Custom Drinks

Now here’s a Starbucks seasonal beverage that I can get behind: the Pumpkin Spice latte!  It smells great, it tastes great!  What can possibly make it better?  Until this fall I would have said “Nothing!”  I would have been wrong.

If there was a flaw in the Pumpkin Spice Latte, it was that it wasn’t smooth. It’s very good and I like it, but could it be better? Think of the difference between an orange Popsicle and an orange Dreamsicle.  The Popsicle is very good.  The Dreamsicle is better.

Here’s now to turn your Pumpkin Spice Latte into something a little smoother, a little creamier: White Mocha.  Order your Pumpkin Spice Latte with half Pumpkin Spice and half White Mocha.  It’s smoother and creamier and, surprisingly, loses none of the taste.  The White Mocha just mellows it a little.

I wish I could take credit for this on my own, but I was introduced to it by a former Starbucks employee that I met while painting pottery at Busch Gardens over the summer.  I don’t know his name, but I love his drink.  I’m betting anyone else who likes Pumpkin Spice will too.  Go ahead.  Try it.  I’ll wait.  Better yet, I’ll go get one too.

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Ever17, prologue


Kadh let me borrow his copy of Ever17 so I could play the game.  It came with the promise that this is the best VN (visual novel) ever.  Add in the benefit of no sexual content and I was willing to give it a try.  Every other VN I’ve played has loads of sex.

The first thing I noticed was that it’s an old game.  The resolution must be no more than 800×600 in the 4:3 format.  That meant either looking at the game through a tiny window or changing my screen resolution to match the game and changing it back when I’m done playing.  I chose the former and quickly switched to the latter.

I read the manual before playing and it seems there are two playable (male) characters and a cast of five (female) characters to interact with.  That’s not unusual.  Oddly, two of the female characters don’t appear in all playthroughs.  If you choose one protagonist, one girl is missing.  If you choose another protagonist, another girl is missing.

I decided to play through in alphabetical order: Sara, Sora, Tsugumi, Yuu.  Kadh advised me to go in the order Sora, Yuu, Tsugumi, Sara instead.  So, I’m doing the Sora route, which means my main character is Takeshi.

After setting the game up, I only had a little while to play and I got just far enough to choose which protagonist I will be playing. I made a few notes.

The game has an odd focus on the exact time.  Takeshi’s first appearance is at 11:17 AM and The  Kid’s is at 11:34 AM.  Here are my initial impressions.  Takeshi seems rather stupid.  Coco is extremely childish.  The Kid is confused and I think there’s something wrong with him beyond amnesia.  I think the mascot that beat Takeshi up and put The Kid in its costume is Tsugumi.

In the hospital room, The Kid has a weird out of body experience where he sees Coco, himself and Sara, and a bunch of red lights.  Suddenly, however, he’s back at the pool where he started at 11:34 and it appears that he jumps in and starts swimming. Instead of letting himself drown, he swims toward a light.

Then I get the choice of being Takeshi and looking for his friends, or of being The Kid and figuring out who he is.  The Kid’s problem seems more interesting, but I follow the advice I’ve been given and choose Takeshi’s quest.

Has he been trapped in an elevator with Tsugumi for three hours before trying to get out on his own?

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Anniversary Blend

It’s fall and that means that Starbucks’ Anniversary Blend is out.  This is one of my favorite coffees from Starbucks.  I look forward to it every year and usually buy three bags of the stuff to last me for a few months. This year’s batch was recommended to me by my favorite barista as being exceptionally good.  Here’s what is says about the taste on

Region: Asia/Pacific
Tasting Notes: Smooth and spicy with a butter and caramel finish
Flavor Intensity: Extra bold

Unfortunately, I don’t agree.  I like that Starbucks is a burnt roast coffee.  I like the syrupy taste this gives their coffees.  In this coffee, however, that’s all there is.  It’s smooth, yes.  I don’t notice any extra spiciness that you wouldn’t find in a normal Sumatra.  I certainly didn’t notice a butter and caramel finish.  It’s a one-note coffee, but it’s a very good one-note.  I can’t recommend this coffee for its subtlety of taste.  Honestly, I think you would be better served just buying the regular Sumatra.

Tomorrow: Ever 17, The Beginning
Next week: A seasonal coffee beverage worth cheering about.

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The perils of blogging

I know anyone who has a blog already understands this, but I don’t care.  I have a rant to get off of my chest.  I’ve made a few entries to this blog already.  So far, only one of them has a reply.  This does not bother me.  I didn’t expect a large readership, especially at this point.  What bothers me is that over 90 percent of the responses have been a) spam or b) auto-generated.  Fortunately, the auto-generated ones get taken care of without my input.  But, the spam ones I either have to allow by default or review them each personally before deciding whether to post them or not.  What a pain that is.  What’s even funnier is that all of this spam has only been on the opening post.  None on later posts.  Odd.

Oh, and my computer is making funny noises.

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Ever 17

Ever 17 is a visual novel from Japan.  Thankfully, there is a PC version in English.   This introduced me to the computer game I love the most of all the games I’ve ever played.  I can’t recommend this game enough.

Yes there are slow parts.  Yes it’s confusing – at least until you solve it.  No, there’s not a lot of animation.  The payoff is worth it.  It’s worth paying whatever the price is for an old copy.  No, you can’t have mine.

They’re doing a remake for Xbox.  It’s in Japanese only.  This makes me consider both buying an Xbox for myself and learning to read Japanese.  It’s that good.

What’s Ever 17 about?  Six people are trapped in an underwater theme park due to an accident.  Can they get out before it’s too late?  There are two playable male characters and each character has two main paths, focusing on one of the female characters.  Each path has a good ending and a bad ending.  Going through all of these opens up a final path.  That’s where the payoff is.  I had a lot of fun trying to figure out what’s going on before the final path.

Find it.  Buy it.  Play it.

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Starbucks Petites

So begins Kadh’s blog.

So, Starbucks has new small dessert options called “petites”.  I’ve tried them all and here’s what I have to say about them.

The Birthday Cake Pop (170 calories) is okay.  Cake and frosting should be good and simple.  It’s kind of boring and the frosting isn’t as good as you get on your average cake bought at the local grocery store.

The Carrot Cake Mini Cupcake (190 calories) is dry.  The topping is good.

The Lemon Sweet Square (120 calories) is pretty good.  The topping isn’t overpowering, although I would prefer simple powdered sugar.  The cake itself is tasty without overpowering or artificial lemon taste.  One of my favorites.

The Peanut Butter Mini Cupcake (180 calories) is dry.  Go eat a peanut butter cup instead.

The Red Velvet Whoopie Pie (190 calories) was good.  The inside is creamy and the cake tastes like cake.  In western PA, we call them mini-gobs.  Other places call them bobs, black-and-whites,  or BFOs (Big Fat Oreos).

The Rocky Road Cake Pop (180 calories).  Oops, I didn’t try this one.  I’ll have to fix that.

The Salted Caramel Sweet Square (190 calories) was also yummy.  I like salted caramel so this went right to the spot.  I could have done without the pretzels, but otherwise it was pretty good.

The Tiramisu Cake Pop (170 calories) was okay.  Better than the Birthday Cake Pop, and not bad.  I like just about anything with a bit of coffee flavor.

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