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Best Crops in Stardew Valley

June 15, 2020

This guide is for 2nd+ playthroughs. If you’re brand new to the game, I recommend playing the first year just exploring and trying out whatever you like. Stardew Valley has no time limits and there’s no reward for rushing through the game as quickly as possible. Having said that, here’s my guide to rushing through the game as quickly as possible.

General Advice
The best overall late game crop is ancient fruit, plus some starfruit for aged wine. Processing crops in kegs and preserves jars dramatically increases profitability, so make as many as you can. You can place them around town. There are two good types of crop: berries (strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries) and giant (cauliflower, melon, and pumpkin). Berries generate a large number of low value crops and earn the most profit when you sell them without processing. Berry seeds are expensive when bought from Pierre or Jojamart, but each berry can produce 1-3 seeds in the Seed Maker. Giant crops can be harvested twice per season and are high value, which is the best for turning into wine and juice. They also can turn into giant versions if planted in a 3×3 grid or larger, which yield 15-21 crops instead of the normal 9.

giant crops

Year 1, Spring
The goal is to get strawberries at the Egg Festival on the 13th. You can harvest 2 rounds of potatoes by the 12th and you can roll your profit from the first round into the second round of seeds. Plant the free parsnips you get too.

Make sure to hoe, water, and speed-gro enough spaces so you can plant your strawberries on the night of the 13th and get 3 harvests in before summer. Save some strawberries for the Seed Maker so you can start your second year Spring with strawberry planting on day 1. Plant cauliflower in any extra farm space you have left over after planting all your strawberries. Save a gold cauliflower for the Luau.

If you’re doing the Community Center, plant enough parsnips to get 5 gold ones for the quality crops bundle, and one green bean plant for the Spring Crops bundle.

Year 1, Summer
Blueberries make the most money if directly sold, but melons have higher base value and can become giant.

For the Community Center, also plant the following: hot pepper, 5 corn, sunflowers, poppy, tomato plant, and 2 spaces of wheat (7 harvests each during summer). If you have extra cash, get a pomegranate and/or apple tree.

Year 1, Fall
The three most profitable crops are:
Sweet gem berries – Seed cost is 1000 at the Traveling Cart and it sells for 3000 base yielding at least 2000 (more if higher quality). Sweet gem berries cannot be used in kegs.
Cranberries – Each plant produces 10 cranberries per season, earning 750 base profit. Seeds cost 240, yielding 490 base profit. Because they are multiple crops per harvest, it is harder to process cranberries than pumpkins. Since the seed price is high, using the seed maker to create more seeds is highly recommended.
Pumpkins – You can plant 2 rounds of pumpkins per season, earning 220 profit (320 sale price – 100 for the seeds) each time for a total of 440, before the giant crop bonus.

For bundles, plant a yam and eggplant as well. Corn, sunflower, and wheat should be completed in the summer, but if not, you can plant them now too.

Year 1, Winter
The only thing you can grow outside is Winter seeds. Save some winter seeds for planting next year. Use normal quality crops to produce seeds if you can.

Greenhouse Crops

There are 5 crops that are worthy of a coveted spot in a greenhouse.
Ancient fruit – The best endgame crop, both for kegs and for direct sale. If you’ve gotten an ancient seed, plant it here asap and turn the fruit you get into more seeds until the greenhouse is full. It is unlikely you’ll have enough ancient fruit year 1 though to fill a greenhouse.
Starfruit – The highest value base crop, which translates into the most valuable aged wine. Do not bother with starfruit if you’re planning on selling it.
If you don’t have ancient fruit or starfruit, there are 3 other good options, each with their own advantages.
Blueberries – The highest profit/day for direct sale of crops. Since they produce 3 berries with a base price of 50 each, they are a poor option for kegs, although you can make jam if you have enough preserves jars.
Strawberries – The same profit/day as cranberries, but they only produce 1 instead of 2, making them more manageable for processing into wine and jam.
Pumpkins – Lower profit per day and requires continual replanting, but since they only produce one crop every 13 days, they can be turned into juice quite easily.

A note about sweet gem berries: Although it might seem like these are a great option for the greenhouse, they cannot be processed in kegs. A sweet gem berry sells for 3000-4500, whereas starfruit wine sells for 3150. Since starfruit seeds can be bought for 400, whereas sweet gem berries seeds must either be bought one at a time for 1000 at the traveling cart or created in the seed maker, it is much more difficult to farm them in large numbers. On top of that, starfruit grows nearly twice as quickly.

