31.03.2008

Beigles

The fact that I do not know how you spell it in English does not prohibit me from enjoying them immensely. I remember eating them almost every day when I was studying in Krakow. You know, sort of a easily affordable student fast food. I have checked, and according to Wikipedia we have, in Poland, three closely related buns that are produced from yeast dough, which is boiled for a short period of time before baking. Wikipedia is not very specific what are differences but notes that many make a mistake of naming them improperly.
Well, I do not really care, as in my quest to become a perfect house hen I achived another important landmark - I have learned how to bake beigles!
All credit goes to author of this website, I am just translating and adding some useless remarks. Well, maybe I am too hard on myself. I have found two recopies and remarks contain synthesis of what I think is best.

Ingredients:


Dough:
  • 1 1/2 cup of lukewarm water
  • 4 cups of flour (I am mixing all-purpose flour with some full-grain or rye flour)
  • 30 g of yeast
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar
Additionally:
  • 3 tablespoons of baking soda/2l of water
  • 1 egg
  • Sesame, poppy seeds, thick sea-salt
  • Some paper towels and a brush.
  • Preheat the oven to 250 C.

Preparation:

Mix all dough ingredients in a bowl. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Leave for approximately one hour, cover bowl with a cloth or something similar, so the dough won't dry.
Divide the dough into 12 pieces, make balls and make a hole in the center with your finger. Leave them on the table for 30 min.
Boil water in the pot, add baking soda (I am a bit uncomfortable about this. I have decreased the amount to 2 spoons, but I guess you can skip it altogether).
Boil the beigles, one by one for few seconds (according to second recipe it should be 1,5 min and I was boiling for that long). Flip them, while they are inside the pot so both sides are in contact with water. Dry them on paper towel and put on the baking plate covered with baking paper.
Use a brush to cover upper side of beigles with scrambled egg and apply topping to your taste. This is a good part. I love sesame and I remember being always convinced that street vendors reap me by selling me the ones with least amount of sesame. As you can guess, due to this traumatizing experience I am quite generous with the topping. Better yet, why not mix poppy seed, sesame and salt!?
After you sprinkle your beauties with topping brush some more egg, so the topping will be firmly fixed.
Now you are good to go, except one additional trick - I am using it as well for baguettes so the skin is more crisp - sprinkle some water in the oven so you have some steam inside before you put your beigles inside. Bake until they are brownish, it should be around 15 min.
Remember, if you eat them while hot you tummy can hurt so try to be patient!

25.03.2008

Linux, Wine and Games

I remember my first attempts at use linux. I made a resolute decision not to give up but it was hard. Time and time again I needed to boot windows to use this or that program. I found linux to be exotic and tempting but frustrating at the same time. I remember that there was a little hope under the name of WINE - a program that allows running windows programs under linux. I spend hours trying to get anything to run. Mostly without success. Slowly I gave up, using and finding more and more open source applications. After over three years of using Ubuntu on the daily basis, both at home and at work, I found that there is just one thing I need Windows - games. That being said, I am not playing nowadays so much. Every now and then I decide to waste some time playing some strategy or RPG, only to find out that I am bored quickly and return to linux to to some other stuff. Of course having Playstation 2 is also a factor diminishing my need to use Windows.
I will describe wider how one can entertain himself using linux and floss some other time. Now I will stay on the topic of games. Recently I decided to give a try to WINE one more time, not because I needed to. Simply because I was bored.
WINE is slowly getting closer to version 1.0 and I can just say - it shows. I was able to run "Baldurs Gate" without a hitch, a feat in itself if you consider that running it under XP is not that straightforward. Later I found out that games from the series of "Age of Wonders" are working as well. Looking at the application database I found out that many others works as well - I was concentrating on strategies mainly - HoMM3, Europa Universalis 2, Starcaft, Worcraft III and many others are functioning quite well. I have a doubtful privilege of having very weak graphic card so most of the 3d games are out of my reach, but I know that you can play Call of Duty, Half Life II, Counter Strike not to mention Unreal and different Quakes.
To sum up - I would need a lot of time to finish good games that one can play using linux and WINE.
If you add to this mix native, open source games, such as Freeciv or Wesnoth, it is really hard to complain. Happy gaming!

