Flavor the Month: Watermelon

Nothing says “summer” quite like a big, juicy slice of watermelon. Even if you prefer it charred on the grill or blended into an icy agua fresca, watermelon is one of the best ways to beat the late-summer heat.

So what gives watermelon its refreshingly delicate flavor?

Turns out the answer is pretty complicated. Over the last few decades, scientists have identified dozens of flavor and aroma molecules that contribute to watermelon’s unique taste.

And here’s an interesting twist: a watermelon’s flavor has a lot to do with its color. Chow down on a yellow ‘Early Moonbeam,’ a pale ‘Cream of Saskatchewan,’ or a deep red ‘Crimson Sweet’ and you’ll likely notice different flavor profiles for each melon. Read more… 

Photo credit: David MacTavish/Hutchinson Farm

35) Don't go vegan. Healthy foods will start tasting good. Lettuce will actually have a flavor. You will start feeling compassion for other creatures. You might actually begin enjoying things you never did before, among other awful side effects. DONT DO IT. it's too dangerous.
On Metamorphosis

If you love Magic: The Gathering and have not read Mark Rosewater’s article, “Metamorphosis,” yet, do it now. My article today will be filled with my responses to the block structure changes outlined in Mark’s article. I will also be looking at some of the implications of those changes that were not really addressed yet. Some of these implications were mentioned on Mark’s Tumblr, Blogatog, but I’ll be delving into them a little more. This is a monumental change to Magic, so let’s dig right in.

A Magical New Adventure


Don’t forget your Adventuring Gear!

Alright, cheaters, I know you didn’t read Mark’s article yet. Go do it. Now. Read it? Good. The big change is that instead of one three-block set and a core set every year, we will now have two two-set blocks and no core set. The fall and spring sets will be large, while the winter and summer sets will be small. Standard rotation will now occur every 18 months instead of every 24 months, each new large set kicking out the previous block. This means that there will always be three blocks in Standard. Mark’s article goes more in-depth on the why’s and how’s of these changes, so if you still haven’t read it, go read it. These changes have a lot of implications, however, and I wanted to take a look at the ones that came to my mind as I was reading Mark’s article. These will be talked about in broader categories.

The Golden Standard


Standard keeps changing like a Wheel of Fate.

Obviously, the biggest changes relate to Standard. Mark talks about how the new block structure was motivated in part by Standard’s rotation, cardpool, and complexity issues, but he doesn’t go much into the results of these changes. He stops at mentioning that Standard will have about the same size cardpool, but that it will contain more themes that change faster. So what does this mean in terms of keeping up with Standard?

The first implication I see if that dominating decks won’t be around as long. Currently, WU Control has been a top-tier Standard deck for two solid years. This has largely been due to the presence of Sphinx’s Revelation; Detention Sphere; and Jace, Architect of Thought since the first day of Return to Ravnica Standard. The new changes mean these cards would have rotated this past spring. In addition, the more complex nature of Standard will make it harder to keep up with a shifting metagame.


I’m so tired of Sphinx’s Revelation.

How does this affect the players? My mind first jumped to pricing. Since powerful cards won’t be useful in Standard for as long, their prices will drop faster (and may not reach the same levels in the first place). If Standard becomes more diverse anyway, the sheer number of top-tier playable cards will also be greater. This lowers the demand for staples, reducing the overall cost of playing in the format. These are shaky predictions at best, but very possible outcomes of the new Standard.

A Whale of a Tale


OK, Heartwood Storyteller isn’t a Whale.

The other facet of Magic that sees a ton of changes is the storytelling. Mark talked about some of the creative issues the game currently has and the solutions that this new block structure provides. We’ll be visiting twice as many planes every year, so this will likely increase the rate at which we return to old places. The higher rate of “storyness” per year also means that Magic’s flavor can develop twice as fast. We haven’t heard from Nicol Bolas in years, have no idea how Karn’s search for more tainted planes is going, and are in the dark about the war that has consumed Alara. There are so many loose ends and underutilized hooks that the creative team will finally have a chance to move the stories along at a pace the players (us) will enjoy more.

Well that’s great for us! We will probably see a dip in depth when it comes to new planes, but there’s only so much space in a year for story-related work. It’s also good to keep in mind that the retiring of the core set means we have four coherent story sets a year instead of three. While the core sets were just starting to have some narrative significance to Magic as a whole, they weren’t delving into those stories as much as a whole block can. So instead of one big story and one small story, we’ll be getting two medium stories.


See you soon, Karn?

An exciting prospect of this new block formula is the use of a multi-block story. In order to tell that kind of story now, you would have to take two entire years of Magic to get both parts. Under the new block structure it would only take one year. That would be more akin to what the Lorwyn/Shadowmoor blocks did than what the Odyssey/Onslaught blocks did. The new block structure offers a lot of flexibility in storytelling, despite all the changes that will be happening because of it. I, for one, and thrilled at the idea of seeing our lesser-known planeswalkers appearing more often.