The best fruit trees for the greenhouse are peach and pomegranate. They are the same profitability and are universally liked gifts.

Year 2, Spring
Now we’re into the turbocharged part of the game. Whatever excess ancient fruit seeds you have that don’t fit in the greenhouse should be planted as quickly as possible. Any remaining crop space can be filled with strawberries. Since the crop bundles/Joja Mart bundles should be complete by now, you don’t need to worry about that and can just go for pure profit. Get iridium sprinklers and Junimo huts harvesting them for maximum automation.

Year 2, Summer
Plant starfruit in the non-ancient fruit spaces. Save starfruit wine for use in casks because it is the highest value iridium quality wine.

Year 2, Fall
Same as Summer, but with sweet gem berries, pumpkins, and cranberries instead of starfruit. Do not plant any ancient fruit this late in the year.

Year 2, Winter
You should have plenty of winter seeds from last year. Although this is a low value crop, every little bit helps.

If you follow this guide, you should earn 5,000,000 + by the end of the second year, enough to set up your farm however you like and get all the fancy buildings in Year 3, such as the Gold Clock and Warp Obelisks.

Modular Chow Recipe

June 8, 2020


This is mashed cauliflower, sour cream, cheese, onions, peppers, peas, and black beans with curry powder and garlic salt.

This is not a recipe so much as a class of recipes. Any or all of these ingredients can be added to a large pot and simmered. Any special preparation will be noted.

Starch/filler
Mashed Cauliflower – Cut off leaves and stem. Cut into 4 large chunks and steam for 12 minutes. Mash and add at the end.
Beans
Rice – 1 cup. Steam separately and add at the end.
Diced potatoes – Clean, dice and boil in salted water for 15 minutes before adding. I’m not sure about different varieties so you might need to look up other recipes.
Carrots – Chop and boil for 8 minutes
Corn – steamed or canned

Proteins
I recommend 1 lb of one of the following:
Tofu – Dice. You can fry in oil and spices separately to increase flavor, or just add it.
Beef – You’ll want to fry this separately to get some browning on the meat. I don’t recommend draining the fat since you’re losing calories and it’ll all mix in at the end.
Chicken – Dice and sear 5 min before adding.
Eggs – You can just crack and egg in the pot and stir it in.

Vegetables
Onion – Fry on medium heat for 20-25 minutes before adding
Peppers- Fry on medium heat for 15-20 minutes before adding
Peas – 1 lbs. If frozen, you can steam for a bit to thaw.
Tomatoes – dice, you can use canned or fresh.
Garlic – 5 cloves, chopped. You can fry them for a bit with the onions and peppers if you prefer a less spicy flavor.
Broccoli – Trim stem, steam for 3 minutes. Broccoli cooks much faster than cauliflower. Add it at the end to avoid overcooking it.

Dairy
Cheese – As much as you like. I usually add at least 1 cup of colby jack or cheddar
Sour cream – 1/4 cup. This is a good addition if you add hot sauce
butter – 2 tbsp

Spices DO NOT ADD ALL OF THESE.
Just pick 2 or 3 and experiment with flavors. As a general rule, use a tablespoon, taste and adjust depending on what you like.
Salt
Pepper – to taste
Chinese 5 Spice
Chili powder
Curry powder
Cumin
Turmeric
Coriander
Garlic powder – if you don’t use real garlic
Onion powder – if you don’t use real onions
Hot sauce
Herb de Province
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Old Bay
Whatever you like

You can make a big pot of this stuff, freeze it and thaw it throughout the week. Stews are great meals for prepping. You can add more starches/cheap ingredients like rice and beans if you are poor and if you’re looking to improve nutrition/lose weight, use more vegetables. It’s a great flexible way to cook convenient meals.

Hopes for Police Reform

June 8, 2020

Those of us in the libertarian community have always known how dangerous the breakdown of police accountability was and our pleas mostly fell on deaf ears. It seems especially dire in the wake of the whole NFL Kaepernick protests when for the most part it seemed like people’s sympathies were on the side of the killers. In the last few years, I have seen a depressing number of videos of police killing innocent, unresisting people without being brought to justice. Police kill around a thousand people a year. Police killings per capita has the U.S. nestled comfortably between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burkina Faso. The nearest developed country has a third of ours. To put it bluntly, the Blue Menace is out of control in America and has been for some time, but for the first time in my life, it seems like people actually give a damn. In the spirit of striking while the iron is hot, the main reforms I support are:

End the War on Drugs – This is the linchpin of reform. So much of the abuses and criminal activity by the police can be traced back to conducting this policy – the no knock raids, the asset forfeiture, the militarization. Not only does the war on drugs not reduce drug abuse rates relative to a policy of treating addiction, but it is more expensive, destroys families, reduces trust of police, and basically makes every aspect of society worse. Drugs won the war a long time ago. It’s time to surrender.

