Zenni

I just got my first pair of glasses online. I’ve always been reluctant to try online eyeglass retailers because I wasn’t sure how they’d look or fit, and the quality/sturdiness of them. I’m happy to report back that they worked out fine.

The silicone eyeglass holders work like a charm.  Where have they been all my life!?!  Gamechangers.
(See the little silicone hooks on the back of the glasses? They are life-altering for me. Plastic frames never stay on my face well. I usually just take my glasses off on the treadmill because they will fall off my face. Where have you been all my life!?)
Quality: So-so. 6/10. They definitely feel not as sturdy as the ones I’ve been getting from Costco – my usual place. In the past, I’d just pick a pair that wasn’t made in China. But they’re probably just assembled with parts made in China. Anyway, Zenni’s glasses are all from China and they work just fine. Not great, but decent. What they lack in the frames department, they make up for in the lenses. They have blue light blocking lenses and I wanted to try them. I don’t know if I feel any difference (aside from a very mild yellow tint) but I feel better having them since I stare at glowing boxes at almost all waking hours. By the way, there is a way to turn down the blue light on your computer monitors and iPhones (and maybe newer Droids). Aside from affecting sleep, the Internet told me blue light may possibly cause retinal damage so I’ve turned it down on all my devices where possible. Even if it does none of those things I’ve found it’s easier on my eyes to not have the glow boxes glow so piercingly bright. It’s probably not good for my skin either, but that’s another issue to solve another time.

Look: 10/10. Well, this is a personal preference thing, but their website does offer different model’s faces to try on the glasses. This worked out fine for me. I got a pair of fierce cat-eyes that turned out to be fun and not too fierce. Mew.

Fit: 1/10. Normally, a brick and mortar would adjust them before you walk out with your new glasses. And while I could still take these into a store, I’ve decided to try eyewear retainer straps and ear hooks first. I got plastic frames, and for me no matter how adjusted plastic frames are, they constantly slide down my face. Plus it’s just a hassle at the gym with loosey goosey glasses – which are all of my glasses!! Hopefully, this fixes the fit issue and the gym issue too.

Verdict: I’d do it again. Price wise – a pair of Costco glasses with their coupon is pretty comparable. My Zenni’s came out to $77 and a pair of Costco’s comes out to around $130.
As far as I’m aware though, Costco doesn’t offer blue light blocking lenses yet. If they did, I could go either way. For the extra cost, it’s nice to have someone measure you and fit your glasses properly. And the quality of the frames are better. That’s probably the biggest factor. You’ll be able to find better quality frames at Costco. I still wear my old glasses (the prescription hasn’t changed that much) from many years ago. I suppose I haven’t owned Zenni’s long enough to say how well they’ll hold up. This is just my initial impression seeing three pairs (a coworker tried them too).

Falafel Inc

Falafel Inc

In short, Max’s in Wheaton is still my favorite falafel place. But this place – Falafel Inc. is delicious.
It’s very simple and tasty and while the place is very small and the lines long, they are efficient.  Their falafels are flavorful and fresh and I’d easily go back.
Falafel sandwich
Their sandwiches are $4 each and salads are $5. Since they’re small, I’d recommend getting at least two of whatever you choose. I might even get three next time I go.

Modern Love

I have two friends at work who are currently active in the dating scene. We like to swap stories about dates and guys and the frustration, romance, and mysteriousness of it all. They recently shared with me a book they read by Aziz Ansari, Modern Love.

It’s funny, easy to read, and has some interesting social-behavioral information about how we mate. And he gives some tips. For example, use the online medium strictly as just the introduction. Get straight to the meeting ASAP. Too much writing back and forth is a waste of time and effort.

If you’re feeling burned out from all the dating, take a break. Cut back on the number of different dates.

Give people a second or maybe even third date even if there isn’t instant sparks/attraction. Attraction is actually built up over time. (But I’d add, if you have a gut instinct that this isn’t gonna work, trust that.)

