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Sun Dragon by Ohm Beads – Review, Pictures Galore, and Composition Ideas

Preface
I’m being an ass again, reviewing something that is sold out… but should you find it second hand at a non-jacked price, you really should seriously consider getting it. This review here is to provide insight that’ll hopefully guide your decision making process.

20170808_154542

This is the Ohm Beads Bead of the Month for August of 2017 in commemoration of the solar eclipse that will be taking place on the 21st which is, conicidentally, the day I start the fall semester of my M.S. program, and the day my life as I know it will cease to exist. (Similar to how if the sun was devoured and the Earth cast into darkness, life would cease to exist.) Kidding. It’s not that bad because we’re only going to be in three days of classes (rather than five) with one day of fieldwork. But we have been warned that fieldwork will be quite… intense.

Anyways, where was I? Oh right. Eclipse. I don’t care about that. I mean, I do REALLY want to view the total eclipse if I can swing it (ditch class maybe?) but my train of thought in getting it went more like, “I see pretty dragon. I want pretty dragon. ” Plus, it’s shiny. *cue Moana song*

The Bead
It’s obviously East Asian inspired in design with the boxy head with “antlers”, fathered tail, and lack of wings . Just about every other dragon design I’ve seen has been goofy looking, or the dragon has been given a bird-like head. No, just… no. This little guy was handsome and beautifully detailed so I “had” to have it.

 

I’d call this a charm rather than a bead. Being made of solid sterling silver, it’s pretty weighty despite the delicate, sinewy appearance. It’s a good size that will get noticed, but it is still small enough that it doesn’t take over a bracelet. it doesn’t HAVE be the focal point of a composition (as i will demo on a few bracelets later in this post.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2017 in On the Fence, Pretty, Shiny Things

 

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On Studying for a Neuroscience Final

“This is fun! Because now your brain can freak out about itself!”

 – P. Harding, 2017


 

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in Short Humor

 

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Mariscos Los Compadres – Seafood (& Mexican Food) Delight in Dinuba, California 

Mariscos Los Compadres – Seafood (& Mexican Food) Delight in Dinuba, California 

Preface
Talk about a surprise. During a roadtrip to the Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, my family stayed in the city of Dinuba. We were originally going to eat at a place called Safari but jumped ship at the last minute to Mariscos across the street because we were intrigued by the sizable line outside.

So glad we did.  Until I looked at the menu:

  • First thought: fuuuuccck It’s all in Spanish
  • Second thought: Well, it must be legit. That and the fact that the venue is a de-wheeled food truck in a gated patio with picnic tables.
  • Third thought: FML why’d we do AP Chinese instead of Spanish Q.Q

Luckily there are various applications out there than can provide translation of text in a picture but a lady in line helped us out with figuring out what stuff was.

Ordering was not a problem as the lady at the window was fluent in English, in case you were wondering.

The Food & The Commentary

  • Tostada Ceviche Pescado ($4.00) – Fish Ceviche with a packet of Los Pericos Toastadas. Fucking delicious. I could have eaten the toastadas all day by themselves but the ceviche itself was also (of course) fantastic. The fish pieces were a little too small for my liking as they weren’t substantial enough to really sink your teeth into but the texture was great. also perfect salinity and acidity.  I totally would have sprung for another order of the version with both fish and shrimp if I still had room at the end.

Ceviche de Pescado (Fish) after I inhaled some and remembered to take a picture.

The tostadas. Yummy

  • Torta Asada ($5.20)  – pretty good. Bread was very nice, fluffy but had substance once you mash it in your mouth.  The little chnks of meat were just chewy enough to have some texture to be fun, but yielded easily with a few firms chews. I’ve got no complaints and would highly recommend. easily sharable between two people for a lunch or heavier snack. would make a very filling meal for one person
  • Wet Burrito w/ Beef Tongue ($7.50) – rice was great, beans were pretty darn good. beef tongue was okay,. could have had more of the beefy flavor that usually smacks you over the head, which is one of the primary reasons I love tongue so much. Could have done with a little more acidity, perfect salinity though.
  • Ostiones Estill ($28) – raw oysters on the half shell. We opted to get it “fully loaded” (as explained by the girl taking our order) with fish and shrimp ceviche. Fml, that shrimp was SO excellent. Great taste and fantastic texture, and I normally don’t even like shrimp here in the States! Luckily they were pretty generous with it. We got this item for the oysters and enjoyed the shit out of it due to the shrimp. Not that the oysters weren’t good. They were a little on the smaller side like Kumamoto’s in size despite the expected size belied by the shell. Succulent, fatty, lightly sweet, completely clean, and super fresh. I happily slurped up the remaining “soup”.
    • Luckily you can just get a serving of shrimp crevice for only a little more than just the fish civeche if you don’t want to spend so much but this is really worth a try. This was a total splurge but we had had two days of cup ramen and hot dogs leading up to it…

Money shot. The oyster is buried somewhere under that shrimp and fish ceviche.

Look at this glorious mess. Look at those beautiful limes.

