Some travel tips you must know and some you probably already know.

Some of these things are a little redundant with travel packing list post.

Install the travel apps. I use TripIt, Hopper, and a bunch of different airline apps. I’ve been told that Synchronize, Currency, and Speak&Translate are also quite useful. I also have Uber and Lyft. Different places will have other taxi apps e.g. Grab Taxi is Singapore’s best taxi app. Just check and install them before you go. I can tell you that Uber works in France and Australia.

Download streaming content into your phone or tablet. Many places in the world now, including planes have wifi, but you’ll be surprised how many places don’t have them. I recommend if you’re using Netflix or whatever you’re using, download whatever your entertainment is just in case so you’re not too bored on a plane or airport or somewhere else.

Download offline maps. Google maps allows you to download offline maps of wherever you’re going onto your phone. Just in case you don’t have good service where you go, I recommend downloading the maps.

Find a good phone carrier. I think T-Mobile is probably the best carrier for travel considering the unlimited (slow) data in almost any country you go to. I also never need to change my number when visiting other countries. One trick my wife and I use is that we tether our phones to each other so that we can make regular phone calls for free while moving.

Carry a travel adapter. This is redundant with my travel packing list. Most plugs on airplanes are universal and European adapters tend to stay in much better than U.S prongs.

Drink lots of liquids on the airplane. It’s very easy to get dehydrated on planes. It’s tempting to drink alcohol when it’s free, but I don’t drink alcohol often on planes and wouldn’t suggest it. Staying hydrated might help get over jet lag as well.

Be careful with the local water. Talking about you staying hydrated, find out if the local water is drinkable. Even if the local water is drinkable, it may not taste good or it might be safe enough for locals, but not you. You might consider buying bottled water. You might also consider boiling the local water if you have a kettle in your hotel room. Sometimes, I drink boiled water when I run out of bottled water and the room’s mini bar is out.

Take down your hotel address. I love Google maps. Put your hotel address in your locations or favorites. Also take down the room number and put it in notes or something.

Beware of Free Public WIFI. You’re not sure who’s snooping on wifi. You might want to avoid using it or just using it for unimportant things like directions and stuff. You don’t know how safe it is. Consider using a VPN for surfing. It’ll slow you down, but might be more secure. I have lifetime subscriptions with VPNSecure.me and KeepSolid.

Subscribe to a VPN service. That’s one way to be able to view some of the content you’re used to watching at home, be it YouTube TV or something else.

Alert Your Bank and Credit Card Company of Your Travel Plans. This can help you avoid some embarrassment in some places. You don’t want to be on hold with your bank while far away.

Withdraw money from ATMs – Do not exchange currency at counters. Exchange currency counters, especially at airports are a total ripoff! I use ATMs at airports all the time though. First Republic bank reimburses all of my ATM fees and seems to give me the best rates.

Get a credit card without exchange / foreign transaction fees. Those exchange/foreign transaction fees could be quite expensive! There are plenty of credit cards out there now without the fees and that also give you some great travel rewards. Consider those. There might be an annual fee, but some annual fees are worth it. Some banks will waive or credit annual fees if you just spend some more money.

Spend money in their currency if your credit card does not have exchange fees. If they ask what currency you want to pay in, always pay in their currency if you have one of those no-fee credit cards. The rates are always better.

Use the hotel safe if possible. Prior to doing so though, check if the administrative code has been changed on the safe. You can find some videos on how to do that on YouTube, like in the one below.

Use the “Do Not Disturb” door hanger if there’s a physical one. Some now have a button for you to press so it may not make a difference. The reason I do is because first off, I don’t want to be disturbed when I’m in the room. Secondly, it’s easier for someone to think the room is there’s if all doors look alike. If yours has the door hanger, they’ll know the room isn’t there’s unless they used it also. The downside of this is that you will need to remove it if you want the room cleaned. Some hotels will give you more points if you don’t have the room cleaned. I don’t want people seeing my things so I often will leave the door hanger on the door and skip the cleaning service regardless of whether or not I get the additional points.

