Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Eggs: Should you eat the Yolk?

Egg Yolks, the colored part of the egg, have gotten a bad reputation for being high in cholesterol.  As a result, many people prefer to eat eggs without the yolk.  Studies in the past few years have shown us a different picture.

A 2012 University of Connecticut study had volunteers consume 3 whole eggs a day or 3 egg whites a day for three months.  Both groups experienced drops in bad cholesterol (LDL).  But, those who ate the whole eggs saw a bigger increase in their good cholesterol (HDL).  

Maria Fernandez, author of the study, says "Egg yolks seem to increase the amount of cholesterol delivered to the liver for removal from the body."  So even though egg yolks have cholesterol in them, they help remove more of the bad cholesterol from your body.  

In conclusion, Egg Yolks are not as bad as people thought.  I recommend eating them because not only do they lower your cholesterol, but you already paid for the egg so you might as well eat the whole thing.  Whether runny, firm, or hard boiled, experiment with egg yolks to find which consistency tastes the best for you.

Source: Special Men's Health EAT Edition 2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Three Ways to Increase Your Metabolism

Now that the Holidays are winding down, most of us are putting our clothes on in the morning and wondering "Is it just me, or did this get tighter?"  Here are three ways that you can increase your Metabolism, which will increase the amount of calories you burn each day.

1. Strength Training:  Strength training doesn't have to mean lifting weights, it can also mean body weight exercises as well.  Exercising helps you burn calories and build muscle.  Each pound of muscle you gain burns an addition 14 calories a day.

2. Eat More Protein: Protein uses 20%-30% of it's calories in order to be digested, compared with 5%-15% for Carbohydrates.  The best type of protein are found in dairy products, eggs, meat, and fish.

3. Drink Green Tea: Green Tea contains a compound called ECGC, which has been proven to increase fat burning.  Drink 2-3 cups a day to reap the maximum benefits.  Note: Decaf tea doesn't work.

Source: Women's Health Magazine

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Magical Brazil Nut

We have all tried peanuts, cashews, and almonds before.  But there is a new type of Nut that has been getting attention lately: Brazil Nuts.

Brazil Nuts have a rich creamy flavor.  But more importantly are the health benefits.  Brazil Nuts are the richest known food source of selenium.  Eating just two of the nuts provides you with more than a day's worth of the mineral.

Selenium plays a role in keeping your metabolism and immune system running smoothly.  In addition, it helps your body absorb Vitamin E, which can help prevent cataracts.  In addition to Selenium, Brazil Nuts are a great source of copper, zinc, potassium, and magnesium.

Although Brazil Nuts are more expensive than regular nuts, the health benefits it provides are worth the cost.  A 2 pound bag can be purchased on Amazon for $18, the link is below the picture.

Source: Eat This Not That Fall 2015 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

5 Ways to Shop Smarter in a Supermarket

Have you ever gone to the Supermarket to pick up a carton of milk and end up leaving with two grocery bags full of goods?  I know I have.  While buying unintentional things may be satisfying, the extra items take up space in your home, not to mention cost extra money you did not plan on spending that day.  Here are 5 Ways to Shop Smarter, and spend less money, in a Supermarket:

1. Pay in Cash instead of using a Card

A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research tracked the grocery-shopping habits of 1000 houses over a six month period.  The study found that shoppers who paid with a credit card spent 59%-78% more on their grocery bills than shoppers who paid with cash.

2. Snack before you Shop

This is a rule I should follow more often.  When you are hungry, everything looks good.  There have been times where I have been mindlessly grabbing food and putting it into my cart.  Eating something, even if it's just a piece of fruit or granola bar, will temporarily take the hunger away from you so you can focus on what you went to the Supermarket for.

3. Shop on Weekday Nights

Most people, including myself, shop on the Weekends.  If it's possible, consider going on a Weeknight instead.  There will be less people around, which means you will be able to get in and out of the aisles faster.  According to Progressive Grocer, only 11% of Americans shop on Wednesdays.  But the other days of the workweek are also effective.

4. Have a Grocery List

This may seem obvious, but having a grocery list can help keep you focused on why you are at the Supermarket and what you Need to buy.  Nowadays with our smartphones, you can just write your grocery list on a Note or Memo, so there is no "I forgot my Grocery list at home" excuse anymore.

