Sunday, March 29, 2020

Product Review Blitz IV

This is the final installment (for now) of mass product reviews. Preview: Doritos Dinamita Mojo Criollo chips, Lays Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger chips, Kerrygold Skellig cheese, MontChevré Fresh Goat Cheese Peppadew, Woolwich Dairy Chevrai Sweet Pepper Heat, Carr Valley Creama Kasa, Underground Meats Saucisson Sec, and Underground Meats Finnochiona.

Product Review: Chinese candies

I picked up some Chinese candies at an informal seminar when I was a post-doc at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. I can only guess that they were provided by a Chinese post-doc or graduate student. 徐福记 (Hsu Fu Chi) is a Chinese candy company that is mostly owned by Nestlé.[1] The three crisps (all labeled 特制, "specially made") appear to have been produced by Hsu Fu Chi directly. I can only guess that the other two brands, Mr. Shu's and 英之莉 (Ying Zhi Li, "White Jasmine's Petal") are daughter companies.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Typefaces I Hate II: Scriptina

I see this font all the time, particularly in association with the Relief Society [1] of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—on fliers, on crafts [2], and even once as a giant quote glued, letter by letter, to the wall. Sadly, it even appeared on the cover of the 2011 winner for Best Picture Oscar.[3] It was designed in 2001 by Frederic "Apostrophe" Nader for the free font foundry Apostrophic Labs, which went under in 2003.[4] It was then updated in 2010, mostly with character diacritics, by Roger S. Nelsson, for CheapProFonts.[5]

Product Review Blitz III

This is the third massive post of product reviews. Preview: Mitica Queso de Murcia al Vino cheese, French Abbey Port-du-Salut cheese, Red Apple Cheese Applewood Smoked Provolone cheese, Noble View Creamery Juustoleipä cheese, Gabriel Coulet Roquefort cheese, Keen's Farmhouse Cheddar, Sargento Tastings New Zealander cheese, Guilloteau Saint Angel cheese, Délice de France Grand Camembert, Emmi Roth Buttermilk Blue cheese, Käserei Studer AG Der scharfe Maxx cheese, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Reypenaer Gouda, Carr Valley Cheese Glacier Wildfire Blue cheese, Ninfas Queso Tetilla cheese, Fromagerie Lincet Délice de Bourgogne cheese, Saxon Creamery Green Fields cheese, Hook's Cheese Ten Year Sharp Cheddar, Rodolphe le Meunier Sillon Bleu de Chèvre cheese, Trappiste Orval cheese, Underground Meats Tuscan Salami, Busseto Dry Coppa, Volpi Romano Salame, cape gooseberries, Aroy-D Rambutan, Aroy-D Mangosteen, Ugli fruit, Combos 7 Layer Dip Tortilla, Combos Jalapeño Cheddar Tortilla chips, Pringles Tortillas Truly Original chips, Lays Chicken and Waffles chips, Godiva Dark Chocolate Sea Salt, Nabisco Lemon Oreos, Nabisco Limeade Oreos, and Nabisco Mint Oreos.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Product Review: Cape Cod Kettle Cooked Sea Salt & Vinegar potato chips

Before he got married, my Uncle Derek accompanied my nuclear family on several summer vacations. On one of those vacations (I can't remember which, but it was either the trip to Oregon or the trip to Alberta), he introduced my nuclear family to Cape Cod potato chips. We were ecstatic about them. In my memory they were so good. I don't recall what flavor he shared with us, but we devoured them. (However, it's entirely plausible that we would've enthusiastically emptied any bag of potato chips he decided to share with us, regardless of brand.[2]) It's not an easy brand to track down in Utah, but I rediscovered it while we were in Wisconsin.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Typefaces I Hate I: Monotype Garamond Italic and Adobe Caslon Pro Italic

The Garamond typeface is named after Claude Garamond, an engraver who lived in Paris during the 1500s. He created a roman typeface but wasn't interested in italics. A contemporary of Garamond's, Robert Granjon, specialized in italics and his italics are often combined with Garamond's roman glyphs into a single typeface. Garmond's typeface fell out of favor during the 1700s and 1800s. Meanwhile, in the 1600s another engraver, Jean Jannon, produced a typeface with some similarities to Garamond's. In the early 1900s there was a renewed interested in 'old style' French typefaces. Several type foundries produced typefaces that they claimed were based on Garamond's original roman type. Modern research, however, has established that many of these are actually based on Jannon's work, not Garamond's. Monotype's Garmond is actually based on Jannon's type.[1] I actually don't mind Monotype Garamond's roman (regular) typeface [2], but I really, really dislike the italic setting.

