• The Importance of Pizza Peels

    May 6, 2016

    In the continuing adventures with supermarket pre-made pizza dough, I have “successfully” constructed my first pie! Not everything went to plan, though:

    Pretty pizza!OH NOThe misshapen aftermath

    Making the pizza itself, spreading the dough out and adding some toppings, was not bad. However, I made it on top of a silicone grease splatter guard, it being the only pizza-shaped conveyance device I had in the house; when I tried to put the pizza laden with topping onto the pre-heated stone, it just flopped off all at once and lost its roundness. I was able to unfold it somewhat and recover the pizza later. It tasted OK, but it was really the failure to transfer the pizza that bugged me. It felt like failure, and perhaps this is what I tasted in the pizza afterwards…


    Pizza Royale Pizza Peel It’s a pizza peel! You put flour on it before you put the pizza on, then you shimmy it left and right and slide the pizza right off it onto the stone with a quick pulling motion. That’s the theory as I understand it anyway. This one is made by a company named Pizza Royale, and it’s made of “ethically-sourced bamboo”. I like bamboo utensils, and I liked the way the company portrayed their mission to create an affordable, well-designed pizza peel so all could enjoy a fresh pie in their own home. It seems solid. I’m going to give it a try tonight.

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  • Groundhog Resolutions Review #3 (May 2016)

    May 5, 2016

    Hong Kong International Airport, Terminal 2 It’s May 6th here in Hong Kong International Airport, but it’s still May 5, Groundhog Resolutions Review Day back in Boston! I’ve got to board a flight to Taiwan in about an hour, so this will be a quick post. In summary, the last month saw the crumbling of my daily scheduled goal work and the discovery of live streaming as another way to motivate myself to work on tedious and time-consuming supporting tasks for my 2024 goals. The last post I wrote on the subject, Recovering from Goals Crashing does a pretty good job of summarizing what happened, so with that I’ll get on to a shortened version of the review and get us up-to-date.

    But first: HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! May 5th happens to be Dad’s birthday as well as other fun holidays! Ok, on with the posting! (more…)

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  • Taiwan Bound, Again!

    May 4, 2016

    Taiwan Bound I have been pretty quiet for the past couple of weeks, particularly with regards to my “Groundhog Day Resolutions” goals. That’s because I’ve been really pre-occupied with a month-long trip to Taiwan, the land of my ancestors, where I shall again attempt to engage with a semi-familiar but mystifying culture. I have always felt something like a “failure” in terms of engaging with my cultural heritage despite ample opportunities to embrace it, as a mixture of embarrassment and feeling like an outsider wreaked havoc with my adolescent sense of self. Now that I’m almost 50 (!) I’m thinking that maybe I can tame those old childhood demons.

    This is the second trip of a demon-taming nature; I also went last year and, like a nervous cat investigating a new home, got adjusted to the sights and smells of the place again. This time I’m hoping to travel more, be less apologetic/guilty about being a Taiwanese-American that can’t read or speak either Taiwanese or Mandarin, and try to have a good attitude about everything. Attitude is really important! It can change everything! I have to keep telling myself this! And add exclamation points whenever possible!

    I’m at home waiting for the Flightline Shuttle to drive me to Logan Airport, then I’m on a red-eye flight direct to Hong Kong via Cathay Pacific. This is my first time flying Cathay Pacific, which is supposed to be an excellent airline. I’m shutting off computers now, giving a tearful goodbye to my other cat Kate, and am doing a last check of the house security before heading out the door. I have new glasses that have a blue frame, and I am also wearing a Star Wars t-shirt under my shirt because it is MAY 4TH; I couldn’t let that go uncelebrated!

    My May 5th Groundhog Day post will likely be late. Will be back in about 36 hours!

    About this Article Series

    This blog post is part of a series about reconnecting with my heritage in Taiwan while testing my mettle as a traveler, covering my second trip trip in May 2016. All posts are collected on The Taiwan Travel Challenge 2016 Page.