 

General Notes

One order of ostiones estilo, two orders of ceviche pescado toastada, one asada tortas and two orders of wet burrito with beef tongue fed a famished family of 4 (that had eaten breakfast at 6AM and skipped lunch) with half a burrito and 10 toastadas to spare (we had two orders of ceviche, but only ate one tostada packet leaving the other one).

The accompanying limes were excellent and aesthetically pleasing to boot.

Flavor here is pretty balanced between being tasty and more than tolerable for “light eaters” (that is you are used to a blade palater from wooing with only a fraction of the recommended salt and seasoning). Nothing was “too much” for us and that’s why I keep mentioning salt, because that was really important. Additionally, the leftover ceviche “soup” at the bottom of the container after we had consumed all the solid contents was a delight to drink. Not too sour, salty, spicy or anything. IMO, it was extremely well balanced. No one ingredient overwhelmed the others. Keep in mind, my family tends to eat much lighter, on the heavily reduced sodium side. Because we TRY to be healthy.

If you choose to eat on the picnic tables instead of doing take out there is a nice selection of tasty hot sauces though two of them have…. questionably vivid coloring

Marcos Los Compadres uses sweet purple onions. the kind that don’t sting and linger forever in your mouth afterwards like regular white onions.

Sodas and drinks were $2 each whether you opted for regular coke, Mexican coke in the glass bottle, Jarritos, Raspberry Ice Tea, etc

Street parking is easy, and right in front of the white gate and fence that surround the eatery and the picnic tables.

Menu (see end of post for a pic of it in full) is in Spanish, but ordering can be done English.

Cash only

Oyster (minus shrimps) in foreground. Ceviche de Pescado in background


Closing Thoughts 

The meal overall felt very light, like it was supposed to be healthy, despite the fact that we stuffed ourselves silly.

A dozen fresh oysters at Safari would have only been 15.99 but the extra $$ for the shrimp and ceviche that topped the ostiones estilo was well worth it.

I never would have expected to find such good seafood so far inland in a small town.

Definitely give this place a try
and have Google translate at the ready.

And damn, that Lime Jarritos was good. I’ve only had the tamarind and orange flavors up until now.

Here’s a shitty shot of the menu.

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2017 in Eats Reviews, Mexican

 

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Wanna Know How To Improve Your Tuna Salad?

So my sister made some tuna salad dinner. Here’s the conversation that went down at the dinner table:

Sis: How is it how is it howizzit?
Me: Pretty good, but needs some more acid.
Sis: Here, I’ll throw up what I already ate.
Me: Are you saying that your cooking is literally so bad that even vomit would make it taste better?

 

It doesn’t help that tuna salad is already a kinda chunky-looking, nondescript, beige mush. I was thinking lemon juice when I said add some acid but her mind jumped straight to stomach acid.  I think someone was AP Bio-ing too hard.

But really, if what you make tastes like it’s missing a little something-something try a tiny amount of an acidic component, or throw some more salt in there.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2017 in Short Humor

 

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First Try at “Sushi” From Scratch: Notes for the Future

Disclaimer: I have previously taken one sushi making class, but this is my first time attempting it at home from scratch. The most important takeaway (more like the only one I remember, lol) from that class was “keep your hands moist so the stupid rice doesn’t stick!”

This set “only” took a small blood sacrifice and 2.5 hours of my time to make from start (washing the rice) to this… attempt at plating. >_> Don’t give me shit about the tray. Let’s just call it traditional? Because vermillion is a traditional Japanese color. Do I at least get a point for making it semi presentable?

  • Back Row: Gunkanmaki with (fail) salmon roses  on top of a bed of to tobiko (flying fish roe) and slivers of green onion for garnish
  • 3rd Row: Makizushi with salmon and tobiko
  • 2nd Row: Gunkanmaki with battered, pan-fried spam, toasted white sesame seeds,  tobiko and green onions again; + slice of the salmon maki roll that wouldn’t fit in the 3rd Row
  • 1st Row: Pigs in a blanket.  (Egg fried spam + green onion + a finger of rice. spam IS mostly pork, AKA pig)
  • Right: Salted, seared beef tongue makizushi with, guess what!!!!! Green onions and toasted white sesame  seeds

The takeaway? I like green onion and it grows very well in my backyard so I spam it  in my “cooking”. :3 I was trying to keep things simple by reusing only a limited number of ingredients. The most expensive thing in here is not the salmon, but the flippin beef tongue. The presliced stuff rivals gold, price per once (not really). However my sister looooves that stuff, tongue not gold, and this was for her birthday dinner since we were too busy to go out. Plus I’m really fond of it too.

My first roll (as represented by that lone slice piece  in row 2 was waaaay off in terms of rice ratio seeing as the filling wasn’t centered. However, I mostly got it down and was decently pleased with myself by the last roll (see the left beef tongue cross slice). I do not have a mat and this set was made without one so it is definitely possible to make sushi without it. From what I learned it’s mostly just for final shaping before plating.

