Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I Reached a Milestone... in Candy Crush

I wish I was this industrious in real life.
I’m not too proud to admit this but a few months ago I reached level 1,000 in Candy Crush. But I don't know where I stand in terms of achievement; whether this is common, since the so-called achievement was reached in roughly over a year. So far, I have managed without Facebook or buying lives. And if you're wondering, but of course why wouldn't you, I haven't been playing daily; I've had days when I was fed up with the game and didn't feel like playing.

Childish?
I guess if a game is colourful, cartoony, apparently doesn't require much brain activity and deals with candies as opposed to dark, strategy-laden, monster-fighting, gun-blasting games, then yes, no manly man will admit to playing this. 

Childish or not, from the point of view of the person behind the player, intentionally or not, games like these take our minds off things. This reminds me of when I was out having coffee, and saw a lady in a dark business suit; coffee on table, cigarette in hand, iPad in front, playing one of the childish games I ever saw. The stark contrast was quite funny. The game was not Candy Crush but I guess she just wanted a break from 'life' and just... play.

Stress-Reliever?
The goal of games like Candy Crush is simple, but you need focus to maximise success but you can also play on auto mode and achieve some form of success due to its simplicity. I'm the kind of person who's always in my head and it's not as instinctive to simply stop thinking and be in the moment. Too much of a good thing is not good for you and thinking may or may not be one of them; they say ignorance is bliss. And then there are those little achievements after completing a level - I call them pseudo-happiness, little pseudo-happiness.

However, I think Candy Crush can be a stress-inducer as well. I find that my heart rate goes up whenever I'm stuck at a level and games like these are [I think] programmed for the player to lose and to entice you to play further; you lose with just one more - in the case of Candy Crush - jelly to go.

Addictive?
It can be. Just think that you can bring this everywhere. And when you're having problems in real life a little pseudo-happiness helps, and then you come back to the real world after a brief simulated happiness, realise you still have all of your problems staring at you, you can potentially plunge right back into the game rather than deal with reality.

I once went without my tablet and Candy Crush for about a few weeks. The things I missed the most were of course Internet connection [because I use my tablet to connect to the Internet] and second, was my games.

At the time of writing, I am at level 1,053. I don't know if I can or need to wean myself off Candy Crush; I managed to do so with coffee, so I'm pretty sure I can with this one. But then, I'm not even sure if I'm addicted to this; no apparent withdrawal symptoms when I wasn't able to play.

Is there a game you can't seem to put down? 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Electrolux Portable Induction Cooktop: No Gas, No Problem

A picture of a picture of the Electrolux Portable Induction Cooktop on its box.
There was an explosion. A small one. There was no fire. Everyone was OK.

The Cause of the Explosion
Actually, what happened was our gas cooktop simply exploded; not the whole thing though just one of the burners, but it could be worse. What we found out later was our cooktop was too old and getting complications that usually come with old age.

But it was enough for me to look for other options, namely, electric cooktops. To the Internet I went and back ever so slightly wiser.

No More Gas
After a ton of digging and a few hundreds of cat photos later, I found out that electric cooktops have come a long way from the electric coil system, to ceramic infrared heating system, to electromagnetic induction system. The cat photos had nothing to do with cooktops; it was just me sidetracking, in case you're wondering.

Except...
Despite all that, since my mom does most of the cooking [OK, OK, all of the heavy cooking], and she insisted on another gas cooktop, we had to replace our old gas cooktop with another... you've guessed it, gas cooktop.
My cooking expertise is boiling water.

Still, I thought it was time to try something new. The induction system appealed to me, so we bought a single portable induction cooktop by Electrolux.

But Wait! What is an Induction Cooktop?
I don't want to bore you with technical details, but if it's your thing, I won't judge you. Physics.org offers a simple explanation on induction cookers and How Stuff Works gives a bit more in-depth look on How Induction Cooktops Work.

The Experience
Like most induction cooktops, the one we bought has a flat ceramic top, so a wok is a no go; you will have to use cookware with a flat bottom. Speaking of cookware, one caveat with induction cooking is that you will have to make sure you have ferromagnetic or magnetised pots and pans - the easiest to check if you already have them is by placing a magnet at the bottom of your cookware and see if it sticks.

Ours comes with a pot ready for use, so we wasted no time testing the cooktop. Cooking is easy enough if you know what you're doing; I mean technically there's no learning curve - you simply plug it in, turn the knob to the heating level of your choice and you're cooking. Heat control is almost instantaneous. There is a touchscreen timer you can utilise in case you want to leave your cooking unattended but still prefer it to stop at a preset time. I prefer to have my cooking attended by my mom.

Boiling water takes seconds especially if you have about a cup or so in the pot. Cooking something with oil or frying is something you will have to get used to - at least I did. The first time I tried frying some fish crackers, I waited for the oil to heat up and waited and waited, till I remembered something I read [I can't remember where] and put in the crackers anyway and there it was frying like nobody's business. The problem might be that the heat was too low and/or not continuous; the sound it made sort of gave me the idea.

Since induction cooking directly heats the pot, the surrounding cooking area is pretty cool to touch including the [uninsulated] handles of the pot. I'm not sure if this is heat-dependent [I think it is], since I rarely go the highest setting which is nine, so I'll say do it with precaution.

Design
If you think this particular model that we have is not up to your design palate, there are other variations available either from Electrolux or other brands; some with more control options, some with more than one cooking surfaces and a lot of built-in model options.

As mentioned above, the flat cooking top is the widely available option. But there's also a curved top designed for a wok like The Grand Cuisine Surround Induction Zone, also by Electrolux from their professional line. You know what that means, it means everything from that line is going to be more expensive than the non-professional line. But at least you'll get to use your wok if that's your thing.

Professional line or not, I don't think I can make a gourmet meal any time soon with or without this or any other induction cooktops. But I like the one we have for the light cooking that I do and I absolutely like the fact that I don't need one of those cooking gas tanks in my home [even if I still do right now - I will have to convince my mom to change].