldaris better find us soon, or he may be better off just abandoning us, from his perspective.  After all, we can't prove that an alien did this to us.  Wow.  I really hope Aldaris isn't that big of a scumbag, but we're talking about a guy who didn't care about human collateral when destroying Zerg-infested planets.  Oh my crap, he's totally going to backstab us.  Oh my crap...

I really hope Toby got away.  If it was possible, I'd pretend that he wasn't with us.  Maybe then he could find some way home from here....yeah right.  Go across the planet without someone discovering him and asking questions?  Not likely.  If he's very, very lucky, he can find a western embassy and pretend he has amnesia.  Please God, let Toby get to the embassy and pretend he has amnesia.  At least one of us needs to get out of this without creating an international incident.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Nitpickery -- Star Trek: First Contact

Hey y'all.  So I watched Star Trek: First Contact.


Even when I was a child and didn't know any better -- you know how little kids can't tell good movies from bad --  I didn't like this movie.  The reasons for this were uncertain at the time, but to me it was simply a muddle of one thing and then another.  Sure, there were cool visuals about it, and a lot of people like this movie.  If you're someone who likes this, I don't mean to criticize you.  It's just that this is not really a quality film, and I'm here to nitpick whatever comes my way. 

Spoilers, of course.

This film is just so meh.  It was really a struggle for me to even finish it, as it wasn't horrible enough to be funny nor good enough to be interesting.  I love subtext and hidden meaning, but the subtext of this film?  Well, we'll get there when we get there.

----- Ten Things I'll Say about Star Trek: First Contact -----

10. This movie is dumb on its very premise.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Nitpickery: Star Trek, The Motion Picture

Hey y'all.  It's been an interesting week, to say the least.  First of all, my apartment building caught on fire.  Yep, that's not just a plot device in my fanfic.  Actually, I was very lucky.  The fire didn't come down to the first floor, and there was very little water damage where I was.  So most of my possessions made it out fine.  I'm in a new place, and everything is basically cool, though there was a day of frantic packing as we had to get everything out of the apartment -- the fire department thought that the roof might fall in from the rain.  It hasn't so far, but why push it?

So yeah.  It didn't do much more than interfere with my schedule.  I had a lot of homework due, but unable to turn in due to lack of internet access and for a time separation from the textbooks I needed to complete it.  Tomorrow I expect a pretty frantic time of scrambling around to get what I can done.  Also, it's caused me to fail NaNoWriMo.  You can't really work on a novel when you're moving in the rain, cramped in a sinus-drying and sort of creepy hotel, behind on obligations, or so tired you're about to pass out.  I expect that a lot of my future writing time is going to be concerned with finishing school work.  I'm just happy that most of my current classes don't have finals.

But there was a funny coincidence.  So I have temporary access to a lot of books and movies for free because of my job at a bookstore, and I was just about to turn in Star Trek IV to get Star Trek: the Motion Picture, to watch for this review.  But of course the fire happened, and I didn't want to bring the store's property to the hotel to be potentially lost.  That, and I didn't have anything to watch it with -- my poor baby laptop was locked in the building that first night, and I spent several intense hours wondering if it was okay.  I'm happy to say that she's completely unharmed.

But in any case, in the hotel I was getting settled in and trying to relax, and you know what came on TV?  The Motion Picture.  I could hardly believe it.  Maybe it was God trying to make me feel better about things, and letting me know he was watching out for me.  He certainly was, from how much of my stuff made it out of the apartment.  In any case, I stayed up far too late to watch the movie, and I must say I enjoyed the crap out of it.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p24): Smells Like China

I wasn't napping this time.  This time I was sitting on the hotel bed, waiting for the hot water pot to finish so I could cook some ramen.  Mmm...ramen.  I'd already cut up some broccoli and tomato to put in it.  It was beef flavor, of course.  I don't like the other ones.  Wait, nevermind, I do kind of like the shrimp flavor.  Which is weird, because I don't like shrimp for real.

Oh wait, we're talking about adventure, not food.  Well, that's how this adventure started out: I'm sitting here in a hotel room, wondering what I wanted to stuff in the microwave.  The creepy, creepy hotel microwave.  Actually, this place isn't so bad.  It's way better than that really sketchy hotel I had to stay at in China, with the windows and lace curtains so that anyone in the room could see what was happening in the bathroom.  Don't ask.

In any case, this hotel didn't have that.  What it also didn't have were all the possessions I didn't have with me when I was at school.  That's right, my house caught fire.  I don't know what it was, but since it was up in the roof, the firemen think it could be something electrical.  It's not like I ever go up there.

