The Last of Us Microreview

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The Last of Us Microreview – 20/20!

The Last of Us is an action / adventure survival horror video game developed by Naughty Dog and published by Sony Computer Entertainment.

You play as Joel, a smuggler in a now post-apocalyptic United States, as he escorts a teenage girl named Ellie across the country. Firearms and improvised weapons can be used, in stealth or a more direct approach, against hostile humans and the Infected. The Infected are once human beings who have been exposed to fungus spores that warp their minds and mutate them into cannibalistic creatures akin to zombies.

Naughty Dog is exceptional at bringing all the heart and soul into their stories. I am a total coward when it comes to survival horror games, but I had heard so many good reviews about this game’s story that I had to bold-up and experience it for myself. In terms of emotion and storytelling, this is truly one of the greatest games ever created and I cannot wait for Part II!

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

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Coconut Oil for Health

CoconutOilThe more I research and use coconut oil, the more I am convinced it is one of those rare ingredients (much like apple cider vinegar) that can be used for all kinds of good in your life. Some of these remedies will take more than one application to work, so don’t lose hope if you apply once and your acne doesn’t immediately vanish!

  • Acid Reflux – Take a small spoonful of coconut oil with meals to help prevent acid reflux and heartburn.
  • Acne – Coconut oil gently fights the bacteria that cause acne. Dab it directly on the offending pimples and watch them shrink.
  • After Shave – Coconut oil soothes sensitive skin and promotes healing
  • Age Spots – Coconut oil has beneficial effects on any skin blemish. Use it to help fade age spots with powerful antioxidants.
  • Athletes Foot – The powerful antifungal properties of coconut oil make it perfect for any fungal infection. Add a few drops of oregano or tea tree oil for more antifungal power.
  • Bones – Coconut oil aids the body in the absorption of calcium and magnesium. Both minerals are important for strong bones and teeth.
  • Bruises – Rub coconut oil into bruised skin to speed healing and watch the bruises fade fast.
  • Canker Sores – Dab coconut oil on canker sores to kill infection and speed up healing.
  • Chicken Pox  – Ease the itch and encourage healing with dabs of coconut oil.
  • Cleanser – Coconut oil makes an effective and gentle cleanser to remove the grime of the day.
  • Cold Sore  – Coconut oil has antiviral properties that will help the body get rid of the virus that causes cold sores. Rub it on when needed and add a drop of oregano oil to speed healing.
  • Conditioner – Coconut oil conditions, strengthens, and repairs hair. Massage it in and rinse it out after ten minutes. A small amount can be rubbed in to dry hair to tame frizz.
  • Cooking – Coconut oil doesn’t transform into harmful by-products when heated like most other oils and animal fats. Use it to replace butter, cup for cup in recipes. Sauté, cook, bake, broil, braise, and more using coconut oil as a healthier alternative.
  • Cradle Cap – Coconut oil is gentle and safe for infants and helps ease the itching, pain, redness, and flaking associated with cradle cap.
  • Curb Appetite – Take a spoonful before meals to curb appetite so you don’t overeat.
  • Dandruff – Massage coconut oil into the scalp to ease symptoms of dandruff, both itching and flaking.
  • Deodorant – Mix coconut oil with cornstarch, baking soda, and your favorite essential oils for a natural deodorant that smells fantastic.
  • Diaper Rash – Coconut oil can help heal mild diaper rash gently and effectively.
  • Earaches – Earaches, swimmer’s ear, and ear infections clear up fast with a few drops of coconut oil mixed with garlic oil.
  • Energy – Coconut oil and its medium chain triglycerides make it an excellent energy source to improve stamina, endurance, or just to give you a boost through the day.
  • Eye Cream – Reduce puffiness and dark circles with a few dabs of coconut oil.
  • Fitness – Coconut oil boosts energy, increases metabolism, improves thyroid function, and aids healthy weight loss.
  • Furniture Polish – Coconut oil gives a protective shine to wood furniture. Test on a small area first.
  • Gum Removal – Coconut oil gets the sticky stuff out of hair, carpet, and anywhere else it doesn’t belong.
  • Hemorrhoids – Coconut oil eases the pain and discomfort of hemorrhoids and encourages natural healing both internally and externally.
  • Lice – Coconut oil kills and removes this pesky problem.
  • Lip Balm – Coconut oil hydrates and protects lips and offers some protection from the sun (spf 4).
  • Lubricant – Coconut makes an all-natural personal lubricant for intimate moments without chemicals.
  • Makeup Remover – Coconut oil removes oil-based makeup easily, like mascara. It cleans, hydrates, and makes skin glow.
  • Massage Oil – Coconut oil soothes tired and sore muscles. Add a few drops of essential oils for more effect.
  • Moisturizer – Coconut oil is an excellent way to soften and hydrate dry, rough, or damaged skin.
  • Nose Bleeds – Rub a bit of coconut oil in nostrils to fight the dry cracking that can lead to nose bleeds.
  • Nursing – Coconut oil works great to repair dry, cracked skin, including sore nipples from nursing.
  • Pet Health – Coconut oil can do a multitude of things for pets, both topically and internally. It improves breath, makes for a shiny coat, eases joint problems, cleans ears, gets rid of fleas, and much more.
  • Ring Worm – Rub coconut oil onto affected area to kill the fungus that causes ringworm. Add tea tree oil to clear the infection even faster.
  • Shaving Cream – Coconut oil keeps the razor gliding smoothly while leaving skin smooth and soft.
  • Skin Condition – Coconut oil reduces the itchiness, pain, flakiness, and dryness of eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.
  • Skin Irritations  – Ease the itch of poison ivy, poison oak, mosquito bites and other insect stings or bites, and encourage healing with dabs of coconut oil.
  • Sore Throat – Dissolve a spoonful in your mouth and let it slowly roll down the throat. This will coat and protect the throat, boost the health of mucus membranes, and fight any infection.
  • Stretch Marks – Prevent and soften stretch marks with coconut oil for soft and supple skin.
  • Stys/Pink Eye – Rub a small amount of coconut oil on the sty or around the eyes to get rid of these infections.
  • Sunburn – Coconut oil can help prevent sunburn for short exposures. When you are sunburned, applying coconut oil will speed healing and take some of the sting away. Wait 24 to 72 hours after the burn to allow the heat to dissipate rather than seal it in.
  • Toothaches – Coconut oil strengthens teeth and helps soothe painful toothaches. Adding a drop of clove oil can almost instantly relieve the pain.
  • Toothpaste – Mix one part coconut oil with one part baking soda and add a couple drops of peppermint oil. This makes a refreshing, natural toothpaste that whitens and cleans without added preservatives, fluoride, sweeteners, or other chemicals.
  • Urinary Tract – Treat urinary tract infections with a spoonful of coconut oil.
  • Warts and Moles – Rub oil into area and cover with a bandage. Rub in fresh oil and place a new bandage each day.
  • Wrinkles – Rub into lines, creases, and wrinkles to rehydrate skin and soften those wrinkles away.
  • Yeast Infections – Coconut oil fights these fungal infections internally and externally.