5. Beware of Samples

We have all been there.  You are just strolling through the store when you come across a table with an employee behind it, advertising a new product and offering a free sample of it.  "It's free.  What do I have to lose?" you think.  You try the free sample, and unsurprisingly, it's delicious.  The employee mentions how the store is running a sweet deal this week only on the product, and entices you to buy it.  Only when you get home do you realize that you now have 3 Family Size bag of Chips, with the expiration date a month away.

Moral of the Story: In store samples are marketing tactics designed to get you to purchase their product.  The smell of fresh food and drink, along with a special promotional price, is effective at  encouraging you to buy the product.  Proceed with caution.

Source: Eat This Not That Magazine Spring 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CounterStrike: Source

Counter Strike is one of the most popular FPS games of all time.  First released in 1999, it quickly became a hit amongst the competitive gaming industry.  Fast forward to 2004, when CounterStrike: Source came out.  CounterStrike: Source took the original CounterStrike and graphically updated it so it would look a lot cleaner.  Though there is much debate over this topic, Source is my favorite CounterStrike game.

In CounterStrike, there are 2 teams: Terrorists (T's), and Counter-terrorists (CT's).  The objective of the game was to accomplish the objective in the map.  There were three main objectives:

1. Bomb Maps: The Terrorists must plant a bomb in a designated location, and defend it until it explodes.  The Counter-Terrorists must defuse the bomb before it goes off.

2. Hostage Maps: The Counter-Terrorists must locate and rescue a group of hostages that are being held by the terrorists.  The Terrorists must prevent the hostages from reaching the rescue point.

Winning by killing the other team

3. Other: Eliminate the opposing team before they kill you

In Bomb and Hostage maps, winning can also be achieved by killing the entire enemy team.


I first played CounterStrike Source at my friend's house.  I would go over his house on the weekends, and we would play CounterStrike.  Because he only had one computer, we would have to take turns.  But I had fun spectating the game aswell.  The map we used to play a lot was called fy_simpsons.  The map is really small, and is perfect for fast rounds. 
fy_simpsons: One of my favorite maps.

*Note: All of the following screenshots were taken by me*

A Player Created Map based off of Pac-Man

My favorite part of CounterStrike was the Player Modded maps.  Players who knew how to code could create their own maps that people could play on.  The only limitation was a person's imagination, or their programming skill.  One of the more memorable Player Modded maps I have played on is called de_thematrix.  This map was a re-creation of the Matrix, and contained many elements from the Matrix Movies (ex: The Dojo, White Room, Telephone).

A Player Created map with Tron bikes.

widow: Always at the top of the leaderboards

One of the best parts of playing CounterStrike is developing Rivalries with other players.  I have spent over 1000 hours playing CounterStrike.  Having played against thousands of people, the best player I have faced is this guy named widow.  Widow is a retired CounterStrike professional player, which would help explain why he's go good at the game.  We used to play on the same server together.  The map was always cs_office.  I have played over 10,000 rounds on that map, and I know all the hiding spots and where the enemy will be.  But, I still couldn't Widow. Everytime I would run into him, I would press my mouse to fire my gun, but he would always kill me first.  It was a very frustrating experience.  But, it was also very rewarding when I finally did kill him.

I killed widow!

There was this other server I liked to play a lot.  What made this server special was that it was a Bot server.  Humans on one team.  Bots on the other.  While this may seem easy, it wasn't.  If the humans started winning, the Bots got harder.  It was not uncommon to be facing Bots with over 200 Health!  This made it an added challenge where you really had to be smart and use teamwork in order to succeed.

A line of Bots all sufferring the same fate: Death.

My score of 32-4 on the Bot Server. 
After years of playing, I eventually formed a clan with a few of my friends.  The clan was called GAUSS, and we were mainly a casual CounterStrike clan.  The purpose of the clan was so we could play together and develop teamwork and different strategies.  We would communicate through Skype, so we would be able to hear each other while playing.  This made it more effective when relaying enemy location points to each other.  Playing with friends was a great part of playing CounterStrike, and motivated you to perform better and improve your skills.