Have a backup! Keep some cash, identification (or copy of it), and a credit card with your luggage. Of course, keep some with you also.

Keep medication/contacts/toiletries on you! If you take any regular medication, always keep some in your carry-on, backpack, purse, or whatever you carry with you in case your luggage is lost. A set of extra contact lenses would help as well. A comb, toothpaste and toothbrush can come in handy in airport/airplane bathrooms. Some airlines are nice enough to provide you these things. Others may only do it in first class. I also like to have earplugs that I sometimes put under my headset.

Bring Clothes, just in case – Hopefully, you’ll never have to deal with lost luggage, but it never hurts to be prepared. I usually keep a shirt, pair of socks, and underwear in a ziplock bag in my backpack just in case.

Use your downtime. You can check into your hotel room well in advance nowadays with most hotels. I usually have Uber open immediately after landing. If you’re traveling for business, you can do your expense reports while waiting for a flight or in an Uber back to the hotel. It beats having to look for all of your receipts. I usually snap a photo immediately after getting it and just throw it away.

Carry a water filter bottle. I often bring my Brita bottle. If you’re not drinking bottled water, you can boil water and drink it as is. I like to use the Brita bottle because I always feel it makes my water taste a little better. Also with a straw, I drink way more water for some reason.

Keep some hand sanitizer with you! Considering that there are germs everywhere and that there’s a nasty Coronavirus around, carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer and spray it or rub some regularly. I dry out my hands every once in a while, but I fear getting sick on a trip more than anything!

Steal hotel laundry bags – for division of clean and dirty clothes, they come pretty handy. If I didn’t use some clothes, I just leave them in the bottom of the suitcase and then just use the bag on top of it and throw the dirty clothes on top of that. That way, when you get home, you could just throw the dirty clothes right into the washer and put the clean clothes away.

Steal the hotel shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc, but only if it’s good quality and you’re going to multiple cities. You never know if the hotel in the next city will have comparable ones unless you’re staying at the same hotels all the time.

What are your tips? Please share in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

My travel packing checklist

I wrote this list mainly for myself, but thought maybe others could benefit from this. No matter how much experience you have traveling, I think you’ll always run into something you forget. Hopefully this list can help you minimize those things and allow you to enjoy your trip more rather than you needing to get out and get something because of an emergency.

Medicine – obvious #1 on my list. It’s not always easy to get medications, especially in foreign countries. Bring the ones you need – anything that you’re prescribed. For me, luckily, I don’t take any prescription medicines except for Montelukast (Singulair) if I have an allergy. I guess you can’t predict allergies. For that reason, I carry Loratadine (Claritin) as well. At my last doctor’s visit, he asked me to try Zyrtec instead of the combination of the two, so I will do that next time. Aside from the allergy medications, I would recommend some of the common ones. These include Tylenol or Ibuprofen, NyQuil, etc. If you need pills for motion sickness, sleep aid, caffeine, etc., you probably want to bring some of those as well. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to buy medications abroad. Some over the counter medications in the US are not sold over the counter in other countries. I was shocked to hear that Ibuprofen was considered a strong medication in another country. I also carry stomach medication just in case I eat something bad. I use the Japanese one pictured below. If you have asthma, even if you haven’t had an attack in a long time, be sure to keep an inhaler and if you use a nasal rinse, you might want to bring a bottle and some salt packets. I usually just mix mine with cold bottled water, but most hotels have water kettles to boil water.

Glasses/contacts – I recommend having an extra set of each just in case. What can you do if you can’t see?

Toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, maybe a small bottle of mouthwash. Unless you’re staying in Asia, your hotel will not likely have these available for you. They may have some available for sale, but I like to carry my own.

Charging cables – you don’t want to be desperate without a cable. Do whatever you can to avoid paying the tourist price for a crappy cable. In Las Vegas, they were trying to sell generic iPhone cables for $40! Bring your own cable. I like Anker cables, but will carry super cheap cables I get off Amazon as spares as I lose cables pretty often. I also have couple of cables that charge both, my watch and phone.

