The most socially acceptable drug

coffee-bean--texture--mocha--coffee-beans_357196
Caffeine is a psychoactive central nervous system stimulant. It is found naturally in a good handful of plants that have propagated significantly thanks to human influence.

It’s a very simple thing to wander down to a café and have a cup of tea or coffee, or to get a guarana-based energy drink or cola from a vending machine, but how exactly does the compound affect your biology? How can you reap the benefits whilst minimising or even neutralising some of the less-than-beneficial side effects?

To reiterate, caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant. What does that mean exactly? To put it simply, caffeine, when consumed, causes the functions of the central nervous system (i.e. cognition, mental acuity etc) to operate to a higher degree. It does this by blocking the adenosine receptors in the brain, stimulating an adrenal response, and so making your brain work a bit more efficiently.

Adenosine is a compound produced naturally in the brain steadily over time whilst awake. As adenosine binds with certain receptors in the brain, the organism begins to feel more and more drowsy. Whilst sleeping, the amount of adenosine in the brain steadily decreases. Pretty simple system, right?

Caffeine gets in the middle of this process by binding with these receptors, due to its similar structure, and blocking adenosine from doing so. This essentially causes the brain to go “hang on, I’m not getting any adenosine. Better kick this bad boy into gear to figure out what’s going on”, releasing adrenaline (the “fight or flight” hormone). The adrenaline then constricts blood vessels, causing blood to flow more quickly to the brain and skeletal muscles, increasing the efficiency of those tissues and taxing the body’s resources.

The increased blood flow requires extra water to deliver more oxygen around the body, so you’re going to want to have extra water with your cup of coffee or energy drink. A study found that having a cup of coffee each week reduced iron absorption by 1%. So, for those who choose to enjoy coffee on a regular basis, increasing the vitamin C in your diet (especially between consuming caffeine and iron-rich foods) is a really great way to keep iron absorption on track; especially if you have a form of iron deficiency or stunted iron absorption.

Caffeine consumption has proliferated massively in many ways. There are now caffeinated soaps, chewing gum, and even spray-on caffeine. It’s just very interesting to see how some drugs like caffeine have been consumed in safe proportions in society completely unregulated.

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A Week In: Fallout Shelter

My experience with mobile and social media games hasn’t been the best. I find they tend to suck you in without much real enjoyable substance. That wasn’t the case with Fallout Shelter. I found it entertaining as a game, engaging as part of the Fallout franchise, and fairly easy to pick up, albeit annoying later on.

I’ll admit that, although I have racked up hundreds of hours on both Fallout 3 and New Vegas, I can’t say that I’ve explored the breadth of New Vegas or all that the DLCs for either game have to offer. Regardless, Fallout Shelter is full to the brim with weapons, outfits, and creatures straight from the Fallout Universe (even if they removed the “Sexy” from Sleepwear, pfft). Unfortunately, that did include some unnecessary sexist notions of gender roles from the 50s American culture. I understand how the inclusion of perceived gender roles adds to the post-vintage aesthetic of the Fallout franchise, but the way that was portrayed in Fallout Shelter, I feel, was a bit much.

If you aren’t totally familiar with the game, an important part of playing Fallout Shelter is increasing the population of your vault. The (arguably) easiest way to do that is by reproducing. You chuck a man and a woman into the barracks and, depending on their charisma level and how closely related they are, they’ll run into the back out of sight and soon emerge with the woman appearing already heavily pregnant. Then, if any emergencies occur, that pregnant woman will run out of the room screaming with her arms flailing in the air.

This makes total sense from a logical game mechanic perspective: Heavily pregnant women really should be trying to escape if Deathclaws are banging down your door, and it makes sense to include some overt indicator that this is why this is happening instead of the woman simply running out of the room. However, having pregnant women, who would otherwise stand down any raider with a literal smile on their face, scream incessantly whenever a small fire breaks out, seems unrealistic. I believe that it is unnecessarily portraying women as “the weaker sex”, being so fearful as to the loss of their wit at the drop of a hat. Feminist rant aside, I do recognise that it seems to be the simplest way to portray immediately to the player why the dweller is escaping the room. Although, as a friend of mine frequently says, “Simplicity is not a virtue, and complexity is not a vice.”