Product Review: John Morrell: Braunschweiger

At some point in my childhood I stopped liking bologna (or perhaps I never liked it at all). One day as an adult, however, I had a sudden craving for a bologna sandwich. So I made myself one and ate it. And I liked it. It tastes exactly the same as I remember it tasting, so I have trouble reconciling my childhood revulsion with my adulthood enjoyment. Contrast this with Vienna sausages [1], which I disliked as a child and I still dislike them as an adult. Anyway, at one point I was walking down one of the several meat aisles at Woodman's [2] and I spotted a processed meat product called braunschweiger. It is a pork liver sausage that originated in Germany.[3] I was intrigued, so I bought some and took it home. I expected it to taste similar to bologna or Vienna sausages, but be spreadable.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Product Review Blitz II

Hang on to your horses! This is my second product review blitz and it's a long one! Preview: J&L Grubb Cashel Blue cheese, Da Vinci Herbed Gouda, Rambol Gourmandise Kirsch cheese, Clawson Blue Stilton cheese, Casaro Pecorino Romano, Champignon Rougette Bavarian Red, Mitica Taleggio, Père Double Cream Brie, Clawson White Stilton with Lemon Peel, Capricorn French-Type Goat Milk Cheese, Carr Valley Cheese Bread Cheese, Emmi Appenzeller cheese, Luigi Guffanti Robiola Due Latti cheese, Sartori Black Pepper BellaVitano cheese, Sartori Balsamic Vinagrette BellaVitano cheese, Sartori Raspberry BellaVitano cheese, Sartori Peppermint BellaVitano cheese, Sartori MontAmoré cheese, Bucky Badger Combo Cheddar Cheese Curd, Henri Hutin Belletoile cheese, Crave Brothers Les Frères cheese Old Croc Extra Sharp Cheddar, Schmidhauser Tomme Crayeuse cheese, Beemster Graskaas cheese, Mitica Caña de Cabra cheese, Igor Gorgonzola Piccante cheese, Fiorucci Sopressata Dry Salame, Doritos Dinamita chips, Doritos Jacked Ranch-Dipped Hot Wings chips, Doritos Jacked Enchilada Supreme chips, Doritos Jacked Smoky Chipotle BBQ chips, Stacy's Simply Naked Pita Chips, Stacy's Multigrain Pita Chips Combos Buffalo Blue Cheese and Pretzel, La Panzanella Sesame Mini Croccantini, La Panzanella Whole Wheat Croccantini, La Panzanella Black Pepper Mini Croccantini, Mediterranean Snacks Sea Salt Lentil Crackers Lays Cheesy Garlic Bread chips, and Lays Pico de Gallo chips.

Product Review: Valdeón cheese

A blue cheese made in the León province of Spain from the milk of cows and goats. It gets its name from  Posada de Valdeón, the tiny (~500 inhabitants) municipality where it is manufactured.[1] Before it is shipped it is wrapped in sycamore maple leaves or chestnut leaves. Besides having thick blue veins running through it, the cheese also has a characteristic yellow-green appearance, which can be kind of intimidating. Even more interesting, blue cheeses, such as this one, have been found to contain andrastins (see the examples in the notes below [2]), compounds which can be used to supplement cancer therapy.[3]

Product Review: Fermín: Lomo Serrano

The Spanish term lomo serrano means "mountain loin" (not to be confused with "mountain lion"). It is a dry-cured pork loin (lomo) produced using farm-raised white pigs. The meat is dried in curing sheds up in the mountains (sierras, for which serrano is the adjective), where it is cool and dry.[1] Cuts of meat from the front legs (paletilla serrano, "mountain blade") or from the hind legs (jamón serrano, "mountain ham") are also dry-cured this way. The serrano varieties are the least-expensive dry-cured meats in Spain. The more expensive varieties (e.g. jamón ibérico, "Iberian ham") are made using free-range Iberian black pigs. Because the dry-curing process produces an intense, salty flavor, these meats are typically sliced very thin.

Product Review: Beehive: Seahive Cheddar cheese

Ever since I started visiting Harmon's for their cheese selection, I've seen the offerings of a local creamery: Beehive Cheese, Co., based in Ogden, Utah.[1] Unfortunately, neither of their flagship cheeses interest me since they are rubbed with coffee grinds ("Barely Buzzed" cheddar) or black tea leaves ("TeaHive" cheddar). I abstain from both tea and coffee for religious reasons [2], so both of those cheeses were out. Besides, I've been going for 'horizontal' experience (lots of different kinds of cheese) rather than 'vertical' experience (the same cheese from different producers), so trying another cheddar was low on my priority list. But when we were getting ready to move from Utah to Wisconsin [3], I decided to take advantage of the availability of their cheeses while we were still there.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Product Review Blitz I

It's been years since I posted any reviews to this blog. But there is a long backlog [1] of reviews. For a lot of them, I'd written my thoughts, but not an intro. Rather than write an intro for each one (especially since it's been years since I tried these products), I'm going to give you several reviews here in one go. As a preview: lychees, Cadbury Creme Egg, Snyder's of Hanover Bacon Cheddar Preztel Pieces, Alma Kräuterschatz cheese, Bon Fire Maverick Salt and Vinegar Chips, Häagen-Dazs White Chocolate and Raspberry Truffle Ice Cream, Martinelli's Blood Orange, Martinelli's Mango Lemonade.