Nail clipper – I cut my nails almost every week and I’ve bought countless nail clippers abroad. I think it’s good to keep one with you just in case.

Shaving Razors – I’ve also bought many of these abroad. If you’re staying in Asia, most hotels will probably provide you some disposable ones. I would recommend that you have at least one set with you.

Noise-cancelling Headphones – Bose QC35II – I don’t travel without them. I turn them on while I’m on a plane even if I’m not listening to anything just to cancel out the noise. Like a friend said, “They’re expensive, but they’re worth it.”

Humidifier – I keep a little mini humidifier with me when I travel because hotels don’t usually have them. This one works great for me.

Travel power adapter – I keep one of these even if I’m traveling domestically. I recommend you get one of those that has usb charging. I use mine for a night light and usb charging. Additionally, most plugs on airplanes are universal and they tend to stay in much better than standard U.S prongs. The one I use is this one.

Shoes/Slippers – If I’m traveling for work, I always keep a pair of sneakers in the luggage or the dress shoes in the luggage if I’m not heading for business the same day. Always have a set of sneakers or slippers just to be comfortable. I might also bring a pair of flip flops if I plan on swimming.

Extra underwear/socks – I always bring a couple of extra just in case there’s a flight delay or you get dirty for some reason, etc.

Workout clothes/Bathing suit – if you know that where you’re going will have a gym/pool, you should bring a set even if you don’t think you’ll have time to use the facilities. Many times, I’ve gone and been up at 5 am wondering what I should do. The gym is a great way to help you get over jet-lag.

WiFi hotspot – I have one of these so that I can share WiFi among my multiple devices – laptop/iPhone/iPad, but it’s becoming less and less necessary. United airplanes allow you to switch devices as you wish.

First aid kit – if you’re going to be outdoors and not staying at a nice hotel, bringing a first-aid kid with you. Your first aid kit should have things like alcohol, Neosporin, itch cream, bandages, etc.

Portable battery – I don’t usually need/use it, but I carry a portable battery with me most of the time just in case. If you get one, get one that can charge with multiple interfaces – micro-USB and iPhone if you can find it. I use this one. It’s a bit heavy, but it has a high capacity and it charges very quickly.

Laundry detergent – I’m pretty cheap, so I almost never use the hotel laundry service. If I’m staying for more than a week or so, I would look for a laundromat and do the laundry myself if laundry machines are not available in the hotel. If they are, all the better. For this reason, I usually keep a couple of detergent pods in my suitcase as well.

Hope this helps! Please tell me about some of the things you pack in the comments. 🙂

Make your own pizza at home!

I thought about it a little bit, but not a lot. A friend of mine that used to work at a pizza place told me that your home oven is just not hot enough. That’s not exactly true. I started to do it only because a different friend of mine did it first. He made it and his pizza to me, tasted like pizza that you would get in an elementary school cafeteria. Well, I thought maybe I could do better. Since we are in a lock-down anyway, I thought I would give it a shot. I’m very glad that I did. It’s very easy and well worth it.

I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and since I have a cast iron pan and no pizza stone, I started with that. My pizza dough has about 50% hydration.

The dough recipe is as follows:
1 cup bread flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

I just take a spoon or fork or spatula or chopstick or whatever I have close by and mix it. Mix it until it comes together and you see no more water and you can either knead it or just leave it. Then you let it sit for 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If you’re in a hurry, you can proof it in the oven by turning the oven on to the lowest temperature possible (mine is 150F) and then opening the door. Leave the door open for a couple of minutes so that the temperature comes down to under 100F. Then, quickly setting it next to a cup of boiling hot water and shutting the door. (Don’t let the water touch the dough.) When the dough doubles in size, it’s ready to be stretched out and go into the pan. I’ll salt and put some Italian seasoning on the pan just prior to putting the dough into the pan because I want to get some flavor on the bottom of the pizza. If you’re lazy like me, you can just drop the ball into the pan and stretch/flatten it out there. If the dough pulls back too much, just leave it and let it sit for about 5 minutes and try again.