Removal of Qualified Immunity – No group of people should be allowed to break the law with impunity, especially those tasked with enforcing it. Cops should be held to the same standard of behavior as everyone else. You can’t claim to be in favor of “Law and Order” and support giving a large group of people the right to commit criminal activity with no consequences. Law isn’t law if it doesn’t apply to everyone.

End Asset Forfeiture/policing for profit. Policing should be about protecting citizens from crime and maintaining order, not about extracting as much money as you can. If police need more money, taxes should be raised.

Others have written about the plethora of reforms that are needed: reducing the power of police unions, deescalation and other reforms. I support whatever criminal justice reform experts support based on evidence. Police themselves are not the enemy. There are both good cops and bad cops and it’s about having a system where bad cops are fired and good cops are well paid and promoted. Systems and institutions determine behavior more than individuals. Blame is fun, but ultimately unproductive unless it changes the system.

In the aftermath of the protests, there will be calls to defund/abolish the police. This is a big mistake. If you’re using as “merely” hyperbolic rhetoric, stop. It’s not helpful. You’re just alienating moderates whose political power you need to enact reforms that will actually improve lives. You can’t govern from the fringes, at least not if you want your reforms to last more than 4 years.

There are still going to be violent criminals out there and society will still need tough people to deal with them. Good cops will be worth their weight in gold (approximately $5 million dollars). Removing enforcement of victimless and nuisance crimes will help lighten the burden. However, wages of police will need to increase, probably at least by 20%. We need good men and women who are willing to work in a difficult environment under lots of pressure. They should be well compensated. You get what you pay for and employment is no exception. The only way for police to rebuild the trust they have lost is by continuous high standards over a long time. I hope for a brighter future.

An Obituary for Elite Dangerous

May 18, 2020

Elite Dangerous is what happens when the game developers don’t understand their own meta. It has some shining moments – exploration has some truly sublime moments and combat is solid, if unbalanced. However the game design as a whole is shallow and poorly thought out. There are three categories of gameplay: Profitable, fun, and filler. Profitable parts of the game are those where the player earns a lot of experience points, new ships, new technology, valuable items, etc. Fun parts of the game are those that players would do even without any profit – activities that are emotionally rewarding and enjoyable. Filler is any part of the game that’s neither fun nor profitable, and sadly, Elite Dangerous is 75% filler, and there is no overlap between profitable and fun activities.

There are only a few profitable activities. Mining optimal materials can earn 200 M credits per hour, but is tedious. Running optimal passenger missions can get you 60 M credits, Exploration get earn 10 M if you follow a predetermined optimized route (aka taking all the fun out of exploration). Trying any non-optimized gameplay drastically reduces earnings – usually 80% or more. You can’t just mine any material and hope to make millions an hour. You have to go to a specific planet and mine a specific resource. Same with passenger missions – pick the wrong system and earnings goes from 60 million an hour to 6 million. There is a huge discrepancy between people who use third party websites to optimize and those who do not. The former will easily be able to get top tier ships in a day, those who do not will still be kicking around in low tier ship after a week. Basically requiring players to use third party resources to be remotely effective in a MMO is very poor game design. Having only one or two viable profitable activities in a game with dozens of mission types is also a poor design choice.

Combat, the most fun activity in the game, earns maybe a couple million an hour and requires a lot of effort to get to that level of earning. Furthermore, it is the highest risk way to earn credits and getting killed by an NPC can set you back 20 mil+ easily, undoing an evening’s worth of grinding in a single mistake. PvP is an option, but with one large caveat – in order to be competitive, you need engineering modules, which entails a $30 DLC and a large grindwall, which makes it very pay to win. Furthermore, PvP is an all or nothing affair. If you’re running the ship and build needed to be competitive, you can’t do much else, so if you want to do any activity that isn’t pure fighting, you’re not going to be able to hold up in a fight against someone who is, leading to mostly lopsided fights. I enjoy multiplayer PvP as much as the next person, but Elite is just not set up for a good PvP environment.