From listening to my friends sussing out online communications here are some things they find to be off-putting (granted this is just two people – and I don’t necessarily agree with all of it)

  • When messaging someone, sure talk about yourself, but remember to ask a question or two as well to get a conversation going.  If all you do is introduce yourself and don’t ask questions, it’s hard to respond.
  • On a date, again, be sure to ask questions.  Sure, share about yourself, but let them share too.

Actually, reading this, it sounds rather common-sense.  I’d say this applies to general friend-making.  Anyway, throw all of the above out the window.  Just be yourself.

Regardless of how you feel about Ansari and his dating prowess, or lack of, Aziz is a funny writer.  Modern Love is easy to read and he cites some behavioral statistics and information that can be insightful about human nature.

For example, the reason why people delay texting back is to create a sense of scarcity.  People are more attracted to scarce things. So not texting back right away creates an illusion of scarcity.  Also random text delays work better.  We respond more positively to random rewards.  So this may all be well and dandy but then when he did a poll most folks prefer genuineness.  That kind of manipulation in timing texts can come across as insincere/insecure.

Ramen Side-by-Side

Last year, I went with my friend to Hanabi and I can only describe her reaction as thoroughly disappointed.  She said I had to try the vegetable ramen at Daikaya. She said it would knock my socks off.

We finally went to Daikaya a few weeks ago and I don’t know if it’s because of the monster appetite I’d worked up earlier from the gym (See?  I DO use my leggings!!  What’s another piddley lil pair of Girlfriend Collective leggings?), but that bowl of ramen knocked my socks clear off.
Here is a picture of it for your viewing pleasure. Well, really for mine because I relive the moment of slurping the rich hot soup.
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I think I know why she likes it better. Daikaya stir fries their vegetables in a searing hot wok to give it a greasy smokey flavor. The soup is really rich too.

The following week, I went back to Hanabi to give it another go. It’s still as oishi as I remembered. Their soup isn’t as greasy and the vegetables are cooked in hot water so they’re blander.
Vegetable Ramen from Hanabi
Of the two, I think I slightly prefer Hanabi.

One of my biggest gripes about ramen (eating out in general) is everything is too dang salty. What is wrong with the chefs in this town? They burn their tastebuds off or something? They add more and more salt!! Hanabi’s ramen is still salty but the salt and grease is much less overpowering. Yes, salt and grease = big flavor but I’d still like to taste the vegetables and ingredients.

Overall I’d eat at either place anytime.

Haircut

I donated my hair last year. Here’s what I thought about it before and after.

Short hair

Before:

    • Donating hair is great and for a good cause. I should do it while I can (as in before my hair turns gray.)
    • It’s easy. I only need to find a participating hair salon that will cut it and send it en masse with other peoples’ donated tresses.
    • Not sure how I feel about short hair. I always have it long enough to tie back at least.
    • I will do this again and again!

After:

  • Donating hair is meh, whatevers. They’ll probably just chuck it anyway (I’ve read that it happens a lot.)
  • It’s a pain in the ass I have to mail in my hair. No salons participate because bullet above.
  • Not being able to tie it up is a minor inconvenience and it’s more effort to tame the bedhead. Other than that I LOVE SHORT HAIR! I feel more stylish.
  • I am undecided about doing this again.  Leaning probably not.

TSwizzle’s Launchpad

It’s not like I HAD to go to Nashville to be in the solar eclipse’s path of totality.  But that the path drifted through Nashville was a sign I wasn’t about to ignore. And lo, it happened. She started announcing her new album on eclipse day. We are kindred spirits.  We understand each other.
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Nashville, though it be what I consider to be deep south, is not at all how I imagined deep south to be (gun totin’ bible thumpin’, secessionists).  I was wrong.  Nashville is retirement-worthy, an honor I don’t hand out easily; it follows Hawaii.

