This is Not a Recipe for Baked Campanelle & Cheese

Aside

I threw together some baked campanelle and cheese last night kind of on a whim and decided I’d better mark down how it went, for my own future reference if nothing else. This is not a healthy dish, but it is a very tasty one.

campanelle

Ingredients:

  • Some sort of pasta. (Preferably of a type that holds sauces well. Classically, this would be macaroni. Because I’m a classy lady, I went for campanelle. It’s pretty!)
  • 2-5 handfuls of shredded cheese(s). Pick your favorite type!
  • Spices and seasonings to taste.
  • 3/4c – 1c dairy of some sort. (I would suggest 2% milk, but this was originally made with half & half. While delicious, holy goodness was this rich.)
  • 1/2 – 1 stick butter or butter-like substance. I’d suggest aiming for the 3/4 stick mark.
  • A bit of flour. I didn’t measure, but I’d hazard a guess that this was maybe 1/3 or 1/2 cup.
  • One egg, if desired.

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to somewhere between 375 and 400 degrees F.
  • Cook pasta according to directions provided on packaging. You might consider stopping a minute or two shy of al dente, as this is going to be going into an oven.
  • When pasta has reached your definition of done, strain it. Consider running it under cold water to halt the cooking process if your sauce mixture is more than a minute or two away from completion.
  • Put pasta back in cooking pot, set aside (away from heat).
  • Begin the sauce by melting your butter or butter-like substance over low/medium heat.
  • As butter is melting, whisk your milk (or cream, or what have you) and egg (if desired) together. Keep whisking until there aren’t weird yolk clumps everywhere.
  • Add spices of your choosing to the eggy milk. In this case, I used salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a bit of paprika. Things that might go well: any spice that makes you happy. Rosemary? Crushed red pepper? Li’l bit of oregano?
  • Once butter is thoroughly melted, slowly whisk in the eggy milk. Keep the butter-eggy-milk over heat, maybe bumping it up from low/medium to true medium.
  • Dump all flour in at once. (Or incorporate it bit by bit, which is probably wiser.)
    • Honestly, all of the above could be done in pretty much any order. Just don’t put the flour in a pan alone over heat, because that would be silly.
  • Whisk with vigor until all flour lumps are dissolved (probably 5 minutes ish).
  • Keep whisking, but tone it down. Wait for the sauce to thicken a li’l bit (probably another 2-4 minutes).
  • CHEESE TIME.
    • Toss two handfuls of cheese into mixture. Note that low- or no-fat cheese is a terrible idea for this step. You didn’t start making this recipe with any delusions that it’s a healthy one; this is not the place to try to redeem it. If you want to use low- or no-fat cheese for topping, that’s your thing. If you use it here, you’re going to end up with a sodden mass of cheese-like matter that doesn’t incorporate into the eggy-milk-butter at all. 
    • I used cheddar and and a colby/monterey jack mixture here.
  • Remove from heat as soon as you’ve added the cheese. Whisk a bit until it’s a bit melty, or until it’s all melty if you like.
  • Pour eggy-cheese-milk-butter mixture into your pot of pasta.
  • Fold mixture in until pasta is thoroughly covered in delicious sauce.
  • Put about half the pasta into a lightly-greased baking form that looks big enough to hold all of your pasta.
  • Sprinkle some cheese on that.
  • Pour in the rest of the pasta. Level it a bit so you don’t have one poor campanelle (or whatever) getting burned to a crisp because it dared to stand too tall.
  • Load all of that with cheese. This cheese will become your bubbly, crusty layer of goodness. I used cheddar, colby/monterey jack, and a sprinkling of shredded parmesan.
  • Pop that sucker in the oven.
  • Wait as long as it takes to have a beer and finish off a chapter of whatever book you’re working on. (15-20 minutes)
  • Check on status. How’s the top looking?
  • Keep reading and enjoying refreshing beverages until you feel like it looks done. Nothing should be charred, but there should be bubbly cheese that’s turning a li’l brown.
  • Your total oven time should be somewhere above 15 minutes and below 40.
  • If you’re unsatisfied with the top but it is time to eat, use Broil! It will be super effective.
  • Remove from oven, let stand, serve, eat, enjoy.

An Anniversary Post About Numbers

Amerande awakens.

My first image from the GW2 headstart weekend.