22.03.2008

The dawn of the civilization

Recently I have been listening to the 19th episode of the excellent podcast "Game's the Thing" devoted to Reiner Knizia's tile laying games. My attention have been drawn to one game in particular, the "Tigris and Euphrates". I have read about this game before, but the theme wasn't sounding very exciting so I didn't care too much. I was so wrong. Fortunately Ron and his buddies have changed my mind and after a short consultation with my wife, we have decided to invest our money in the game on the account of Easter Bunny present.
The box looked quite solid, so were the insides. I wasn't put off by the manual too much, having been read that the game is on the hard side of things. Now we needed only a chance to play.
Finally we got an opportunity on the Great Saturday. We played with our friend, Tomas. I was the most well read in the ways of T&E having read manual two times, and playing once against the computer in the java version of the game. I have to say that I was expecting to crush my opponents and scatter them to the wind under the wheels of my mighty chariots. I was wrong...
The game started surprisingly quickly, a picture above shows result after, I think, third round. I wanted to illustrate some rule, so I did some stupid move, when my wife, who were claiming she does not understand the game launched a sneak attack and won first war against me.
From here it was downhill and my ambitions were smashed in blood of my minions. Tomas and my evil wife divided the map among themselves and I was like a fifth wheel. I had my moments of glory, thats true. The incredible thing about the game was that, as we played the complexity and strategical possibilities were unraveling in front of us. T&E does not seem like an easy game. Rules are not that complicated, really but after playing I can say that there is plenty of meat to sink your teeth in.
At some point, when everyone was entrenched behaind a wall of temples we found out about catastrophe tiles. I am telling you that was a true nuclear exchange, within two turns there was a lot of gaps in the map.

All in all game was closing to the finish, becoming more and more tense. The devilish rule stating that winner is a person who has the most points in his weakest sphere (farming, settlements, farms and temples) was really getting my blood flowing.
Finally, in the last turn Tomas decided to join two gigantic kingdoms into one, initiating three external wars. He won two against my wife, who in turn took revenge on me, scoring 13 points in one engagement! As a result kingdom was broken into six small fiefdoms! I guess this nicely illustrates the pacifists' point of view.
Then it was a point to reveal who is the winner. I was out having only 13 points in my weakest sphere. We were convinced that Tomas will win, after scoring so many points in the war.
Of course Gosia was the winner. She just has this talent, you know.
All in all, that was a great game and I am really looking forward to repeat this experience.

16.03.2008

Runebound massacre


Another weekend, another game. This week we have been playing "Runebound" - an adventure game form Fantasy flight games, in which players are taking upon themselves roles of brave heroes that try to stop the mighty Dragon Lords from destroying a land of Terrinoth.
As usual, Runebound took us enormous amount of time. We played it with three players, one new to the game, and it took us over 4 h. to finish it. Not your typical party game...
It was quite a fun - killing monsters, collecting money and buing stuff. Diablo of a bordgames, really.
We played with three female characters - an assassin, a runewitch and last, but not least, Red Scorpion, a character with equal skills in each attribute and five hit points, as opposed to four for other players. The only downside of the Red Scorpion, also known as Sister Tittie, was relatively low damage value. The fact that we had only female characters and my wife and our friend Ania have a frivolous sense of humor led to some shockingly bad jokes about methods of enemie distraction...

The game started bad for Ania, whose character was knocked-out three times during the game , due to the bad rolls, causing her to be relatively weaker than our characters.
Unfortunately I feel like a worst munchkin after the game. I have created a monster. I have seen this before, when playing with our other friend. He whipped our backsides terribly creating very powerful combination of magical artifacts.
So did I. Not only I had a really good rolls, but I had also collected some really nifty stuff. One I really liked was a Fetching Imp - a familiar allowing me to buy and sell things without visiting the cities. Few well aimed bombs were also quite useful. Funny thing is that I did not had any very strong weapon, except Soul Rune at the end of the game. I have advanced so quickly, that by the end of the game I had 12 in all skills, meaning that I was automatically hitting most of the yellow challenges. Truth, I had one attack per turn with only two attacks, and I did not posses any "Before Combat" artifacts, but allies filled gaps pretty nicely. I must stress that point - allies are critical. For example I had an Accolyte of the Flame - the useless ally worth one gold coin. But he could soak a damage, and near the end of the game he was able to survive two turns against some terribly powerful dragon and even hurt him a little! I admit that was a sheer luck, but still it is better than facing such a creature alone.
So I won. Not very sporty of me, but it happens. And I am rather glad.
Here are some pictures.

12.03.2008

Mój pierwszy obwód!