The reason I titled this review an obituary is that I just don’t see any compelling content being added to Elite for the rest of the development cycle. It’s an old game, 5 and a half years at the time of this review and while the Thargoid (alien invasion) content seemed pretty cool, the devs don’t seem to have added anything new in a long time and the latest patch only caters to the very richest longest playing commanders and doesn’t seem to involve any interesting gameplay. Games this old can be good, but unless the devs are adding good plot lines or doing some world building, it’s rare. At this point, Elite looks like it’s in the “milking whales” phase. If you like space games and are looking to kill 20-30 hours learning the ropes on one, I’d still recommend it. Exploration is a particular highlight since the game boasts a fairly accurate scale model of the Milky Way, but overall this game looks pretty dead.

How long does it take to cook onions?

April 30, 2020

There’s a lot of misinformation out there, so I’m just going to do it and time it with pictures so you can see the stages of an onion cooking and pick your desired doneness.

1 medium onion (banana for scale)

chopped – about 2 cups

Preheat skillet at medium heat (6/10 on my stove) and add onions

5 minutes – Some onions are slightly translucent. No browning. Onions are still crisp.

10 minutes – Onions are getting softer and more translucent. Moisture is mostly cooked off by now. Still no browning.

20 minutes – Starting to see some browning. The onions are nice and soft and the harsher flavors are muted and the onions are sweeter. If I were cooking eggs or chili, this is where I’d stop cooking them. Reduced the heat a bit here (5/10) to avoid burning.

30 minutes

Obesity, Simplified

April 7, 2020

The goal of this article is to distill down as much as I can what I’ve learned about losing weight as simply as possible.

Calories In/Calories Out is tautologically true, but not helpful. Would an aeronautics engineer be satisfied with “Force up; force down” means an airplane can fly? Why bother with lift, aerodynamics, thrust, stability or any of that complicated stuff? But aircraft designers do worry about those factors because even though (force up – force down) is all that matters for whether an aircraft can fly, those other things make it much easier for a plane to fly well and easily. If you eat nothing but sugar, and eat less calories than you burn, you will lose weight. No one disputes that. However, your health will be horrible, even as you lose weight. The goal should be to create a healthy body, not just a thin one and health requires a wide range of nutrients, not just a lower calorie number.

It is hard to maintain low calories in. Your hunger will increase as you lose weight. Calories out is even worse. Your base metabolic rate (BMR) will decline as you lose weight, and exercise can force calories out to a degree but fatigue will set in. Exercise will be offset by less movement for the rest of the day as well as greater hunger levels. Exercise is great for health – probably the best single thing anyone can do, but it is very difficult to lose weight with exercise. Daily calorie restriction tends to reduce base metabolic rate, sometimes quite dramatically. A dieter’s core body temperature can even drop by a few degrees as the body tries to conserve energy. High levels of insulin hormonally prevent the body from breaking down fat, which further reduces calories out.

The body is regulated by hormones. The more your body is exposed to a chemical, the more you build up a tolerance. This is true for both drugs and hormones. If insulin is both high and persistent for a long time, your cells will get insulin resistant meaning they will not response properly to insulin, causing your pancreas to excrete more, resulting in a vicious cycle. In order to reverse insulin resistance, you need to lower your insulin until your body can recover.

The two most important hormones for regulating obesity are insulin and cortisol. Insulin causes your body to turn sugar into fat. People without insulin (type 1 diabetics) have a hard time gaining weight, no matter what they eat. People who inject insulin and those with conditions where their bodies produce too much insulin will have a hard time losing weight, despite doing their best to maintain a calorie deficit.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that regulates “fight or flight”. If cortisol is too high for too long, it can contribute to insulin resistance and weight gain. High stress levels can also cause stress eating. Get enough sleep and exercise and try to keep your overall stress levels low if you want to lose weight.

What to do?
Basic
1. Exercise. Exercise improves health more than any other single thing you can do. It’s not the most effective thing for weight loss, but it does help.

2. Don’t drink sugar sweetened drinks. They are very low satiation, raise insulin, and are absorbed very quickly into your blood stream, which puts strain on the liver. Instead drink plenty of water, tea, or black coffee.

3. Limit carbohydrates without fiber or nutrients. Bread, sugar, HFCS, rice, donuts, cake, muffins, and noodles all provide calories without any of the nutrients your body needs. If you’re overweight, your body already has all the raw calories it needs stored as fat. Only eat foods that provide micronutrients.

4. Don’t snack. Eat only full meals and drink water between meals to reduce hunger.

If you do the above and do not lose weight, you can step up the intensity. I recommend taking slow, but steady steps in improving your diet.