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  • PAX EAST 2016

    April 29, 2016

    Dave at PAX EAST Last Friday I went to PAX EAST at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center (BCEC). This is a GIANT gaming show, covering both video games and tabletop games, that pulls in something like 15,000+ gamers every day the show is on, and it’s the smaller of the two shows in North America. My friends Sid and Sara were going, so I ordered a $50 Friday-only pass months in advance to reserve my spot in this two hour line to get inside the convention center:

    long lines We had eaten a nice breakfast, plenty of eggs and sausage, at the hotel nearby to power us through the day; this is an old trick I learned from attending previous multi-day conventions like SXSW, allowing you to skip lunch entirely and avoid the crowds. Doors opened, officially, at 10AM, and the line was already snaking around the BCEC. We were able to get in around 1145AM; the reason for the delay (which I hadn’t remembered from previous years) was due to the bag and body scanning being performed by the Boston police at every entrance. It was horrible, but necessary.

    Gears of War boothStreet Fighter V competitionRainbow Six Seige Pro Gaming Area

    Once inside, we were able to head into the main exhibition hall, where there were a number of games being demoed in a celebratory gamer manner. There were also more long lines to try the games out; my goal was just to “charge up” on the shared gamer energy that permeated the space. I watched a few people play the new Gears of War 4 (I don’t have current gen console, so I had not seen it), checked out the Street Fighter V competition going on, and then got sucked into watching the Rainbow Six Seige pro-gaming event nearby. I’ve been playing Rainbow Six a lot recently, thanks to my cousin Jason who got me into it a few weeks ago. It’s a violent game on the surface, pitting terrorists against counter-terrorists in challenging fight-to-the-death scenarios, but it also fascinates me. Unlike an arcade action game, playing Rainbow Six is like being John McClane in DIE HARD, carefully sweeping through various environments to save the day against the terrorists. Playing cooperatively with my cousins requires a lot of communication and mindfulness as we move to engage the hostiles, and it tickles my brain. It was an unexpected treat to see how TOP GAMERS on the professional game circuit played the game; I could immediately see just how much we had to learn.

    PC LAN Gaming Area There were many other group PC gaming areas, like this huge array of Cybertron PCs, Microsoft Surface tablets, and even a bunch of high-end VR rigs. It was cool to see, but I wanted to keep moving and see what else was going on in the exhibition space.

    Double Fine BoothOpen Air PC CaseSteel Series Keyboards There were a lot of indie developers in the main exhibition area, for example Double Fine had their presence; this is the company that had the first really huge Kickstarter campaign for their throwback graphic adventure Broken Age. It was great to see so many small gaming companies really making a push to make games of all styles and genres…it was really inspiring! It also made me realize just how small and insignificant my own video game making efforts are by comparison with all the talent and time that is going into the industry now. Good thing I’m not part of it anymore, otherwise I’d be stressed-out! :D

    I also saw some neat PC hardware, such as a cool open-air PC case and several awesome-looking keyboards. I almost bought a mouse from Steel Series, the Danish gaming peripheral company, but the lines again were long, and we had to hit the road back to New Hampshire.

    Tabletop Gaming Area  One of the last areas I checked out was the tabletop gaming area, which covered a lot of space and had a lot of people just playing board games together. I think the real PAX experience must be in staying overnight for the entire 3-day convention and making friends playing these games; just going in for the day doesn’t let you have those formative encounters. If I can swing a 3-day pass next year, I might book the hotel and just think of it as a mini-vacation. I’m really not a gamer these days, and I’m pretty old for the demographic, but I love energy and creativity. I’m sure there’s a few elder nerds that attend PAX that I could find. Maybe in the retrogaming lounge!

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  • Kitten, Teach me the Way of Life

    April 28, 2016

    I saw this great O’Reilly book cover parody on Twitter from @thepracticaldev:

    Kitten Knows Best How to learn any new programming concept: Essential Changing Stuff and Seeing What Happens You tell it, kitten! This works for a lot of things!

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