Horizon Zero Dawn Microreview

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Horizon Zero Dawn Microreview – 19/20!

Horizon Zero Dawn is an action role-playing video game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment.

Set in the distant future, the humans of earth have regressed to primitive tribal societies while large robotic creatures (whose characteristics are inspired by animals and dinosaurs we are familiar with) dominate the earth. These machines peacefully coexisted with humans until a phenomenon of unknown origin turned the existing machines aggressive towards humans and larger more dangerous species to appear. Armed with a variety of ranged weapons, a spear and other stealth tactics to combat humans and mechanized creatures, the player controls a young warrior named Aloy, as she sets out to discover the truth of her origin.

I love how refreshingly unique the plot of this game is; I don’t believe I’ve played anything quite like it. The gameplay mechanics are pretty standard, with favor to the stealthy (that’s me). I reduced the game’s score by one point due to my frustration with the music that plays on the menu screens. After awhile I found myself muting the television whenever I needed to spend any amount time on the menu screens, which are used often for buying (items cannot be bought in stacks), selling, crafting, leveling up, examining the quests, the map and so on. This is only a minor grievance though when you compare it to the enjoyability of the game as a whole.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

Welcome back Autumn!

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Welcome back Autumn! Every year I look forward to the Fall and the warmth it generates inside my home and soul. Where I live, September and October are still rather warm on some days, and turn wet and cold as the months progress toward Winter.  I cannot get enough of the rain this time of year. The cold, wet weather begins to take over outside, driving us all inside to be together and warm. There’s nothing like cuddling up with people you love, reading a good book, watching a movie or playing a video game while the weather misbehaves outside.

I intend to fully enjoy myself this season and invite you to join me. I will be doing a lot of cooking, crafting, book reading and game playing; among other things. Follow along and try some of these activities for yourself, this is a time we should all enjoy!

I intend on:

  • Decorating for Halloween.
  • Watching Halloween mood movies.
  • Assembling a Halloween costume.
  • Hosting a Halloween dinner party.
  • Carving pumpkins.
  • Roasting pumpkin seeds.
  • Making candy/caramel apples.
  • Cooking a dish for Thanksgiving.
  • Creating and sending Christmas cards.
  • Creating and hanging Christmas ornaments.
  • Decorating for Christmas.
  • Baking Christmas cookies/cake.
  • Watching Christmas mood movies/specials.
  • Visiting local Christmas festivals.
  • Visiting Christmas Disneyland.
  • Hosting a Christmas dinner party.
  • Baking Christmas Cookies.

There will be other activities I do, but these are the core basics I try to do every year.

Dear Esther Microreview

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Dear Esther Microreview – 15/20!

Dear Esther is a first-person artistic video game, developed and published by The Chinese Room.

The player explores an uninhabited Hebridean island, listening to a series of narratives addressed to a woman named Esther. These monologue fragments trigger at certain points around the island, and are chosen by the game semi-randomly. Of course this may present a problem as different playthroughs reveal slight differences in the story, with certain readings are played while others get omitted, and I personally have had no interested in replaying.

