Frozen Landscapes and the Food That Warms Our Hearts

I have been a bit unmotivated lately. While I recorded a bit with the tripod, the footage has been sitting on my hard drive. I will hopefully upload it somewhere this coming week so I can share it with other people. At the very least, I’d like to share the videos before the end of spring, as it would otherwise feel out of place to share them. And while I haven’t been “productive”, I have been occupying my time with other things.

Season two of Snowpiercer began a the end of January and, since a few friends and I were interested in watching it, we decided to watch it together. Due to some scheduling issues (as it happens), it was only recently that we managed to start watching the show. Without going into much detail, I had some reservations. Season one was amazing, but the cliffhanger at the end left me worried that we might see a regression in state. After all, my excitement about this series is the interplay between the characters and the political aspects of the story.

So far, four episodes in, I haven’t been disappointed. It might feel a bit slow on one or two episodes, but it’s easy to see how it serves to set up the stage for the rest of the season. I can’t wait for the next time we get together to watch the new set of episodes, as I’m rather curious about what’s going to happen next.

Meanwhile, I did a Stellaris cooperative play-through with a friend. It is one of the few games that I still keep up with and, since it had an expansion released on the 15th (Nemesis), we wanted to see what was new.

The title feature of this expansion is that now you can bring the end of the universe, and everyone else is now properly encouraged to stop you. And while that aspect is good (if a bit shallow), the other changes are much more interesting to me. The introduction of fog of war changes the early game, and since now there is the concept of not instantly knowing everything about another empire, everything is a bit more nebulous and interesting. At least, that’s my first impression. We did find the changes to population growth a bit too jarring (and the developers agreed that some values need changes), but otherwise it was a great experience.

Since we were too strong to be properly fought by the AI, and we were about to end the game, we sent our entire navies to fight the other end-game crisis. We lost.

Friday’s are pizza days (for the most part), and last week’s Friday we got to eat frozen pizza. It isn’t as good as homemade pizza, but it’s still rather good. Even more so when we consider the difference in effort! As much as we like to eat tasty things, sometimes it’s alright to just throw something together and call it good enough.

However, it did provide me with the perfect opportunity to practice taking photos of food, and I think I actually managed to take a few decent ones. Or, at least, I get hungry looking back at them.

  • My father cutting a cheese and ham pizza. Three pieces of bread with butter and melted cheese on top.
  • A close up of my father cutting up the slices of the cheese and ham pizza.

I will keep practicing, as I’m sure I can figure out how to better place the lights, and which perspective is best. The biggest issue, however, is that time spent taking photos is time not spent eating…

On the next day, I ate a delicious grilled Salmon. Salmon is my favorite fish to eat, absolutely loving it in about any way I have tried it. This one had salt, garlic powder, parsley and a bit of lemon. It was great, if a bit too much, and I’m looking forward to eating it again.

The grilled salmon on a white plate. Some oil marks on the borders of the plate. Not pictured: my desire to eat it.

Finally, on Sunday 25th, we had cheesecake for dessert. This is a recipe an old friend taught us and so far hasn’t been bested by any other cheesecake I’ve tried. Sure, other styles have their own charms – and I certainly won’t refuse them -, but when I think of what a cheesecake is, this is it.

Sadly, the jam this time wasn’t as tasty as it could have been. It was a bit too sweet and had too little strawberry taste. But, considering we didn’t have any jam at home, I’m quite happy with it.

  • The cheesecake presented on a glass plate.
  • A close-up of the cheesecake.
  •  A slice of the cheesecake on a plate.

Unknown Feelings and Red Roses

This week has been quiet, to be honest. Or rather, while I have been doing things, none feel exciting to talk about. Any other week this would have been fine – sometimes it takes time for things to happen. There is a small piece I wrote that has been sitting on my drafts because it’s missing a photo and I haven’t had the chance to take it. There is a video I have been meaning to share that I haven’t reviewed nor uploaded anywhere. Yet I can’t help that this feeling is a symptom of something else. I’m perhaps afraid that I’m going to fall into another bad mood. Or perhaps there are some feelings that I haven’t really worked through.

Regardless, part of this exercise is pushing through that veil and, at the very least, remembering the things that I did do, even if they don’t seem very visible.

This week, I focused on Instagram. I have been putting off reviewing the last batch of photos I took, since I just haven’t been feeling like it. So, at least I went through some of those and added more to the queue. I also photographed a rose and I couldn’t wait to share it. I do admit to some frustration since I’m not quite sure how Instagram works, but I understand that the only thing I can do is keep working on it.

A blooming rose. Originally published on Instagram on the 2021-04-10.

I have been listening to unravel, by TK from Ling tosite sigure. I first listened to this song when watching Tokyo Ghoul months ago and I rediscovered it recently as I was looking for Jujutsu Kaisen’s OP on Spotify. I love the dynamism of the song and the contrast of his voice with the energy of the instruments. The calm intro with the lone vocals, the swelling, the energy explosion followed to a return to a heavy charged calmness on the first verse. The chorus, oh the chorus. And the rawness in his voice just before the bridge as he screams “unraveling the world”.

I could go on, but I don’t think my words could do justice to it.

I Can See The Bees – Equipment Upgrade

I recently acquired a new lens for my DSLR camera. It’s a Sigma 18-200mm that I chose because its relative affordability and the versatility it would give me over the basic 18-55mm lens I’ve been using. I’m quite happy with it, to be honest. It allows me to take pictures that I couldn’t before. For example, in spring our garden comes alive with insects and blossoming flowers. With this lens I can now focus on the bees without being afraid that I’m too close to them.