Guild Wars is officially a year old, as of roughly 9pm Pacific last night. When the servers went up, I was streaming a launch party with the GuildCast crew over at GBTV. I don’t remember pretty much anything of what was said on the show, probably because I was busy watching the client and Twitter to see when things would get started. I rolled my first character, Snarkk, whilst streaming. (That lead to an amusing situation where the poor person who rolled Snark kept getting whispers from people who just heard me say the name without knowing that I’d doubled up on the spelling to make it more asura-like. Sorry, friend.) 

What a year it’s been! I’m not really prepared to talk about the last year all in one go right here and now, but I’m hoping that the anniversary will provide the impetus to do a bit of reflection. One of the things I’m really hoping to make time for in the next handful of days is sifting through the 5,000-odd screenshots I have sitting around and compiling sort of a highlights album. We shall see.

What I am prepared to do here and now is to provide another post about numbers. This will have a few more numbers than the last post about numbers, although some of the numbers might look suspiciously similar.

gw804

Legendaries created: 2

Last October, when I first started looking into what a legendary weapon required, I was feeling somewhat less than confident that I’d have one created by the end of the first year of Guild Wars 2. As a proud owner of both the Flameseeker Prophecies and the Moot (although that second one kind of slipped in right at the last moment), I’m pleased to have done better than expected. While I certainly don’t have plans for putting a legendary on every character, I’m much less daunted by them than I was previously.

Achievement points: 8,391 

That adds up to somewhere around 23 achievement points a day. One of my goals is to finish off the nook- and cranny-type Exploration achievements in the near-ish future.

Dynamic events completed: 4,014

This is tracked by the Emergency Response Hero, and it works out to about 11 events a day over the course of the last year. A non-trivial portion of that 4,014 is given over to Vollym’s battle pit (hello, daily kill variety) and the tar elemental / braziers / Flame Legion shaman chain in Plains of Ashford back when I was doing it about once a day for the static dailies.

Titles: 24

Eight of these titles are due to the Hall of Monuments — of which, I believe, two were acquired post-Guild Wars 2-launch. To date, I believe I’ve earned every living world title available. I’m still working towards Omnomnivore, so let me know if I can buy you a round! I’m also three Arah paths away from Dungeon Master, which I’m pretty sad that I didn’t make time to finish before the first year was up.

Kills: 31,591 absolute minimum

This one is tricky. The best way I could think of this data was to add up the Slayer totals — the problem being, of course, that any kills over 1,000 of a given type aren’t tracked. So, bare minimum, that’s 86+ kills a day (and probably significantly more).

Total hours played: 1371

gw2_portraits_anniversary_dark80s: 7

Sharing a whopping total of 1,246 hours of playtime between them, my seven 80s (half of my current roster) make up 91% of my account’s play time. Kelle, my ostensible main (due to having the most hours played and the only 100% completed map) accounts for 37% of my account’s total hours all on her own (down from 41% about two months ago).

Kelle Elisia, an elementalist, has 517 hours played and was created one year ago.
Flameseeker, a warrior, has 232 hours played and was created just under a year ago.
Kyrzi, a guardian, has 71 hours played and was created 6 months ago.
Flink the Apostate, a necromancer, has 149 hours played and was created one year ago.
Oriens Soulfire, a guardian, has 138 hours played and was created one year ago.
Sinnli, an mesmer, has 70 hours played and was created 6 months ago.
Amerande, a thief, has 69 hours played and was created one year ago.

Flameseeker is (still) the wielder of the Flameseeker Prophecies. Kyrzi, a latecomer, has recently found herself in possession of the Moot. She earned the 200 skill points for the Bloodstone Shard on her own, but did very little else to contribute to her good fortune.

gw2_portraits_anniversary_babies

Aerin Pyredancer, an engineer, has 42 hours played, is level 63, and was created 6 months ago.
Snarkk, a ranger, has 23 hours played, is level 30, and was created one year ago.
Briantha Soulfire, an elementalist, has hour played, is level 20, and was created 37 days ago (expressly for the purpose of receiving the Desert Rose skin).
Amarin Elisia, a thief, has 8 hours played, is level 20, and was created 4 months ago. 
Keres Warbringer, a warrior, has 6 hours played, is level 20, and was created 6 months ago.
Luca Mistwalker, a necromancer, has 46 minutes played, is level 20, and was created 41 days ago.
Suriel the Light, a guardian, has a few minutes played, is level 1, hasn’t left the tutorial, and was created 13 days ago for kicks.