I don’t have any portion sizing for the sauce/toppings. All I can say is don’t put too much. From one of the YouTube videos I watched, the guy says, if it feels like it’s just short, it’s probably perfect.

I’ve used this recipe for my sauce:
8 tomatoes
5-6 basil leaves
garlic salt/pepper
a couple of garlic cloves
a little bit of Parmesan cheese

Then you can basically just cook the sauce out until it’s reduced to very little water. I might’ve put too much Parmesan – the sauce came out orange, but tasted fine. I cooked it along with the mushrooms also so that the mushrooms wouldn’t release too much water into the pizza.

In the picture, I’m using store bought Classico pizza sauce. Just take a ladle of store bought pizza sauce or the sauce you made and spoon it around the dough on the pan. When you feel like you’re just short, it’s probably enough. Don’t put too much or the dough will stay wet. If you would prefer the dough to be dry, you can put a layer of cheese down on top of the dough first. You might get a wetter pizza though. Then just lay the toppings on. I don’t buy shredded cheese, ever. I’m not a fan of the anti-caking agents that they come with and it also goes bad very quickly. I prefer to buy blocks of my own cheese and grate or slice or cut it myself. In the picture, I’ve sliced my cheese thinly and layered on top and the bottom. I mix mozzarella and parmesan. You can see raw mushrooms in the picture, but I won’t put raw mushrooms on a picture anymore. I’ll just par-cooked if not cooked because mushrooms release too much water. I would recommend cooking any vegetables prior to putting them onto the pizza just to release the water.

When you’re done topping the pizza, fire up the stove onto medium high heat and let it cook for about 5 minutes or so. Then put it into the broiler at low heat for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. I then go and check the bottom of the pizza with the spatula and adjust the heat until I see the desired color. For me, it’s golden brown.

This is what the pizza looked like before baking.
This is what the pizza looked like after baking.

Enjoy your pizza! I’d love any feedback! Questions or comments welcome.

Love and breakup and love again

Here are a couple of videos that I find profound and very interesting. Unsurprisingly, they’re videos from a couple of my favorite Chinese actresses.

The first one is with Li Yitong 李一桐. I’ve been a fan of hers since seeing her in The Legend of the Condor Heroes. http://www.iqiyi.com/lib/m_208895914.html. In this video, she does a great narrative about breakup. Please watch the video if you could. The gist of it is that you should enjoy what you have. While you’re enjoying it however, you might be too busy enjoying it that you’re not spending the time to cherish it. You also don’t think you’ll ever lose it. Over time, things change and people drift apart. For her, he had known all of her weaknesses, all but one. Her biggest fear however was knowing one day that she wasn’t able to marry the guy. Well, she’s gotten used to not having him. Moving on, she wishes him well, thanks him for the memories and thanks him for allowing her to love her. Basically, be grateful. How profound!

With Athena, this was a quick replay of A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora’s Box 西遊記第壹佰零壹回之月光寶盒, a film that I’ve seen a couple of times and undoubtedly will watch at least couple more. Also about love – interesting that she says that if you’re not in a loving relationship, leave. There’s someone else out there that’s waiting for you. I certainly hope that’s true. I don’t know if it is, but I do think it’s a beautiful story.

Sorry there are no English subtitles. If you have a link with some, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the link.

Binge watching the Condor Trilogy series

Thanks to the Corona virus, the people of San Francisco have been sheltered in. One of the things that I’ve enjoyed doing is watching the Condor Trilogy 射鵰三部曲 series. I got the idea of doing this because of nostalgia. I always enjoyed wuxia as a kid. I don’t know which I watched first – Bruce Lee or Chinese kung fu movies. For that reason, I didn’t even think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was that awesome when it first came out – thought it was just like another Chinese kung fu movie. Hero though, the film with Jet Li and Donnie Yen, was really awesome! I watched the The Return of the Condor Heroes 神鵰俠侶when I was a kid. My late aunt graciously recorded it for me and I watched while being babysat at my great-grandmother’s house. Only upon watching it for the 3rd time, this time in order without missing any episodes and with subtitles, did I really know how much of the story I missed and how poor my Cantonese is.