It’s the End of Magic as We Know It, But I Feel Fine

Overall, I’m pretty excited by the changes. There’s a lot of reason to fear change (the biggest one being it’s part of human nature), but I am always interested in how new things work out if they don’t dramatically alter my life. The change to how blocks are built will totally shift how Magic is made and how we, the consumers, experience the game, so it’s a grand experiment that will have lots of moving parts to look at. These changes will be implemented with the fall set of 2015, so we’ve still got a year to go.

Until then, planeswalkers, brace for impact.

Math and Science Week!

aseantoo submitted to medievalpoc:

Kikunae Ikeda


Kikunae Ikeda / 池田 菊苗 (1864-1936) was a Japanese chemist and the inventor of MSG. (To all you haters: because Chinese restaurant syndrome has been debunked.)

He was also the first scientist to realise we have five basic tastes, not four. Before his time, Western science had accepted that our tongues have receptors for the following tastes:

1. sweetness

2. sourness

3. saltiness

4. bitterness.

 In 1909, he pointed out that there was a missing taste:

5. umami, or savouriness - i.e. the proteiny taste of meat or cheese or mushrooms or eggs.

This is kind of a big deal. It’s like pointing out that we have five fingers on each hand when Western science is only counting four.

So why the hell are we still teaching schoolkids that there are only four tastes, 105 years after that’s been proven wrong? Don’t we want them to understand why bacon is delicious????

Foods and Flavors Assocaited with the Signs:

Aries- Chili peppers, pomegranate, black pepper, cinnamon, and cloves.

Taurus- Apples, honey, grapes, vanilla, chocolate, and artichokes.

Gemini- Nuts, lemon, fennel, licorice, lavender, and black tea. 

Cancer- Chamomile, eggs, cheese, lychee, meat, milk, and cabbage.

Leo- Oranges, grapefruit, sunflower seeds, spinach, and peaches.

Virgo- Figs, wheat, rice, herbs, hops, corn, oats, carrots, parsnips, and celery.

Libra- Strawberry, cherry, mint, pears, avocado, beans, and peas.

Scorpio- Coffee, plum, prickly pear fruit, onion, garlic, and pickle.

Sagittarius- Ginger, Tomato, wasabi, lemon grass, mango, leeks, and olives.

Capricorn- Potato, meat, cucumber, pine nuts, green tea, beet, turnip, caviar, and barley.

Aquarius- Tofu, coconut, lime, kiwi, star fruit, papaya, and whipped cream. 

Pisces- Pineapple, banana, watercress, endive, sugarcane, seaweed, and watermelon.

Watch on www.itsokaytobesmart.com


Bacon is perhaps nature’s most potent distillation of deliciousness. To those of us who fall in the category of “bacon lover”, there are few more innately pleasurable smells than sizzling bacon. 

The heat-induced chemical reactions catalyzed by the hot pan combine with compounds introduced by the process of smoking and curing bacon to launch a cornucopia of volatile flavor compounds into the air, and in turn your nose, stimulating salivary production and drawing you out of bed aloft on the wafting wonderfulness like a classic cartoon character.

So what ARE those delicious chemicals? The American Chemical Society’s Reactions channel has teamed up with CompoundChem to produce this look at the yummy chemistry of bacon.

Everything that’s delicious, we owe to chemistry.

My favorite bacon compound? When researching my next video (which also has a food-related theme, but you’ll have to wait until Monday to find out), I discovered guaiacol:

It’s a humble little molecule with a mouthful for a name, but it’s one of the most delicious chemicals on Earth. Here’s why it’s special…

Wood contains lots of lignin, a polymer that helps strengthen plant cell walls. When that lignin burns, like when bacon is smoked over applewood or coffee beans are roasted and toasted, some of its ring-like aromatic structures are converted into guaiacol (as well as hundreds of other compounds(, which is the main flavor compound behind the smoky taste in all sorts of foods… including bacon

Flavor of the Month: Cinnamon

Sweet and spicy and one of the oldest spices known to man, cinnamon is a favorite topping or secret ingredient in both sweet and savory recipes. This warm spice is obtained from the dried inner bark of several species of trees within the Cinnamomum genus. True cinnamon however, sometimes known as Ceylon cinnamon, comes from C. verum (also, C. zeylanicum, the antiquated botanical name for the species), indigenous to Sri Lanka. Analysis of the fragrant essential oil from cinnamon bark reveals the main compound responsible for the sharp taste and scent of cinnamon comes from cinnamaldehyde (also known as cinnamic aldehyde). Read more…

Photo Credit: Hans Braxmeier


Magic: the Gathering - Recent Planes

Theros is ruled by an awe-inspiring pantheon of gods. Mortals tremble before them, feel the sting of their petty whims, and live in terror of their wrath.

A worldwide cityscape of grand halls, decrepit slums, and ancient ruins. Looming over it all presides the vast—and vastly powerful—City of Ravnica.

Fiora is a world of political intrigue, where government factions vie for power and hope to control Paliano, the High City. Despite its scenic vistas, Fiora is one of the most dangerous planes a Planeswalker can visit.

Read all about ‘em at http://magic.wizards.com/en/story/planes