You might notice that I have a number of level 20s who have nowhere near enough hours played to justify their level. That is thanks to the number of characters created precisely a year ago, who received birthday presents containing a scroll that levels another character to 20 automatically.

I also have a number of characters created 6 months ago, due to some reshuffling of characters I wasn’t happy with (a norn mesmer and asura engineer, among others).

Figuring out average rate of leveling is made tricky by Kelle and the other characters who have leveled many, many times since they hit 80. By ignoring the 80s who have spent the most time post 80 and the characters who’ve made use of a Scroll of Experience, I came up with a rough estimate of 1 hour per level pretty much on the nose, although most of those characters made use of at least one crafting discipline.

That’s plenty of words for now.

danceydance

A post about numbers

I currently have 11 characters and 13 character slots. One of the empty slots is because I just noticed the other day that the character that I rolled specifically to wear the Fervid Censer back item had the wrong glow color; the other, I picked up over the weekend because I can’t say no to a 20% sale on one of my most-coveted upgrades.

gw2_portraits

Kelle Elisia, a human elementalist, has 483 hours played and is level 80.
Flameseeker, a human warrior, has 184 hours played and is level 80.
Flink the Apostate, a charr necromancer, has 142 hours played and is level 80.
Oriens Soulfire, a sylvari guardian, has 127 hours played and is level 80.
Amerande, a sylvari thief, has 67 hours played and is level 80.
Sinnli, an asura mesmer, has 61 hours played and is level 80.
Snarkk, an asura ranger, has 21 hours played and is level 27.
Aerin Pyredancer, a norn engineer, has 16 hours played and is level 36.
Kyrzi, an asura guardian, has 11 hours played and is level 11.
Amerin Elisia, a human thief, has 8 hours played and is level 10.
Keres Warbringer, a norn warrior, has 3 hours played and is level 5.

All together, that adds up to roughly 1,123 hours — which is 30 hours less than my account total. I’ve invested roughly 30 hours of play in characters that were later deleted.  

With the exception of Flameseeker, all of the level 80s are ranked in hours played by the order in which they hit max level. Kelle hit 80 about a month after the launch of Guild Wars 2; Sinnli hit it about a week ago. Flameseeker came after Flink and Oriens, but has been racking up hours on account of being the bearer of the Flameseeker Prophecies.

With the exception of Aerin, all of my sub-80s can be ranked by level or by hours played and remain in the same order. Aerin is a little light on hours because I got impatient about leveling and have maxed out two crafting disciplines and half of a third on her.

Kelle, my first character to 80, accounts for about 41% of my total account playtime. She’s also the only character with 100% world completion (and a completed personal story). The next largest share of total game time goes to Flameseeker at about 16%; Flameseeker also has the next highest map completion percentage at 44%.

In many ways, the map completion percentage has a direct influence on hours played; because Kelle is the only character that can get to certain locations, she sometimes gets played by default. As one of my next goals is to bone up on map completion numbers across characters, I expect that the huge gap in hours played will also close.

This has been a delightful exercise in navelgazing; thanks for listening.

Lost Orrian Jewelry Boxes

I wanted to collect some thoughts (editor’s note: not a very thoughtful post) about converting karma to non-karma things today. Given that I’ve recently divested myself of my former go-to place to talk about all things Guild Wars 2, here seemed to be as good a place as any.

gw089

I popped a couple of karma boosters (by hijacking my darling guild’s production line to rapidly construct a 24-hour karma boost and a karma banner), opened about a month’s worth of karma pots (mostly jugs from dailies and drops from dungeons), and got myself about 377,650 karma before heading down to Orr to buy some Lost Orrian Jewelry Boxes.

My first bout of karma bought me 83 boxes. For those of you who are unaware, these boxes drop a whole host of things, frequently including more karma. Drinking down the drops, tastes, vials, and swigs of liquid karma that dropped from my initial 83 boxes bought me back enough karma to buy an additional 50 boxes. And from that, 28 more. Then 18, 14, 11, 12, 7, 3, 2, and finally one box — a grand total of 260 boxes, or 1,183,000 karma worth of Lost Orrian Jewelry Boxes. That means I spent a little over  two times again the original karma investment.