When I was a kid, I only cared to see the kungfu action. At least that’s what I thought I cared for. Having watched it very recently, I still enjoyed the kung fu action, but also really enjoyed the story. I also enjoyed seeing the lots of beautiful women cast in the series. It’s almost like watching the UFC actually. Which guy doesn’t like watching violence mixed with beautiful women? With the UFC or boxing, you have ring card girls. I know the movies aren’t real fighting. It’s more of a dance than a fight scene. If I want to watch real fighting, I’ll watch the UFC. That said, this is a series that has a remake every decade. Jin Yong wrote some masterpieces. There’s no other reason they would do a remake every 5-10 years.

So I spent about 30 hours watching the 1983 version of 神鵰俠侶 with Andy Lau and Idy Chan. I enjoyed the series a lot. Andy Lau plays brilliantly and Idy Chan is a goddess. Among them were many other talented and beautiful stars as well. I knew I had to watch it from from the beginning to the end to really understand the film. The moment I started watching the series, I started to notice that I needed to keep track of the characters so that I wouldn’t get lost in remember who was who. I ended up using wikipedia as Cliffs notes. I wish I had known about the fandom link at the time. I would’ve used it as well. I’m not the best at remembering Chinese names. I did my best, but also sadly couldn’t resist reading and finding out what happened prior to seeing it actually happen. It was still entertaining and exciting to see how the directors set up the scenes and how they were executed.

There’s a video below that talks about how they shouldn’t make these series because the ratings seem to be getting lower and lower. I might agree perhaps for the older series e.g. the 1990s and 2008, but would wholeheartedly disagree for the 2017/2019 versions. Also, the guy makes his argument based off of ratings. Well, ratings are based on the time and what was available at the time. If you watch the 1983 神鵰俠侶, you’ll see that the Jinlun Guoshi is wearing a wig that doesn’t match his skin color. You would also see that in a lot of scenes, the backdrops are terrible – totally obvious that it’s done on a set.


Think about it. Why would anyone in their right mind create a remake of a series, spend a shitload of money, and make a series that’s worse than the original? Nobody would. Nobody would invest. Nobody would play the parts. Unless they’re just milking the cow – if they already own something and just want to get as much money out of it as possible before it dies. I don’t think that’s the case with these series. You should expect that every series is better than the next. There are many reasons for that. If a series was successful, people usually would like to replicate that success somehow. With better technology and a bigger budget, they can often produce a better product as well. For example, back in 1984, the best they could do to simulate 小龍女 XiaoLongNu’s bees was to make little lights flash on screen. Technology has gone a long way since then.

At the end of the series, I had a decision to make. Did I want to see the prequel and sequels? Well, it was a resounding yes. Jin Yong can really tell a story! I had no doubt that I wanted to see the other 2 parts of the series. That said, there are about 3-4 different versions I could choose from. My first thought was to try the Amazon prime version. I watched 1 episode of the Legend of the Condor Heroes there and decided immediately that it wasn’t for me. My issue was that the English subtitles get superimposed over the Chinese subtitles and made it hard to read. Another issue was that I think they went overboard with the special effects and computer generated imagery. I guess you’ll never know how far you can go until you have crossed the line. I feel that the 2008 version did just that. I then watched 1 episode of the 2017 version and felt good with it. I’m glad I did.