As for the simplicity of the game, it’s quite evident how the dev team has created the game in such a way that it conforms to the 50s-esque style of the Vault Boy without the game slowing down if rendering a large quantity of these entities. Bravo Bethesda.

The learning curve of the game is a similar story. I found it easy to pick up and learn, and, as with most games of its kind, the playing of the game developed more into resource optimisation further in (which I don’t mind). I did feel that at a certain point you pretty much hit a brick wall, needing to grind a heap of caps (that you don’t actually have much capacity to steadily produce) to upgrade some of the final rooms.

Now, unless you take it painstakingly slow, the game will come at you quickly and you’ll need to be continually locking down and optimising your resources, with your water and food needs rising with each new dweller, and your power needs rising with each new room you build to house and utilise those dwellers. All 3 resources are pretty equal in importance, but I’d say that if you don’t optimise your water production quickly and consistently, you may well just fall over and die. After all, what good is food to an irradiated corpse?

All up, the game is pretty decent, allowing you also to send dwellers out to explore the Wasteland and build rooms to increase the S.P.E.C.I.A.L Skills of your dwellers. Though, I find that these mechanics very quickly eat up a lot of time, and the game is going to give you constant notifications. So unless you want to dish out the cash for a few “Mr. Handy”s, you’ll be spending a fair amount of your days paying attention to the game.

As that’s the case, I’ll say I’ve enjoyed the game, and it’s definitely good for a bit of fun, but I’ll be putting it away for now. I wouldn’t call it a long-term game for me.

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The Battle of Hylia – An Announcement

Ok, project undertaking. I’m making a little Zelda fan-game using Gamemaker. The Battle of Hylia (name pending). Basically it’s a Fire Emblem-style turn based strategy game that takes place during the Ancient Battle in the Golden Era of the Goddess Hylia before the events of LOZ: Skyward Sword. I’ve done a preliminary (and I’m talking earliest earlier early) test on just moving and whatnot because I’m not terribly experienced with game development. However, I have done plenty of sprites in the past couple of days and I’m feeling pretty chuffed about them. So far I’ve done Battle and Map sprites for Link so that’s cool. I’m popping them up on deviantArt (If you don’t know what deviantArt is, it’s basically a massive art website, check it out) soon, on a new deviantArt account. For about 4 years I’ve had a deviantArt account that I haven’t touched for the past year or so because of connection problems and it was a username that I feel like I’ve out grown so I made a new account… EnDabuwya. So now you can find me at endabuwya.deviantart.com for all my “artistic endeavours”.

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Weekly Magic Decks – Modern Masters

Back in the saddle. After a few short hiati, I’m back to bringing you Magic Decklists every week. This week, to celebrate the release of Modern Masters, I’ve made 5 Modern decks; a Mono White Equipment Deck, a Rainbow Deck built around low cost “suspend” deck, a Mono Blue Control Deck built around gaining control of opponents cards and countering spells, a White-Black-Green Tribal Treefolk Deck, and a Black-Green Graveyard-based deck.

As always, let me know how I can improve the decks and have fun playing Magic.

Modern - Aged Aparati

Aged Aparati

bit.ly/mmmwe1 bit.ly/mtgmmwe2

Modern - Low-End Suspension

Low-End Suspension

bit.ly/mmmles1 bit.ly/mmmles2

Modern - Contemporary Timeshift

Contemporary Timeshift

bit.ly/mmmuc1 bit.ly/mmmuc2

Modern - The Walking Forest

The Walking Forest

bit.ly/mmmwbgtt1 bit.ly/mmmwbgtt2

Modern - Grim Feast

Grim Feast

bit.ly/mmmbgg1 bit.ly/mmmbgg2

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Weekly Magic Decklists – Standard

This week’s decks have come in a bit late, I know, I’ve been quite busy with a musical I’m in, which is coming up really soon so I’ve been busy with full-day rehearsals. This week’s decks are also in Standard format. Not really going to give much of a description, there’s a WU Weeny-Control Deck, BR Punishment Deck, RG Big Aggro Werewolf Deck, Massive Rainbow specific-conditions Deck, and a Rainbow +1/+1 counter Deck.