The thing that pisses me off the most is that it was my fantasy house.  I don't care that the back deck was warped from the rain or that it was putrid color of spoiled mustard yellow.  I like spoiled mustard yellow.  It was my little writer's home, a place where I was hidden away from the world without being far from it.

But whatever.  The damage wasn't bad...from the fire.  Water damage is the main problem.  Well, it could have been worse.  Now all there was to do was sit here and wait for them to let me in my house for the rest of my stuff.  And I'd just bought a nice dress, too.

I was attempting to amuse myself with an Anne McCaffery novel when all of a sudden a blue cloud formed around me.  Great, another random transport.  Seriously, if Aldaris wants to stay hidden he's going to have to do something about that recall whatever.  I was mad.  I was starving, and it's not all that probably that Cheonha would bring food both times she got accidentally zapped up to the alien starship.  So for the few seconds it took to reappear, I cherished the hope that one of the guys would accidentally have a bag of chips or something in his hands when he gets recalled.

Only it didn't work out that way.  When the blue fog cleared away, I wasn't on Aldaris' ship.  I was standing next to a two lane dirt road on the middle of a steep hill.  The upwards slope was dotted with trees, and went far up above my head.  The downward side allowed for a view of another forest below, as well as a farm down and to the left.  I backed away from the edge.

"So you're here too?"

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Me and Aldaris (p23): Charlie and Cheonha

Aldaris was lucky. It was over a month since Kensley had been gone, and he still never returned to his lonely home in the countryside of California. That meant Aldaris had the place more or less to himself and Raasha, the human's dog. If he told the time to read the dog's collar, he might have discovered its real name, but Aldaris preferred the one he'd given it. Raasha was a mighty animal hero in Protoss legend, and though the creature wasn't an Earth dog, this particular canine almost resembled a picture Aldaris had seen in a picture book from his childhood. So Raasha it was.

All the same, Aldaris was not entirely heartless. From time to time as he sat in the sunlight of Kensley's large backyard and basked in the shower's of Earth's star, he thought about the human who lived there. Kensley had left the home because something bad had happened to his daughter, and if it was taking her this long to recover, it must have been a devastating accident.

Still, Aldaris needed the sunlight. Staying on his ship exhausted him, even when he turned the sun panels inward and allowed the light to enter his study. Somehow this was just not the same as sitting under the sun on the human homeworld, not to the Judicator's weary nerves. Though he had been there only the day previous, Aldaris sat once again amongst the sparse trees, absorbing sunlight as he varied between meditation, drawing various trees on his stand-up sketchpad, and simply playing with Raasha.

Aldaris looked upward. The noontime sun, wonderful as it felt, was starting to sink down. He knew he had to get out of there; the neighbor that fed Raasha generally showed up about one o'clock. Not eager to show himself to more humans than he had already. Aldaris reluctantly touched the quorrian embelm on his shoulder. His ship summoned him, and when Aldaris re-opened his eyes (the recall process always made him a bit queasy), it was the controls of his ship he saw around himself.

He shut down the teleporter with the touch of a key. For a few moments, he stood there in silence. Coming back to the sheltered corridors of the Juniadros was always a let down after basking in bright sunlight. That, and with a stirring in his heart, Aldaris reviewed his impossible task list: on the Juniadros, the only things to do were beyond his capabilities.

Repairing the ship? It worked as well as it ever had, as far as normal travel went. Aldaris had used the extent of his Judicator's training in machinery to keep it running, and if something out of that range went wrong, he was out of luck. Securing fuel to maintain his orbit? Well, he could keep going for a few years, if all he ever did was simply orbit. That didn't count whatever fuel he would use to get back home. And there lay the rub; his last task was to run through his ship's trajectory records, and using that massively complex set of numbers, calculate a way to go back. And that was assuming he'd traveled to Earth on his ship's power alone. If something else had catapulted him to the past....

Aldaris shook his head. It did no good to think like that, and if his mind dwelt too much on the possibility of being stuck on Earth, he would lose it. For now, Aldaris touched various control panels, and many of the lights on the eight viewscreens shut down. Low power mode would help conserve the Juniadros' fuel for the way back, whenever he got around to finishing the calculations. Theoretically, Aldaris had completed them. Over and over. But, as only an average talent at higher maths, Aldaris didn't trust his own numbers to keep him safe, and he couldn't compensate for the strange power surge that sent him back almost five hundred years, as well as several millions of lightyears in a direction he didn't know.

"Hn'dara macjolineer." the alien muttered as he continued shutting down the recall unit's controls. "P'kashi na yulunterna. ...Eeyntu?"