Me and my Friend representing GAUSS Clan
Our scores after A nice clan scrimmage

At the height of its Popularity, CounterStrike Source was an amazing game.  It was a classic FPS game with no gimmicks.  There was no regenerating health like in Call of Duty, no shield like in Halo.  It was a game of skill and mastery.  Play enough, memorize the maps, and you will do well. 

de_dust2, one of the most popular maps in CounterStrike

Nowadays, CounterStrike Source has died down.  This is due to a new game called CounterStrike: Global Offensive, that came out in 2013.  Most of the players switched to Global Offensive, leaving Source quieter than ever.  I tried Global Offensive, but I just couldn't get used to it.  Source was better in almost every way to me.  I still play Source, but there are a lot less servers to choose from nowadays.  Before, it was "Wow, there's so many choices!  Which server should I join?"  Now, it's "Which servers have people playing in them?"

One of the servers I play on these days: Old Drunk Men

But I will never forget those days, playing CounterStrike Source with my friend, facing off against people like widow, and dying and dying again.  The thing was: I kept dying against him, but I kept coming back for more.  You know a game is good when you keep losing but keep coming back for a second shot, a chance to die a more honorable death. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gunz The Duel: (2006-2013)

Gunz the Duel was a massive multiplayer online 3rd-person shooting game created by a company called MAIET Entertainment.  It was first released in the US in November 2006.  Gunz was unlike any shooting game that previously came out before it.  Players could run on the side of walls, block bullets with their sword, and tumble around the map like a gymnast.  Best of all, the game was free-to-play, although there was an online shop where you could spend real money and buy fashionable clothing sets and weapons.

These outfits cost real money.  But the fun was for free.

Surprisingly, what made Gunz widely successful and popular was due to a glitch in the game.  People were able to exploit the sword mechanics in the game, and thus "K-Style" was born.  K-Style, which stood for Korean Style, consisted of advanced keyboard combinations using a sword.  The discovery of K-Style allowed players to learn highly effective moves and combinations that greatly increased their skill and chance of killing their opponent.

The Online Shop in the game where you could buy items and dress up your character.

There were many game modes available to play, such as Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and Assassination.  But by far my favorite mode was the Quest Mode.  In Quest Mode, you team up with your fellow players to defeat monsters and collect treasure chests, which contain items inside.  Players would sell the items for money, which is used to buy new weapons and clothing. 

Aneramon Boss in Gunz, the one I hated the most.

On rare occasions, you would find a boss item inside the treasure chest.  By combining certain boss items and sacrificing them, you were able to face Bosses.  The Boss Battles were always a lot of fun, even if you lost.  There were certain bosses that were extremely difficult, such as Aneramon, shown above.  Only experienced players with good communication skills were able to emerge victorious at the end.

The Boss known as "Lich".

What made Gunz the Duel fun to me was because it was a unique aspect on a genre.  There have been plenty of shooting games that have come out, but there hasn't been anything like Gunz.  Gunz takes the shooting aspect, and adds a Matrix-like dimension where you can perform moves like running on walls.  It was a shooting game on steroids.  The discovery of K-Style added a whole new element to the game that took everyone by storm.  If you didn't learn K-Style, you feel behind and became easy fodder.  Below is the original trailer for Gunz the Duel.  This is a small sample of what is possible in the game. 

Gunz is a game of Mastery, a game with a steep learning curve that requires patients and hours of practice.  This can be a turnoff for some people, but it was motivation for me.  There was a period of time when I was addicted to the game.  I remember coming back home from school and going right to my computer to play Gunz.  Homework could wait, there were more important matters at hand.  There were some days where my parents had to yell at me to get off the computer because I was playing Gunz.

A personal screenshot of mine I found online.

However, I have to point out one of the negatives about Gunz: Hackers.  Hacking was prevalent in Gunz.  Oftentimes, while in a game, a hacker would join and ruin all the fun.  It's not cool facing someone with super speed and infinite health with the ability to kill you in one second.  Thankfully, there were options that allowed you to kick the hacker from the room.

A Hacker using the "Lawnmower" Hack.  If you touched the yellow orb you automatically died.