Although the narrator’s identity is not specified, evidence suggests he may be the late Esther’s husband. In his letters, the narrator refers to several other unseen characters. One is a cartographer named Donnelly, who charted the island in the past. Another character, Jakobson, was a shepherd who lived on the island in the eighteenth century. The narrator also refers to Paul, the drunk driver who caused the car accident that killed Esther. The identities of the narrator, Esther, Donnelly, Jakobson and Paul become more and more blurred as the game progresses, as the narration moves between topics and relates the characters in different ways. The random selection of voice-overs inspires ambiguity and forces the player to draw their own conclusions to the story.

The status of Dear Esther as a video game has been contested and indeed the game does not follow traditional video game conventions. The experience focuses on a story told through fragmented narrative as the player walks around an unnamed island with minimal to no interaction with the game’s environment; no choices need to be made, nor tasks to be completed.

I belive this is a video game. It’s unconventional, true, but it is a digital experience played by electronically manipulating images produced by a computer program. Mildly bizarre, but beautiful, Dear Esther is worth experiencing at least once for it’s artistic value. Therein lies the problem, because although the game has something to say, you would have to play it multiple times to catch the whole commentary and with such limited interaction with the game’s surroundings one could get bored and uninspired to play it again.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!

Apple Cider Vinegar for Health

AppleCiderVinegar copyThe more I use apple cider vinegar, the more i’m convinced it is one of those rare tinctures that can be used for all kinds of good in your life. I have known people who are able to drink or gargle with straight apple cider vinegar and I tip my hat to them, it is strong! I personally tried gargling with it undiluted for a sore throat and it stings! After the stinging went away my sore throat was gone, but I highly recommend diluting it with water and in some cases honey.

  • Acne – Wash your face morning and night with one part apple cider vinegar to two or three parts water to clear acne.
  • Bad Breath – Gargling or drinking one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in water will kill the odor-causing bacteria found within your mouth.
  • Dandruff – Mix ¼ cup apple cider vinegar with ¼ cup water in a spray bottle, and spritz on your scalp. Wrap your head in a towel and let the mixture sit for fifteen minutes to an hour, then wash your hair as usual. Do this twice a week for best results.
  • Diarrhea – Mix one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar into water and drink to soothe intestinal spasm.
  • Cholesterol – Drink half an ounce of apple cider vinegar (diluted in water if you prefer) on daily basis to lower cholesterol.
  • Headache – Mix ten grams of apple cider vinegar, ten grams of honey and dash of chamomile extract to create soothing balm for tension headaches.
  • Hiccups – Take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and it’s sour taste will stop hiccups immediately.
  • High Blood Pressure – Drink two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted into one average glass of water 1 to 3 times a day to lower blood pressure.
  • Indigestion – Mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey into warm water and drink it 30 minutes before eating to relieve indigestion.
  • Leg cramps – Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey into a glass of warm water and drink to boost your potassium levels and relieve leg cramps.
  • Sinus Congestion/Pain – Mix one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink to help sinus drainage.
  • Sore Throat – Gargle ¼ teaspoon of apple cider vinegar diluted with ¼ cup of warm water once every hour or so to remove germs.
  • Weight Loss – Start your day with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted into two glasses of water to suppress your appetite, reduce water retention and increase your metabolism.
  • Whiten Teeth – Gargling with diluted apple cider vinegar once a day can help remove stains, whiten teeth and kill harmful bacteria in your mouth and gums. Brush afterwards.

Gone Home Microreview

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Gone Home Microreview – 19/20!

Gone Home is a first-person interactive story adventure video game developed and published by Fullbright.

On the night of June 7th 1995, Kaitlin Greenbriar returns home to her parent’s mansion in Oregon after a year abroad. She’s greeted by a note on the front door from her sister Samantha asking her not to look for answers to where she is. As she enters the house, Kaitlin soon realizes no one is home, and she begins to investigate the house and it’s belongings to find where her family has gone.

The player assumes the role of Kaitlin in the first-person, guiding her through exploration of objects around the house, piecing together the story and gaining insight into her family and their experiences during the time she’s been away. Nostalgic memorabilia and themes from the nineties are prevalent, with some of my favorites like Super Nintendo cartridges and the X-Files, bringing back fond memories to those who, like myself, grew up during that time period. Additional clues can be found which explain the background of Kaitlin’s great uncle Oscar Masan, the previous owner of the house and target of social stigma within the community.

Though this game is based solely on exploration and discovery, with no threat to the player’s safety, I couldn’t help but feel the atmosphere was subtly ominous. Alone in a large old house in the middle of the night with a storm raging all around, I couldn’t help but feel a little anxious as I tiptoed around investigating. Some discoveries played with my imagination, leading me to believe sinister things may have happened or that there is or may be a presence in the house.

On the contrary, once I realized there was no real threat to Kaitlin’s safety, I was able to relax and enjoy this game for all it represents thematically and structurally. I was pleasantly surprised by the realism and family dynamics. Fullbright, a modest company of four persons, tastefully created one of the most ingenious storytelling games of our time through exploration, examination of objects and literary story elements. Interactive story adventures such as Gone Home are a quintessential genre for any gamer looking to relax and explore the elements and environment within a game without the menace of combat.

Comment below to start a conversation about this game!