It is a trendy place.  Fancy.  Gentrified.  What was that word some real estate articles like to throw around?  Tony?  Yeah, Nashville is a tony town. The people are glamorous.  It felt wealthy.  Coming home after hanging out in Berkeley or NYC makes me feel like our hood is so nice and clean. But after Nashville, I felt like I was coming home to a dump.  Isn’t it odd, the higher the cost of living, the dumpier the place? Something for me to keep in mind for the future. Maybe it’s the rising tide effect. Wealthier places have a higher gini coefficient probably.

Also, Nashville is hands down a better food city than DC.  We dined twice at Little Octopus where they served the most creative dishes.

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This is a cucumber watermelon salad made with chili, lime, peanuts, and mint. We came here two nights in a row.

Another delicious place we stumbled on is The Grilled Cheeserie.
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Tomato soup, grilled cheeses, and tater tots. All of this is plant-based! So addictively delicious!

And if you’re into music, you’re surrounded. We didn’t even have to try to see a show. One night, we stopped by a bar after dinner and they had a jazz/bluesy singer performing.
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Another night, we walked through Broadway and there were live shows all up and down the street. They all sounded record-contract worthy to me. I have even more respect for her skills after seeing Nashville. That TS was plucked from all of these gifted artists speaks to her level of talent. She’s the real deal.

So I wanted to walk where she probably has walked many times over.
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To her collaborating song-writer, Liz Rose’s studio on Music Row (which looks like a street of single family homes). They wrote Teardrops On My Guitar, Fearless, You Belong With Me, and All Too Well together, amongst others.

And of course, her own record label’s office, just a few doors down.
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Big Machine Records. Totally unmarked, it looked like somebody’s home so, feeling intrusive and rude for loitering about, I quickly took a picture and left. Being there made my heart flutter.

But we weren’t done fluttering my heart.
This is the Adelicia.
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Unless she’s since sold it, this was the first place she bought and the first night she spent alone in her own place inspired the song Never Grow Up.

The real star of the show for this trip was our star though. The sun! (Sorry, that was cheezy)
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Not a good picture of the total eclipse, but this was a photo of it. Experiencing it was awesome, in the truest meaning of the word. It was humbling. And for a split second before we had to put our eclipse sunglasses back on, the diamond ring was the most beautiful part of the show.
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These are crescent-shaped shadows cast from the trees when the moon was starting to uncover the sun.

reputation

Ok, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard or at least heard of Look What You Made Me Do, Taylor Swift’s newly released single from her sixth album, Reputation.

I have been waiting for this album for a year!  She had been on a two year album cycle for her past five albums.  Since 1989 came out in 2014, I thought 2016 was for sure going to give us another album.  But it was crickets so I’ve been anticipating something this year.  And finally!!!

The first time I heard it, I was shook.  Pardon for using that term.  But it fits.  I didn’t know how to eat it.  It wasn’t like any other TS I’ve heard.  It’s dark.  It’s petty.  It’s an old narrative.  But I’ve since gobbled it up and I’m ready for more.  And I’ve now seen the music video a hundred times and even when I’m not listening to it, it’s in my head all day long.  I think the video really helps me understand the song better.  It’s meta.  She’s addressing the old story regarding past feuds, but also making fun of it.  It’s clever, it’s funny, it’s self-deprecating.  It’s new Taylor, but it’s also the same savvy Taylor.  I love it!

Best Shower Cleaner EVAR!!

Here’s how good this stuff is.  I don’t clean my shower for months.  MONTHS!!  Maybe 6 months?  Yeah.  I told you I took a hiatus from cleaning.  You think I’m kidding?  I don’t kid when I’m having important TV time.  Anyway, this stuff made cleaning the shower a breeze.

I learned it from Pinterest.

  • Dawn dish soap (the original blue stuff, but I got Target generic version which seemed to work fine)
  • Cleaning vinegar (Not white eating vinegar; this stuff, while still safe to handle, has higher acidity than eating vinegar. I found it in the cleaning products aisle at Home Depot.)