李一桐 Li Yitong plays Huang Rong 黃蓉, one of the main characters in the Legend of the Condor Heroes. She won 2 well-deserved awards for her performance. I absolutely fell in love with her character. I was looking forward to her character to come on the entire time. She was super cute, witty, intelligent, the whole package. In an interview, they asked her if she had watched the previous drama series. I’m glad she didn’t. That’s not to say that her predecessors didn’t do a good job. The late Barbara Yung Mei-ling 翁美玲 and Athena Chu Yan 朱茵 are also fantastic in their respective versions of the series. I can’t pick a favorite because I’ve always been a huge fan of Athena Chu’s since her performance in A Chinese Odyssey. I’ve now also become a huge fan of 李一桐 Li Yitong!
The beautiful Athena Chu in the 1994 version of The Legend of the Condor Heroes.
Viola Mi 米露 plays a fantastic and underrated Mei Chao Feng 梅超風. Doesn’t she look like she came out of a comic book? Viola, clearly very attractive, looks fantastic as a goth villain. She plays the role of a blind woman pretty convincingly and I believe this is the best version of her costume as well. She switches from a master villain role to a subservient role well when the master Huang Yaoshi 黃藥師 shows up.
I haven’t seen a better version of the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan 江南七怪. These guys were not in the series that much, but at least you see the different characteristics of the different characters. In the 1983 version, apart from the leader Ke Zhen’e 柯鎮惡, it’s hard to tell one from the other.
陈星旭 Chen Xingxu looks totally innocent, doesn’t he? He plays a pretty good bad guy, 楊康 Yang Kang, switching to being a bro of Guo Jing. Heard from an interview that he was nervous about the role because the guy that played Huang Yaoshi played his role in 1983. Frankly, I think Chen did a better job, but Michael Miu 苗僑偉 played a very good Huang Yaoshi.
Meng Ziyi 孟子义 sure is beautiful, isn’t she? She plays 穆念慈 Mu Nianci. Internet says she had some plastic surgery.

After watching the The Legend of the Condor Heroes, I proceeded with watching Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber. I figured I would go with the 2019 version since it was the latest and it didn’t disappoint. This is available on Amazon Prime video as well, but unfortunately only in Cantonese. Since the movie was filmed in Mandarin and I always prefer to see lips in sync, I opted to watch in Mandarin.

Chen Yuqi 陈钰琪 or Yukee Chen has also earned a fan in me. Her acting was superb and she earned 2 well-deserved awards for her performance as Zhao Min, the Mongolia princess.
See the source image

Bambi Zhu Xudan 祝绪丹 is gorgeous, isn’t she? She plays Zhou Zhiruo, a beautiful, sweet, and innocent woman. Does she look like she could kill anyone!? Well, she played a very convincing role when switching over and also deserved the 2 awards she won for her performance.

No way! You’re a total catch!
Watch a comparison of scenes here. I think it’s pretty clear that the remakes are better.
Here’s another comparison video.

I do have one complaint about the casting. There’s no shortage of talent in Hong Kong or China. Why do they reuse the same actors for different parts? The only reasons I can think of are budget or directors wanting to work with the same people. Here are some examples of some that look the same. There are more, but since the series are over a decade apart, the actors no longer look the same and they played the parts well. Kathy Chow Hoi-mei 周海媚 played Zhou Zhiruo in the 1994 Legend of the Condor Heroes series and played an awesome evil Abbess Miejue in the 2019 Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Saber. Michael Miu played Yang Kang in the 1983 series and Huang Yaoshi in the 2017 Legend of the Condor Heroes series.

The same guy plays one of the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan in the 1980s version of the Legend of the Condor Heroes and then plays the 公孫止 character in the Passionless Valley.
The beautiful Li Zeng 曾黎 appears in both, The Legend of the Condor Heroes and Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber. I guess she commits suicide as Guo Jing’s mother 李萍 and then reincarnates as the Poison Goddess 王難姑 over 100 years later. I don’t mind seeing more of her by the way! She’s stunning!
Li Zeng in The Legend of the Condor Heroes. In my dreams, she’s married to me!
Ning Wentong plays 周伯通 in the Legend of the Condor Heroes and then plays 胡青牛in Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber.