The tub of tobiko required a blood sacrifice to open. Watch those nasty, sharp plastic edges 😛

Rice and Seaweed
Obviously, I bought the seaweed sheets. Did not make them from scratch.

I used this recipe for cooking the sushi rice and making the sushi, going with the version that uses 4 tbsp of rice vinegar, 1 tsp of salt and 2 tbsp of sugar. I nuked the solution twice in 15 second intervals to get everything dissolved before drenching the rice.

The above pictured spread is the results of  2 cups of sushi rice and 8 sheets of seaweed (which turned out to be way excessive). The birthday girl and my dad “helped” me fit it all of it onto the platter you see by “disposing” of several pieces .

Update: Round 2

I made more sushi, again, the day after and changed the components ratio of the sushi vinegar a bit and found that I preferred the taste of the resulting sushi rice. For 4 tbsp of rice vinegar I added  1 tbsp + 1 tsp of sugar, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of fish sauce (the three crabs brand).

2 cups of rice is juuuust enough to go with 6 sheets of seaweed and make 7 rolls. I trimmed 1.5 inches off each of the seaweed sheets (8 x 7.5 inches) off the longest side then overlapped and “glued” the trims back together with a carpet of rice for the last, 7th roll

This is not quite enough to feed a family of four so I will need to cook three cups of rice next time and slap it all on top of 9 sheets of seaweed.

**Another Round: My Favorite Variation

2. 5 Tbsp sugar 

0.5 Tbsp Fish Sauce (Three Crabs Brand) 

0.5 Tsp salt

2 Fl Oz Rice Vinegar (Marukan)  

This variation is a little sweeter and pairs well with briny or salty,  rich things. Not so great with just cucumber maki or tamago yaki though. Rice probably needs another half tsp of salt for those items. 

I doubled the sushi vinegar for double rice (4 cups). Feeds 6 with plenty to spare. 

Things to Try

Shinode Sushi Rice

Tamanishiki Super Premium Short Grain Rice

Heng Shun white rice vinegar

More play with the sugar amount

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Exotics, How to Food

 

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USC’s 2017 Commencement – Speeches of Note

That moment when everyone is hyped for Will Ferrell at graduation but freaking Helen Mirren makes an appearance to also receive an honorary degree.

The (unemployed) valedictorian’s speech was also amusing and managed to make the professional comedian uncomfortable. (00:59:00)

Right afterward are when the 6 honorary doctoral degrees are awarded! Helen Mirren is at 1:20:00

 

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Current Events, Short Humor

 

GPA & Getting A Student Driving License

For a bit of background, let’s just say that in the place where I grew up, the high schools have a *bit* of a culture of over achievement. This is pretty much the attitude you get regarding the number of Advance Placement Classes/Tests you’ve completed or plan to have completed upon graduation:

  • 4 AP Classes: You mean you’re taking that many this year, right?
    • If you’ve got 4 as a sophomore. Then you’re on the right track but might want to pick up the pace a little more. (This is assuming 1 was taken during freshman year as a trial, and 3 during sophomore year. You should be good if you take at least 4-5 AP’s during junior and senior year, each.)
  • 6 AP classes: Do you want to work at McDonald’s for the rest of your life?!
  • 8 AP classes: Slacker.
  • 10: AP classes: Average
  • 12 AP classes: Not Bad. Your prospects look promising.
  • 15 AP Classes : Hey! you probably have a good shot at getting into your top choice school.
  • 16 + AP Tests Taken (Classes + Self Study becuase it’s nigh impossible to actually schedule that many): You are God.

Yeah. By “a bit” I mean that it’s a bit extreme. It’s like an arms race (to get into a good college/university). But when you’re immersed in the culture it feels normal until you come into contact with students from other school districts in university.

Anyhow. this was all going somewhere. Just about every kid has an above 4.0 GPA. How is that possible? Well, the normal GPA scale is on a 4.0 but attaining an “A” grade will calculate into the weighted GPA as a 5.0

  • For example: I get an A in 2 regular classes and an A in 2 AP class, my weighted GPA is a 4.5

Anyhow, my sister was at the DMV getting her license  and this exchange went down:

DMV Lady: “Do you have a 3.0 GPA?”

“stunned silence from my sister

Sister: “Sorry, what?”

Lady: “A three-point-o. what is your GPA?”

Sister: “…. 4.3”

Later retelling the story to me: “My first through was ‘what the hell am I studying so hard for?’ and almost blurted that ‘If i had a 3.0 i wouldn’t be standing here. Alive.'”

Yeah Mom would’ve murdered us the second it dipped below 4.0 which… never would happen because she stalked/stalks our grade-books. I”m pretty sure that she’s faster with the Blackboard passwords than we are

The hardcore helicopter parent culture is quite intense and we don’t even have the worst of it.

As my sister so colorfully described one classmate’s mom, “you can hear the blades whirring above his head as you get near him. Her presence is that strong even when she’s not physically there. If you tried to give him a hug, you’d feel the down draft… if you didn’t get sniped first.”

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2017 in Short Humor