Now? I just have fun with it.

The other thing is that it suits me better for the style of framing I want to do. I’m sure that with the old one there was plenty I could do (and did), specially with the aid of some work in the computer. For, with this one, I do feel like I have more freedom to do what I want to do the way I want to do it.

That said, the experience has solidified my desire for a macro lens, since I still want to take photos of small tiny things. I still want to get close to fungus, barks and rocks, and I think that it will (much like this one did) let me take those photos in a much more pleasant way.

Regardless, the lens did give me an excuse to learn some more video-related skills. I wanted to take a video of the bees and the butterflies out in the garden, but I don’t have a tripod. I intended to use a ladder we have at home as a place to rest the camera but that one wasn’t available… So I figured I would make my best effort to record without shaking and I would do some video stabilization with blender.

I’m quite happy of how it came out for my first attempt with the entire thing. Hopefully, I do get around taking more and better videos! At least, I hope, I can take some worthy of sharing online.

Chairs, Dogs and the Joys of Remote Work

For a while now I have been suffering from pain on my right arm – mostly focused on the wrist and hand. It comes and goes with time and, when it comes, I usually do my best to give that arm a rest. I’m pretty sure it’s related to the posture that I keep, since the chair I had been using wasn’t made for sitting for eight hours a day or more.

Thus, at the beginning of the month, I figured I had been with a terrible chair for long enough, so I decided to buy a decent one. At a previous job I used one I liked: the IKEA Markus. I figured that one would be a good choice. However, it wasn’t in production anymore (though I did find it on Ebay). Instead, I got the successor: the Järvfjället.

It’s quite nice. I love being able to rest my head on it and the way it encourages me to sit properly. I didn’t get the armrests because I figured that I wouldn’t need them as much (I was wrong), but also that I could just buy them later. Considering they are 30 euros extra, and the already high price of the chair, I think that I can be without them until IKEA opens again and I can go pick them up there.

On Friday morning, I accompanied a friend to a doctor’s appointment. It was mostly because it was her first trip on her own to that city. And, also, it’s nice to hang out even if it’s a road trip. I got to experience the joys of working remotely again because it meant that I could just attend whatever meetings I had while I waited for her to be done. I only needed a good Internet connection. To be honest, these things are making me value remote work so much more that I’m not sure I want to go back to an office again.

Finally, throughout the week I went to my garden and took some more photos. Although, to be quite honest, it has mostly been an excuse to look at something else other than computer screens. My eyes have been feeling tired and I notice that looking outside is more uncomfortable than it should be. Besides, I get to look at pretty flowers and practice some of my photography skills. I’d even say I could take pictures of my dogs if they didn’t immediately walk towards me whenever I try to take a picture.

A picture of one of my dogs getting to close to the camera. There is a spot on the camera from the dog breathing on the lense.

They are precious. I just, you know, wish they would stay still for long enough for me to take a photo of them.

Flowers, Hamburgers and Childhood shows

I’ve been meaning for quite a while to re-watch Avatar: The Last Airbender. My memories from it were probably a decade old, and I wondered if both people’s high steem for it and my own feelings would still stand after a rewatch.

In balance, it holds up. I watched it on Netflix and I believe it could use an uplift. That said, besides being 4:3 and meant for old generations of the medium, it looks good. It still sounds great. The action is still good and the story is still enjoyable. In fact, the most enjoyable parts in this rewatch are when it allows itself to go a little further and touch in the human matters such as forgiveness, or the unintended consequences of their actions, despite their intentions.

At the end of the day, however, I need to remember I changed since I watched it first. It’s clear what the target audience for the show is, and I no longer fall within it. If I’m feeling like I wish there was more to certain aspects of it, then it’s merely an indication that I should seek them out elsewhere as this show never meant to be that.

Besides watching Avatar, I also wrote about sharing. Originally, I had intended to write about the subject within one of these posts, but I believed it outgrew the scope of a review post. I’m quite happy with it, as it means I’ve been exercising my writing skills more.

A close-up photo of a pink flower. You can see cobwebs extending from the petals to the wooden branch it is on. Originally published on 2021-03-07 on my instagram profile.

I went to our garden and took some gorgeous close-ups of some of the flowers we have here. I’d love to know what they are, since I’ve been taking so many pictures of them, but for now I’m quite satisfied with admiring their beauty. At the very least, it makes me look forward to spring. And it’s thanks to those pictures that I’ve been quite keen on sharing more on Instagram. The difference that having pictures you’re proud of makes.

On sadder events, I finally accepted that I don’t enjoy Arma anymore. It’s been around 8 years of play, filled with joy, but there is something about it that just isn’t working for me anymore. I used to think I was jaded, and that it wasn’t surprising me anymore. However, while I have the experience, there is something else at play. It’s probably burn out. But if it is, it’s an unsatisfying answer. Alas, I only hope that by Arma 4’s release I am feeling like playing again. I’m quite sad I don’t get to play with the group, but it is for the best. It would have been a disservice to keep showing up despite not enjoying myself.

Finally, we tried another tasty recipe. Since we’re fans of hamburgers at home, and considering how good these look, we gave Ray’s Real Eats Japanese style hamburger a try. They are quite different from how we usually eat them, since we tend to stick to the hamburger in bun style, but that’s part of what made them so alluring. They were quite good!

Ray’s Real Eats Japanese style hamburger served with potatoes on the side.

We did have to make some compromises from the recipe as written due to missing ingredients, so we will probably make them again after we ensure we have what we need. That said, the results only make me wonder how much better it is going to taste.