Kilka miesięcy temu zainteresowałem się elektroniką. Zastanawiam się jak do tego doszło. Właściwie dość już mam różnych hobby, żeby pakować się w kolejne. Z drugiej strony nie lubię uczucia, że czegoś nie wiem. Niektórym to przeszkadza, ale mnie świadomość, że tak ważny dział współczesnej techniki pozostaje dla mnie niezrozumiały, irytuje mnie niepomiernie. Nie jestem inżynierem i przyznaję, że matematyka i fizyka zawsze sprawiały mi problemy. Na szczęście szkoła/studia się skończyły i nie muszę się martwić, że dostanę pałę, albo zepsuję sobie średnią. Teraz sam wybieram, czego chcę się uczyć.
video
Kolejnym powodem są moje zainteresowania zawodowe. Jako biolog zajmuję się sygnalizacją komórkową - mechanizmami odpowiedzialnymi za regulację procesów komórkowych na wydarzenia zachodzące w środowisku, a także wynikające ze statusu komórki i programu rozwojowego. Ta dziedzina biologii molekularnej zawsze mnie fascynowała i, choć jest niezwykle trudna, to trudno mi sobie wyobrazić bym zajmował się czymś innym w biologii. Oczywiście, choć "wetware" - białka i niskocząsteczkowe substancje sygnałowe to dziedzina odległa od elektroniki, ale nietrudno dostrzec podobieństwa. Im dłużej studiuję tą dziedzinę, tym bardziej dochodzę do wniosku, że poznanie elektroniki, pomoże mi w lepszym zrozumieniu sygnalizacji komórkowej.
W komórce ma miejsce recepcja sygnału (sensory), amplifikacja (kinazy), integracja sygnału (crosstalking), sprzężenie zwrotne itd. Pamiętam że kiedyś czytałem pracę naukową, w której autorzy rozrysowywali szlaki sygnałowe rysując bramki logiczne. Wydaje mi się, że czas poświęcony na nauczenie się podstaw elektroniki, nie będzie czasem straconym.
Nie muszę chyba przekonywać nikogo, że internet jest wspaniałym źródłem wiedzy, także o elektronice. Do tego komponenty są raczej tanie. Nic, tylko brać się do roboty...
Wideo powyżej przedstawia mój pierwszy obwód - zbudowany na bazie timera 555 migacz. Ze wstydem przyznam, że składałem go kilka razy, zanim w końcu zadziałał.

09.03.2008

Puerto Rico

Wczoraj rozegraliśmy z naszymi znajomymi, Jenną i Tomasem, partyjkę "Puerto Rico". Panie rozgromiły nas bez trudu uzyskując 43 (Jenna) i 42 punkty (Gosia) Ja, pomimo, że jak zwykle miałem doskonały plan, skończyłem grę zajmując chlubne ostatnie miejsce. Do diaska!
Porażka nie stępiła mojego entuzjazmu do tej gry, wręcz przeciwnie. "Puerto Rico" jest najciekawszą grą planszową w jaką miałem okazję grać. Zasady sprawiają, że każda decyzja jest trudna. Wszystkie elementy są istotne. Cóż z tego, że masz budynki, jeśli nie ma w nich kto pracować? Co z tego, że masz dużo towarów, jeżeli konkurenci załadowali statki i nie ma miejsca na twój towar? Masz magazyn? Nie? To tracisz towar... Czy Hacjenda to przydatny budynek? A może lepiej zainwestować w Mały targ?

"Puerto Rico" bez wątpienia zasługuje na pierwsze miejsce na Boardgamegeek, dróg do zwycięstwa jest wiele, jest w co się wgryźć. Jak sądzę, "Puerto Rico" będzie jedną z tych gier do których będziemy wracać często. I tylko szkoda, że mamy tak mało okazji by w nią grać.

P.S. Wolf wprowadził sie do naszego mieszkania. Jeszcze się boi, ale powoli eksploruje kolejne pomieszczenia.

03.03.2008

Czekając na Wolfcia...

Razem z żoną wybraliśmy się w zeszłym tygodniu do schroniska dla kotów. Od razu zakochaliśmy sie w ośmiomiesięcznym rudym kotku - Wolfie. Musiał mu się przydarzyć jakiś straszny wypadek albo okropny właściciel bo Wolf ma na głowie paskudną ranę - dziurę w czaszce, na szczęście rana się zagoiła, ale kotek jest bardzo nieśmiały i ucieka od ludzi. Odwiedziliśmy go ponownie w niedzielę i spędziliśmy z nim ponad dwie godziny, co wyraźnie pomogło skruszyć lody. Początkowo nieśmiały, Wolfciu przeobraził się w rozbrykanego urwisa, szczególnie wobec naszego odkrycia, że patyczek z pluszową pandą na sznureczku wydaje głośne szeleszczenie kiedy go potrzeć o palik do ostrzenia pazurków. Kot nie mógł puścić tego płazem pluszowej pandzie i z wielkim entuzjazmem rzucił się do karania jej za niegrzeczne zachowanie. Wreszcie Wolfciu zmęczył się i udał się na spoczynek do swojej starszej koleżanki Huldy. Tutaj dał się wreszcie pogłaskać i, co więcej, zaczął mruczeć, bardzo nas tym uszczęśliwiając. Teraz czekamy tylko na wizytę pań ze schroniska, które zadecydują, czy możemy zabrać Wolfa do domu.
Zapraszam do oglądania zdjęć z naszej wizyty, z góry uprzedzam, że jakość jest słaba, ale złapanie kota w ruchu jest niemalże niewykonalne.