Week 1: Do the above 4 steps.
Week 2: Eliminating processed foods and junk foods. Eat only natural foods – fruits, vegetables, eggs, meat, dairy, nuts, beans, and legumes.
Week 3: Try going 14 hours without food. Pick a window, such as 9 am to 7 pm and don’t eat outside of it. If you find that easy, expand it to 16 hours.

Now, there are different main approaches from here, and I’d recommend experimenting. Consult your doctor before doing any radical changes to your diet, or engaging in fasting.

Keto – Reduce all carbohydrate intake to < 20 grams per day, but do not calorie restrict.
Intermittent Fasting – Reduce the “eating window” until you start to lose weight. Some people can lose weight with a window as wide as 10 hours, but personally I find more than 4 hours slows my weight loss too much.
Extended fasting – Don’t eat for 24-72 hours for one period every week, or every other week. Another fairly well studied option is alternate day fasting – only eat every other day.

Cheesy Crabcake Bites

March 27, 2020

IMG_0130
1 head cauliflower
2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Old Bay
4 eggs
1/2 lb imitation crab meat (or the real stuff if you’re fancy)

Steps:
1.) Cut leaves/base off the cauliflower and broccoli. Steam it for 12 minutes or until soft. Mash into paste.

IMG_0128

2.) Lightly fry crab meat. Cut into small bits.

4.) Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix.

5.) Preheat oven to 400 F.
IMG_0129
6.) Grease a baking tray. Separate ingredients into 1 inch balls and put on the pan, spacing evenly.

7.) Bake for 15 min, flip, bake for 15 more minutes.

Post script: I have discovered that using the flour to bread the balls is better than mixing it in.

Pizza Dough

September 27, 2019

Mix in a large bowl:
2 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt (or 1 teaspoon garlic salt, and 1 teaspoon regular salt)
4 teaspoons yeast
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano or Italian seasoning mix
4 cups flour

Add in 1-2 more cup of flour slowly until it mostly stops sticking to the bowl.

Let rise for 3 hours.

World Of Warplanes Tech Tree (Update 2.1)

September 27, 2019

USA

Soviet Union

Germany

Japan

UK

China

Europe

Warframe Index Guide

July 18, 2019

The Index on Neptune is the fastest way to earn credits in Warframe by a wide margin. Here are some tips to help you maximize your earnings/time. You can unlock it by playing the Glast Gambit quest, which you get by speaking to Ergo Glast of the Perrin Sequence after completing the War Within quest.

The basic gameplay loop is simple:
– Look for enemies. You will spend most of the time doing this as enemy spawn rates are low and fights tend to be fast. Therefore, having a movement speed mod or two is worthwhile.

– Kill enemies as quickly as possible. This requires high burst damage at close range, so shotguns are the best. Pyrana Prime, Tigris Prime, Mara Detron, Opticor, or Vaykor Hek + your favorite melee.

– Turn in points to hit a target at the waypoint. Turn in your points at 5 or 15. 15 is the optimal for bonus points because it gives you +8 for 15. 20 only gives you 10, which is the same as turning in 15 and then turning in 5, but you have to deal with more “Financial Stress” if you carry around 20+.

Financial Stress is the debuff your Warframe gets when you play at higher risk levels or carry more points. It reduces health, shields, and drains your energy. If you have a lot of points, the energy drain can get quite severe, so if you’re playing a DPS frame, let someone else carry and turn in points for your team.

Warframes
Rhino is the best Warframe for solo play or random teams. It is an energy poor environment, with energy orbs spawning infrequently and energy drain from Financial Stress. Rhino only needs a bit of energy to use Iron Skin and then can keep that armor indefinitely. Rhino doesn’t care what his health or shields are as long as Iron Skin is up.

Atlas can block off the goal with rocks and prevent the enemy team from scoring. This is normally not a big deal as losing is pretty rare, but it’s worth mentioning since it does come in handy.

Mesa is too fragile to carry points, but she has incredible DPS and can defend and kill very effectively.

Loki can use invisibility to survive instead of Iron Skin, but watch out for stray bullets and energy drain. You’ll need to pick up energy orbs and instantly go invisible.

Nova can use Molecular Prime to slow enemies and increase the damage they take. This is only worthwhile if you’re doing multiple waves of high risk runs, as otherwise the enemies never get strong enough to require that level of firepower.

If you have some other Warframe you’ve done very well with, please let me know in the comments.