And what did I get from it?

  • 3 whole stacks (750) of Unidentifiable Objects, plus about 76 more. (~4g)
  • 1 Onyx Lodestone (1.4g)
  • 1 Corrupted Lodestone (~1.6g)
  • 1 Crystal Lodestone (~45s)
  • 2 Destroyer Lodestones (~2.1g)
  • 3 Piles of Putrid Essence (~1.5s)
  • 3 Risen Priests of Balthazar (non-valued, account bound)
  • ~70ish Obsidian Shards. (147,000 karma)
  • Total: ~10g, 70 Shards, 3 identical minis, nascent repetitive strain injury

Had I put the initial karma investment just into Obsidian Shards, I could’ve bought ~179, or about 37% of the Shards needed for the creation of the legendary Gifts of Fortune and Mastery.

Since I’m not urgently working on a legendary (although I’ve decided, at long last, that my next target is The Juggernaut for a little asura guardian who is currently level…11?), I wasn’t really worried about karma-to-Shard efficiency — as a bonus, the ~10 extra gold is enough to help level one of my alts through a crafting profession, invest in the Crystalline Dust market, or get me 1/12th of the way closer to my next set of T3 cultural armor.

I don’t have a deeply insightful comment about this. I just figured I’d share my experience.

2012 in the rearview mirror

Were I a sensible person — the sort who plans ahead for stuff and thinks about Things Of Signficance like the weighty tread of the old year as it drags itself out the door — I’d have thought about this sooner and have a very nice, reflective, insightful post about the past year. I’m not that sort of person, though, so instead you’ll get a bit of rambling and then an otter gif.

In early February, when Rubi left to join the Dark Side, I was given the incredible opportunity to fill her role as Massively’s GW2 columnist. I’ve blogged about the game before and been involved in the community for quite some time, but this was, uh, a whole ‘nother level of dedication. Massively’s been such a tremendous joy to be part of, and such a huge instigator for personal growth. I can’t imagine the last year without all the awesome people there. About the same time as I joined Massively, I started making regular appearances on Gamebreaker TV for GuildCast (which I was a fan of long before it made the conversion to live vidya). Between those two venues, I’m just flabbergasted by the number of cool geeks I’ve gotten to know and talk to.

Going to PAX East for my first convention as an ~*official press person*~ was a real treat, mainly because of Eliot and Matt, two of the awesome Massively people I was just talking about. Between East and Prime, I was delighted with a number of opportunities to geek out and be around really, really neat people.

It’s a little bit difficult to think and talk about this year without using Guild Wars 2 as a sort of framework. Going from signing up for the GW2 beta to pre-purchasing a copy the first day I possibly could to actually being able log in and play (while blogging those experiences weekly) has been quite the fun journey.

I’ve made significant progress toward some life goals that I’ve been aiming for for quite some time. The year certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park — quite the opposite, at times — but I’ve been so, so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, the people who’ve made it a stellar year, and all the good and marvelous things that have happened.

A whole year is a big thing to tackle. There’s plenty of stuff, big and small, that made it awesome — like solving some kick-ass investigation missions in The Secret World, a fantastic 24 hours of livestreaming video games for a fabulously successful charity fundraiser, watching the season finale of Game of Thrones or hearing The National’s The Rains of Castamere cover, and spending quality time with amazing people (both in- and out-of-game).

tl;dr: 2012 was great and I have high hopes for 2013; here have an otter.

February-13-2012-18-11-05-tumblrlphcdjo9lK1qzmowao1400

Extra Life 2012

Tomorrow I’ll be taking part in the Extra Life 2012 gaming charity. It’s kind of like the sort of thing where someone promises to dye their hair bright purple if only folks will donate a certain amount of money to a good cause, only I have a lot more fun playing games than dying my hair cool colors. Also, there isn’t really a minimum set goal. I’ve raised just short of $500 at this point, and I’m hoping to have more by the end of tomorrow — but even if I just stick at what I’ve got now, I feel like that’s a pretty dang worthwhile contribution.

I wanted to take a moment to talk about this whole thing.

What does Extra Life do?

Extra Life raises funds to support the Children’s Miracle Network, which is a collection of about 170 hospitals throughout North America that focuses specifically on helping — you guessed it! — children. The CMN has two main goals:

  1. Help as many children as possible by raising funds for children’s hospitals.
  2. Keep funds in the community in which they were raised to help local children.