Normally, when watching any drama series, after the whole thing, I feel like I’d wasted my time. After all, it is many hours of my life. After Breaking Bad, arguably one of the most successful series of all time, I felt like I had wasted many hours of my life and wish I hadn’t seen it. I felt the same after watching the IP Man tv series. The Donnie Yen movies were great. The series, not so much. I also watched many episodes of Boardwalk Empire – perhaps 1-2 seasons. At some point, I feel like it’s never going to end and I quit. This is one of the few series that I cannot seem to get enough of. Eventually, I may read the books, but now, I’m content with watching what I can on tv or YouTube and reading on wikipedia and fandom. The reason I feel that I could be critical about the different versions is because I actually went through the different ones that I’ve talked about and found my favorite scenes and watched them in the various versions. You can find almost all of them on Youtube.

If you do watch this series however, don’t watch it in the order that I watched it in, unless you want to know what happens later. It is a little fun to know how the characters already progressed, but I think it’s better to watch them in order. 🙂 Start with The Legend of the Condor Heroes 射鵰英雄傳, move on to The Return of the Condor Heroes 神鵰俠侶 and finish with The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber 倚天屠龍記.

I can’t wait to see the New Return of the Condor Heroes starring 佟梦实 Thomas Tong and 毛晓慧 Mao Xiaohui.

Thanks for reading and please leave some comments below.

Making Bob’s Red mill pancakes palatable

I normally love Bob’s red mill products. I enjoy their organic soy beans, organic oatmeal, flax seeds, beans, you name it. That said, their multigrain pancake and waffle mix is just plain disgusting. I’ve followed their instructions on the package and it just comes out gross. Both, the pancakes and the waffles.

If you got some however, please don’t throw them out. Here’s how to make them taste better. I was watching an episode of Diner Revival where Amanda Freitag show someone how to make a gluten free pancake and used a banana. That inspired me to give it a shot and it worked well! When following instructions, add a banana to the mix before putting them in the blender.

It’ll add just the texture you want. They’ll taste almost like regular pancakes. Of course, add maple syrup or honey to your liking. 🙂

Maximize your Marriott points!

Sign up for the new credit card and get 80,000 points. (I’ll get 20,000 if you use my link.) 🙂 https://t.co/clpVkadt3B It’s well worth it. It does cost an annual fee of $85, but the 80k points will get you 2-3 nights. I think the one night per year covers the $85 annual fee. 🙂

I started using Marriott early on only because I had stayed at Courtyards multiple times for work. I’ve started to take a liking to Marriott and their bonus system. With the Marriott card, you can get 5 points per dollar spent at Marriotts, which is awesome! You get free rooms pretty quickly that way and also get lounge access pretty quickly as well.

If you’re not a member and happen to just be staying at a Marriott, I would say to sign up! The points do expire (I think after 18 months), but you can keep them pretty easily just by continuing to accrue. There are a few ways to accrue them without staying at Marriotts. One of the ways is to sign up for the credit card. Better yet, use my link above! 🙂 Another way is to shop to keep them! https://marriott.rewards.com There, just click through the site and buy anything and they’ll credit you Marriott points. That way, you’re accruing as you spend money. Something I wish I had done during the holiday season. I could’ve had at least one additional point for every dollar I spent! I’ll write another posting on maximizing your shopping points sometime soon.

One last point is to try to stay loyal to one particular brand i.e. if you’re flying United, only fly United. If you’re flying American, only fly American – it’s much easier to accrue points that way and be able to use them. If you’re staying at Marriotts and collecting Marriott points, you won’t get anything by staying at a Hilton. You will get some credit for staying at an SPG though! I’ve already linked my 2 accounts, but haven’t transferred any points yet.

Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have any other/better ideas!

asinine espn bar management

Hmmm … So, we went to the ESPN bar on the Boardwalk Disney in Orlando and expect just some typical bar food and a drink before going home and back to bed just after midnight last Thursday evening and we got probably the worst service ever.

The greeting we got something to the tune of there is no food service. You can only order drinks. At first, we were thinking about just leaving, but then decided what the heck. We might as well. So, one guy asks what some of the beers were. The waiter says, “it’s a beer”. He couldn’t give a better description for any of the beers! One guy orders a Jamison neat (no water, no ice). What’s is that? Shouldn’t you know if you’re a waiter? Oh well. No big deal.