Two ingredients.  That’s it.  Mix it in a spray bottle.  The Pinterest instructions said to use warm vinegar so I microwaved it for a few seconds first.  I’m not sure if that makes a difference.  Anyway, spray it all over the shower, leave it on for an hour or so.  Come back and scrub. Rinse.  Re-scrub any remaining scum that you missed.  It pretty much comes right off.  I used to exert a lot of energy cleaning the shower. That’s why I dragged my feet about it, because it was so strenuous and tiring.  But this stuff really made the job super duper easy and the shower sparkles like new.  And mostly not too toxic as cleaning products go.

Vegan Fare

I tried two new vegan places last month.  One was Fare Well and the other HipCityVeg.  I had tried to go to Fare Well earlier with friends, but given an anticipated 2 hour wait, we went to Union Market instead.  Fare Well turned out to be just okay.  Their food was incredibly salty.  If I ever went back there, (which would be against my recommendation), I’d just get the polenta fries, which, while greasy, were tasty.

HipCityVeg on the other hand, I wanted to go back the next day.  I haven’t yet, but I still think about their chick’n nuggets which taste like how I remember McD’s nuggets. Maybe they figured out what’s in McD’s flavor crystals. Their bella burger was delicious too.  Even better than the nuggets.  None of their stuff tasted overly salty.  Just a well-balanced combination of flavors.

I’m not sure if I’ve written about Mom’s Market’s Naked Lunch counter but it’s worth repeating until I find something better – because they are my favorite vegan food place.  They serve uncomplicated fresh ingredients and they just let the food shine through without being smothered in too much salt, sugar, or grease.  It’s just combinations of good flavors that meld nicely.  And they don’t overdo it with the highly processed fake meat vegan crap which, while they can be tasty (chick’n nuggets for example) I have no idea what the fuck it is.

Omakase at Kobo

I wanted to love this place.  I want to support businesses that acknowledge that it’s important for ethical, environmental, and health reasons to provide vegan options.  Or heck, just plain financial reasons!  But it was good to okay.  Not I-want-to-go-back-take-my-friends spectacular.

The meal started off with a bang.
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These little balls of amazing flavors bursting in your mouth.  Mango with basil sprinkles, strawberry with fennel sprinkles, and lychee with rose sprinkles.  They were fun to eat and tasted true to the flavors.  But this was more dessert than starter to me.

Following on were more littles.  Little bit of tomato tartare.
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A little bowl of tofu with handmade vegan caviar.
A little cone of micro greens.
And a mouthful of green tea noodles. Untitled

None of it was enough, and they knew that, so as the last course, they hit you with a big bowl of gohan.

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That’s rice.  We got a normal full meal sized bowl of rice with bamboo and shiitake.  While good, it really stood out from the rest of the menu which was delicate and bite sized and pretty and then, plop, here’s some rice to fill you up.  Also, the website says it’s a 12-15 course menu, whereas I counted 11 courses, including the welcoming tea and the amuse bouche as two separate courses.

The chef was a great guy.  And he asked us for what we’d recommend to him.
We both told him that even though we probably didn’t need to eat more, and it was probably better we didn’t, we could have had more.

Here’s what I didn’t tell him –
This menu, though vegan, isn’t truly vegan-friendly.  I don’t eat meat but I still need protein.  The menu had plenty of carbs from rice and vegetables but the only protein in the entire menu was a tiny bit of tofu and fungi.  Where’s the natto?  Where are the pulses?  And for a Japanese vegan place, they could have incorporated more varieties of plants.  Lotus root.  Seaweed (there was some but I wouldn’t have minded more).  More tsukemono (pickled things – though there was a very interesting pickled ginger flower). I wanted everything to be something I couldn’t make at home.  This was not the case.  Some things were definitely unique, but it felt like the menu petered out at the end.  Instead of a grand finale that wow’d us, it was a sputter to the finish line.

The service was impeccable.  They were all super duper friendly with zero airs.  No snooty pretentiousness.  We slurped.  We picked up our bowls.  We Kirby’d our food.  We felt completely at ease.  And I was hungry by the time I got home.