Extra LifeWhy am I supporting this?

I strongly feel that charitable behavior and support of good causes should be a part of every day life.

I don’t necessarily want to go through a list of all the ways I try to incorporate that into my own life, but I do what I can. I don’t pretend that doing that sort of thing makes me a good person — it just makes sense to me to do. Charity and supporting worthwhile things is a part of my basic worldview.

I’m not an endless font of money. As I said, I do what I can, but it’s not like I can dump thousands of dollars onto every organization that catches my eye — and even if I could, there would be so many other good causes that would go unhelped. So I donate clothes, or do things like Pink Day in LA and the Relay for Life. In this case, I play video games. I’m streaming those video games because it’s a way to build community (if people watch), and as a way to draw more attention to the whole thing. If anyone on my donor list feels that watching me be a prat in Guild Wars 2 is a good bonus to the feel-good reward they’ve already totally got by being awesome and donating to the cause, so much the better.

Extra Life is particularly near to my heart.

Kids — especially sick ones — are pretty dear to me. A while back, I spent a lot of time as a volunteer working with special needs children. I saw a sweet girl names Rebecca every week for almost two years. I also spent some time as a habilitation care provider through the Department for Developmental Disabilities. When I still qualified for pediatric care, I went through years that included rounds of brief hospitalizations (including one stay of over a week), tests, scans, and medicines. I want to make the experience of other kids in similar (or any) circumstances better — not because mine was bad because of the hospital or staff, but because I totally know what it’s like to be a scared, hurting child in a hospital.

This stuff matters to me. If I can help bring any awareness or support to this sort of thing, I call that a win.

Besides, when else can I say that I’m “earning” $17+ an hour to play video games?

(You can find my Extra Life page, including a list of what I’ll be doing with my 24 hours, here.)

the world that still lacks a name

Of the godless ones who wandered far from the company of others, little was heard.  When they left in pursuit of fulfillment, they were driven by their thirst for peace.  As two great hosts they set out – one to the North, and the other to the vast stretches of the South.

It was those who wandered North who first saw the Endless Sea, which stretched before them as they emerged from the northern jungles.  They sent what river-craft they had out upon it, but such were never seen again when once they floated out of sight across the glimmering expanse.  Rebuffed by the sea, most of the godless retreated to the inland jungle, though some small few remained along the margin of the eternal waters.  Those who retreated reveled in the closeness of the trees, and grew learned in their secrets.  Those who stayed beside the Endless Sea were content, at first, to be observers.  They began to chart the stars above them and the patterns of the restless waters.  In these and other studies they passed many generations, until at last they began to work towards the creation of seacraft, and to set out upon the waters – though, due to their long memory, they never again tried to cross the Sea, but accepted it as limitless.

The host which left for the South grew quickly divided.  As they passed through the densely wooded mountains , some felt their thirst for travel dulled, and made for themselves a home where the clouds gathered on the face of the mountains.

I’m just gonna leave this here…

No, really – I stumbled across a quote the other day that is pertinent to some conversations that have been going ’round in my head and in my life, so in case I ever want to formulate a post about it, I want it on hand.

 

Not being assaulted is not a privilege to be earned through the judicious application of personal safety strategies. A woman should be able to walk down the street at 4 in the morning in nothing but her socks, blind drunk, without being assaulted, and I, for one, am not going to do anything to imply that she is in any way responsible for her own assault if she fails to Adequately Protect Herself. Men aren’t helpless dick-driven maniacs who can’t help raping a vulnerable woman. It disrespects EVERYONE.

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sprouting afresh, perhaps

I love my hair lady because she’s the only person in the state, I feel, who does tension rod perms. But she might be a bit heavy handed. I have come away from our last rendezvous feeling a little thin in the hair department, like a great deal of it was ripped untimely from my scalp in the process of restoring what should have been my natural curls, were God not in a whimsical frame of mind during my creation.  I am relatively sure that in a few days’ time, I will feel, amidst my diminished tresses, stubble.  And it will itch.

~

 

She said: you may have him, little girl, if you can fulfill these tasks for me. Find the color of thunder, a room made out of fire, and a bird whose voice wrings diamonds from the air.

 

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