Subjects of Avacyn

bit.ly/mswuweenyctrl1 bit.ly/mswuweenyctrl2

Falkenrath Blood Feast

bit.ly/msbpunish1 bit.ly/msbpunish2

Call of the Moon

bit.ly/msrgww1 bit.ly/msrgww2

Methodic Alternation

bit.ly/mswubrgma1 bit.ly/mswubrgma2

Scoping Evolution

bit.ly/mswubrg111 bit.ly/mswubrg112

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Weekly Magic Decklists – Extended

This week’s decks are some Extended decks with a fair amount of Artefacts in them (well, Scars block…).

First of all is Myrian Contraptiousness (inventive aren’t I), a loosely mono-white Myr deck with two strategic bases, one more prominent than the other: Getting many Myrs out, and buffing them up with Equipment.

Next we have an almost completely colourless Eldrazi deck which focuses on the 3 big dudes and either mana ramping the place to get them out, or hopefully moving them to the graveyard in order to pop them out with something like Defy Death or Marshal’s Anthem.

I’ve always been a bit unsure about Ally cards, stumbling upon them every now and then so I decided since I was doing Extended this week, I’d give ’em a shot. Forged Alliance tends to focus on +1/+1 counters a bit more than the other effects, but shares it equally with awesome stuff like Agadeem Occultist’s terrific control and Seascape Aeralist’s encompassing effects. Of course since removal and destruction would ruin the symbiotic nature of the deck, I’ve tossed in a fair few recovery cards as well.

I’ve always struggled to develop stuff apart from aggro decks, and this is no exception (didn’t expect that now did ya?). Chandra’s Awakening is possibly the most aggro deck I’ve made, combining hasty Creatures and plenty of Burn to take down the opponent as soon as possible.

After reading the Gatherer rulings of Myr Propagator, I got a bit excited about the concept of propagating creatures more powerful than its original form. This led me to build a clone deck, where unfortunately there isn’t much to be done for in Extended apart from Quicksilver Gargantuan, but if I were to hit Vintage with it, ooh, the damage that could be done with a well placed Vesuvan Doppleganger along with Myr Propagator, Propagating an ever-shifting clone army that can overcome pretty much anything.

You’ll notice that the Sideboards are rather diminished, this is partially because I was a bit lazy, but also had something to do with the new rulings for M14, Sideboards can now be any size between 0 and 15, not just 0 or 15. On another note, I’m thinking of doing some Planechase decks next week or possibly the week after, I’ve been playing a fair bit of Planechase lately. Anyway…

As always, let me know how I can improve the decks and have fun playing magic.

Extended - Mono White Myr

Myrian Contraptiousness

bit.ly/mewmyr1 bit.ly/mewmyr2

Extended - Colourless Eldrazi

The Might of the Three

bit.ly/meceldrazi1 bit.ly/meceldrazi2

Extended - WUB Ally

Forged Alliance

bit.ly/mewubally1 bit.ly/mewubally2

Extended - Chandra's Awakening

Chandra’s Awakening

bit.ly/meraggro1 bit.ly/meraggro2

Extended - Dopplegang

Dopplegang

bit.ly/meuclone1 bit.ly/meuclone2

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Magic Monday – More Dragon’s Maze Standard Decks

This week’s decks are some more Standard decks that make use of Dragon’s Maze Cards, now starting to use Sideboards to further strategy a bit. I’m considering changing the day of the decks to Fridays, because, as you know, that’s Friday Night Magic in many parts of the world, and I also want to start posting some Minecraft stuff (texture pack and skin stuff) again, and the alliteration “Minecraft Mondays” works and so does Friday Night Magic (decks), but I can’t really think of anything fancy to go with Minecraft. This could just be me over thinking everything, but you never know. Anyway…

As always, let me know how I can improve the decks and have fun playing Magic.

 Standard - Violent Succession of Rot

Violent Succession of Rot

bit.ly/msubrg11 bit.ly/msubrg12

 Standard - March of the Legion

March of the Legion

bit.ly/msdmwr1 bit.ly/msdmwr2

 Standard - Repressive Decree

Repressive Decree

bit.ly/msdmwu1 bit.ly/msdmwu2

Standard - Vampiric Tithes

Vampiric Tithes

bit.ly/msdmwb1 bit.ly/msdmwb2

Standard - Aethermill

Aethermill

bit.ly/msdmub1 bit.ly/msdmub2

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