Despite all this, Gunz was overall a very fun game to me, and I spent hundreds of hours playing it.  Therefore, I was saddened when I found out that the game was to be cancelled at the end of May 2013.  It is currently March 2015, and it has been almost 2 years since I have played Gunz.  There are some private servers available where people recreated the game, but I have not joined any.  I think it is for the better.  I do not want to get addicted again, not when I am about to graduate in two months.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Runescape: The Glory Days

*Disclaimer: This post will deal with Runescape as it was played years ago, not the new Runescape that most people play now.  Some people call this Old School Runescape.  I call it the Glory Days.*

I first started playing Runescape in September of 2003.  This was way back in the day, long before Runescape became the most popular free MMORPG of all time.  The plot was simple.  You created your own character, and did whatever you want. 
Runescape Classic: When things were Simple

There was no clear objective to do, rather you could do whatever you wanted.  If you wanted to kill monsters and enemies, go ahead.  If you wanted to chop down trees, catch shrimp, and cook yourself a nice dinner, be my guest.  If you wanted to just walk around and talk to other players and meet people from around the world, do it.  Nobody is stopping you. 

A bunch of players hanging out.

As time passed, the game evolved.  A year or two after I joined, Runescape 2 came out.  Runescape 2 made Runescape 1 look like a Beta version.  The graphics engine was entirely revamped, and so was the combat sytem.  It was like an entirely different game in itself.  It took a while for me to adjust, but when I did, I found it a lot of fun.

Runescape 2: A complete Graphical remake of Runescape 1

The best part of Runescape for me was the fact that it was an MMORPG.  I found it a revelation that I could talk to random people from the comfort of my bedroom.  There was a friends list where you could add people you have met.  Adding people to your friends list would give you an alert whenever they logged on.  Therefore, you would know when your friend was playing, and could coordinate hanging out with them online.

At the height of Runescape popularity.

It didn't take long for Runescape to become very popular.  At the height of popularity, there would be over 200,000 people online during peak hours of the day.

My favorite part of Runescape was playing a mini-game called Castle Wars.  I have easily spent over 2000 hours playing Castle Wars, and I do not regret it one bit.  Castle Wars is basically Capture the Flag.  There is a flag in each castle, and you have to steal the enemies flag and bring it back to your own base.  At the same time, you have to prevent the enemy from stealing your flag and running back to their base.  A game lasted 20 minutes long, and the team that scored the most points was declared the winner.  Even though the game seemed simple, there was a high amount of strategy involved.  There were specific Clans people made that you could join that were dedicated to Castle Wars, and I was a part of one of them.   

Two opponents meeting each other in Castle Wars

You may be wondering: Do I still play Runescape?  Sadly, the answer is No.  I stopped playing in May of 2012.  The next question to ask: Why?  Is it because you grew up?  No, that is not the reason.  The reason I quit Runescape is I did not like the updates and changes that the company was making to the game.  Starting in 2011, Runescape became more "money focused" rather than "content focused".  It seemed like the content that they were required you to spend real money to fully enjoy them. 

This picture shows the graphical improvements of Runescape

In addition, the community changed.  The days of people playing Runescape for fun and enjoyment was over.  Now, it was all about "Who can get to the highest level in the fastest amount of time?"  People were complaining about how long it took them to level up, and how boring it was doing the same thing over and over again.  To these people, it was like playing Runescape was a chore, not something to be looked forward to.

Monster Hunting in Runescape: Killing the King Black Dragon

Having said all that, Runescape still was a great and amazing game.  The concept of an Adventure game, where you can explore and do whatever you want: killing monsters, go on Quests, talk with people from around the world, was revolutionary for me.  And all those hours I spent playing Castle Wars, playing until my eyes hurt from staring at the computer screen.  Those were the days...


Monday, March 23, 2015

Grand Theft Auto 3


Those were always the first combination of buttons I would press whenever I played Grand Theft Auto 3 (GTA 3).  Pressing the buttons in the order above would unlock all the weapons in the game.  Basically, you had every single gun and could go on a one man killing spree.  

It's hard to believe that it's been over 13 years since GTA 3 released.  Taking place in a fictional place called Liberty City, Grand Theft Auto 3 is mainly known for being one of the first Open World games.  Instead of being forced to do things in an A-B-C format, the player was free to roam around and do whatever they desired.  Interested in playing by the book?  Complete the missions and see the story unfold.  Walk past a really nice looking car?  Steal it.  Don't like the look the old lady gave you as she walked past you?  Beat her up.  When the game released the only limitation in GTA 3 seemed to be your own imagination.