I order the “Zone” drink, but asked for a shot of rum in in. I got the drink without rum in it. The person next to me ordered a milk shake. She got a drink with cream and shaved ice. Another guy ordered 2 drinks. He ordered the Zone and a beer. When he asked what kind of beers they were (menu just had names on it), the waiter responded with something like “it’s a beer.” When the drinks came, he just got the beer. When he asked for the waiter to get his other drink, the waiter said, “no, you didn’t [order the 2 drinks]” and he added that he couldn’t go back because the bar was closed and that the bartender was pissed that he even took the order.

When the check came, I was charged 6.50 for the rum. We called the waiter back and told him this and told him that there wasn’t rum and that he could taste it if he wanted to. He declined to taste it. He then brought his manager. The manager then argues with me and says that the recipe called for rum. The drink was special order – it wasn’t even on the menu! How could they have a recipe!?

The waiter said i should’ve told him there was a problem with my drink before the check came, but the bar was closed immediately after drinks were served! What was he going to do? Go back to the bar!? He told us that he couldn’t do that!

Later, the manager said that he was willing to take the drink off, but that we couldn’t tell him that he didn’t make the drink right while neither of them were willing to taste the drink.

They just took off the $6.50. They didn’t take off the whole drink like they said. They also charged an 18% gratuity as well!

So atop of that, we had to pay a very undeserved 18%!

Acura vs. Lexus … just to get a quote …

I ask the acura guy …
how much for the car
he writes back …

Special Financing available for all 2008 Acura TL’s in stock for .9% for 36 months and 2.9% for 60 months on approval of credit.

2008 TL Navi for $30,000+ Tax + Licensing Fees (MSRP $36,940).

idiot from lexus …
Catherine: i’m thinking of getting a used bmw
Because there are so much variation in equipment options, in order to put together most aggressive and accurate price possible, I was wondering if you could either send an email or give me a phone call with options you want on your new vehicle.  I will be calling you soon and/or emailing you. To contact me you can call me directly at (650)994-2255. I look forward to serving you.
then …
I copy acura’s quote
and say I want something similar
he writes back …

If you compare to the price, for sure Acura is cheaper, but I want you to understand the more you pay, more you get. Lexus use the finest material to build our cars, so you can find that vehicle dependability report we’re always No.1, our vehicle will be much more luxury than a acura, engine much smooth and quite. Is all your decision, acura is a nice car too, if you want something more budget, I think is a good choice. If you want to get the finest and luxury vehicle, Lexus is your choice!
my response …
I don’t want to come in and look first. I’m not only considering price. I’ll test drive the two after I get a quote.

According to this: http://www.newcars.com/lexus/es350/reviews/acura-tl.html

The prices should be comparable.
he comes back with … what equipment that you interested to have it in the ES350?
I was like … what the hell!
finally! he goes …

If you want navigation this is the package you will get for 2008:
P             Z1             Trunk Mat, Cargo Net and Wheel Locks
F             BE             Rear Seat Side Airbags                               F             HH             Heated and Ventilated Front Seats                               F             NV             Navigation System Includes:                               F             PM             Premium Package Includes:

MSRP: $39615 + fees, and you can have it for $34423 + fees, color is limited for 2008.Please let me know when is the better time for you to come! Thanks
and of course, I come back with what I forgot …

Ok. Which colors are available and do you have any special financing like Acura does?

it took 4 emails from lexus what it took 1 from acura!

The Next Food Network Star Season 4

After the last episode, a few of my picks are gone – Kevin Roberts and Nipa Bhatt– both of whom I thought had a chance are out of the competition. Aaron McCargo Jr.… eh … maybe. He’s hit and miss. Sometimes, he can have some showmanship, but I think he’s a better cook than a TV star. I think the most complete package still is with Kelsey Nixon. I’ll be very surprised if she’s eliminated anytime before the final two. I wanted to say final four, but we’re almost already there!