Product Review: Les Fromagers de Chevillon: Domaine du Vallage cheese

I couldn't find a lot of information about this cheese online. In fact, I'm not even 100% sure that the Harmons cheesemonger labeled it correctly. It could be "Domaine de Vallage", "Domaine du Vallage", "Domaine de Village", or "Domaine du Village"—all turn up in a Google search, but none is obviously right. Either it's a triple-cream Brie, or it's a triple-cream mold-ripened [1] cheese that's very much like Brie. Ours looks a little funny because we refrigerated it for a few days, which gives it a consistency more like cheesecake. We didn't let it sit out long enough to liquefy again before we started eating it.

Product Review: Doritos nth Degree Burn

In 2010 Doritos released three new flavors of their corn tortilla chips (but only for a limited time). All three were spicy and were given names that reflected that aspect of their flavor. They were: First-Degree Burn (jalapeño-flavored), Second-Degree Burn (buffalo-wing-flavored), and Third-Degree Burn (habanero-flavored).

Women's Script

This is my final (for now [1]) post about the writing systems from Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive. As far as I understand, Brandon comes up with a general idea for how the writing system should function and then Isaac Stewart, Brandon's in-house artist, does the legwork of designing the letters. The women's script is the alphabet that is read by women on the planet of Roshar. It was designed to look like waveforms.[2][3] It is written left to right and has no punctuation except for a vertical line at the beginning of a passage that establishes the maximum character height. This is useful because some characters are identical except for their size.[4] Rosharans also like things to be symmetrical, so they often try to make their names have reflectional symmetry.[5][6] Let's see what my family's names look like written in the women's script. (And we'll just ignore that I, a man, am writing it.)

Friday, March 20, 2020

Found Treasures IX: Guardian Angel

This is one of several stories I've written that are based in part on a dream that I've had. Reading it now, I find it a little heavy handed. Had I the inclination to rewrite this story, there are parts of it that should definitely be more subtle. By the title you can guess that it concerns a guardian angel. I personally do not believe in guardian angels, but I saw no problem using one in a fictional setting.

Found Treasures VIII: Singular: Louse

This is a second found treasure that takes a playful stab at my high school English teacher, Mr. Yates.[1] It didn't start out that way, though. At first it was just an exercise in mocking some of the unusual plurals that exist in the English language [2]—though sometimes the fake singulars/plurals I came up with weren't particularly clever themselves. I brought it all back in in the last paragraph, but then it got away from me and ended on a rather abrupt digression from the previously established pattern. It's fun but not important enough to fix up.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Thaylen Glyphs

Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive (which I read last year) takes place on a planet called Roshar. One of the countries on Roshar is called Thaylenah. Thaylen writing is based on the same letters that are used for making glyphpairs [1], but with some important differences.[2] First, Thaylen is an abjad, which is a writing system that only has consonants. As a result, the spoken language tends to produce large consonant clusters.[3] Second, Thaylen is written vertically. It is implied that Thaylen is a unique language, but in the pictures in The Stormlight Archive books they are used to write transliterated English. Just as I've already done with Rosharan glyphpairs, I decided to write the names of my family members using Thaylen letters.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Rosharan Glyphpairs

I resisted starting Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive for a long time because 1. he hasn't finished the series yet, 2. he says it's going to be 10 books long, 3. each book is over 1000 pages, and 4. it takes him 3–4 years to publish each one. The fourth book is set to publish this year (2020), which means that we can expect him to finish the series by 2038. 2038! By that time I'll be 58 years old. (And Brandon will be 63!) Brandon's books are so intricate that I don't think I can keep track of all the characters and plot details for that long. So my plan was to just wait until they were all published and then read all ten in one go. But then Leann started reading the first book, The Way of Kings, and I couldn't fall behind, so I started reading it along with her.[1] In the story we learn that men who follow the religion Vorinism are forbidden from learning to read.[2] Men will still use marks, called glyphs, to identify themselves or signify a particular idea.[3] The glyphs are formed from actual letters, but the letters are calligraphically stylized. Glyphs are often combined into a glyphpair. I decided to create glyphpairs for the members of my family.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Mayan Hieroglyphs, Part VII

It's been a few years, now, since I posted anything to this blog. Looking back I can see that the time I had available for blogging decreased with each new child. We now have three children, but I've only drawn Mayan hieroglyphic names for two of them.[1], Our third child is already three, but I've always had this nagging desire to draw a Mayan name for him so that everything will be rounded out and complete.