"Excuse me, sir.  Your car looks nice.  It's mine now."

Driving a Car on water.  Only possible in Grand Theft Auto.

Of course, you can't do anything you want in the game without consequences.  Killing someone usually attracted the attention of the police.  They would try to arrest you and bring you down.  Usually, the easiest solution would be to kill them.  Which is what I would do.  One of my favorite things to do in the game is steal a car, run over a bunch of people until the police started chasing me in their vehicles, and try to outrun them "Fast and Furious" style.  The purpose was to see how long you could survive before you got caught.  I would think I got pretty good at it.

Once you are are caught, or "busted", you are sent to the nearest police station.  

GTA 3 is one of my favorite games because of the freedom you have.  My friend was the one who owned the game, and he lived 2 doors down from me.  95% of the time when we played, we just went around exploring and killing people.  On the rare occasion, we attempted a few missions, but oftentimes would get sidetracked by a nice car.  There was also the "Mature" aspect of the game that appealed to me.  I was 9 when GTA 3 came out.  Playing a "M" rated game with blood, guns, and killing, a game I was technically not supposed to be playing, definitely added to the enjoyment.  

Walking around Liberty City like a boss, Rocket Launcher in hand.

Years later, I feel that GTA 3 still holds up well compared to the games available today.  Sure, the graphics might be outdated, but the open world experience and fun you can have never gets old.  If you gave me a PS2 and GTA 3 right now, I would happily spend a few hours immersed in the world of Liberty City.  But first, R2, R2, L1, R2, LEFT, DOWN, RIGHT, UP, LEFT, DOWN, RIGHT, UP.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pokemon Crystal

The Pokemon craze hit when I was in elementary school.  Pokemon was everywhere you went, it seemed impossible to escape.  Walking around school, I would see my classmates with Pokemon T shirts, Pokemon Hats, Pokemon Backpacks, even Pokemon Lunchboxes.  It was crazy, and I was a victim of the craze.  I had the Pokemon Trading Cards, but what I really coveted was my own Pokemon Video Game.  I wanted to be like the other people who could train and raise their own Pokemon pet.

The Pokemon craze was everywhere.

It took a few years, but I finally got my opportunity.  My neighbor had a copy of Pokemon Crystal, and I had a copy of Super Mario Bros: Deluxe.  We traded games for a day.  He liked Super Mario Bros.  I liked Pokemon Crystal.  I asked him if he wanted to trade games.  He said yes.  Success!  It was painful to let go of Super Mario Bros: Deluxe, because I really did like the game, and I hadn't beaten it yet.  The only way to remedy this was to take full advantage of the Pokemon Crystal Experience.

The most important decision you will make in the game: Which Pokemon do you choose?

Pokemon Crystal continues with the classic Pokemon format where you get to select your own Pokemon (out of 3) and go on an adventure, meeting cool people, battling familiar foes, and discovering new Pokemon creatures.  When I received the game, my neighbor had already started a save file, so I just continued from where he left off.  But thankfully, he was still in the beginning stages, so I didn't miss much.

A Map of the Radio Tower.  Buena is on the bottom right (Red Hair)

One of my favorite memories from the game was a Radio Quiz called Buena's Password.  At a certain time in the day, if you tuned in to Buena's radio station, she would announce a password.  After hearing the password, you could go to her location in the Radio Tower and recite the password to her.  Doing this would give you points, which you could cash in to get sought after prizes, such as a gold nugget.  I often would get up early before school just so I could listen to Buena on the radio and accumulate points.

A Gold Nugget: Worth 5000 coins.

Pokemon Crystal was one of my favorite games because you wrote your own adventure.  If you wanted to, you could breeze through the game in 20 hours.  But for people like me, who wanted to catch Pokemon, explore new places, and just walk around the virtual world, it offered a lot more.  It allowed me to escape from my house in New Jersey, and transport me to the Pokemon Johto region.  It was there where I didn't have to focus on stuff in real life like trying to learn Chinese, the only thing I had to focus on was trying to find rare Pokemon.

To this day, I still would rather search for hours trying to find rare Pokemon than learn Chinese.