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What I Plan on Watching During Fall Television Season 2011

Posted 8 September, 2011 at 2:52am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Television) 1 comment

For the last couple years, I've been making a grid to plan out what TV shows I plan on recording on my TiVo HD. I can only record two stations at once, so some nights I have to make hard decisions. Luckily, cable networks tend to replay their shows, so, I can rely on catching an encore presentation instead of the prime time showing when I have conflicts. Green is what I'm currently planning on recording and yellow is what I'm interested in.

Monday
8:00pm 8:30pm 9:00pm 9:30pm 10:00pm 10:30pm
ABC Dancing with the Stars
September 19
Castle
September 19
CBS How I Met Your Mother
September 19
2 Broke Girls
September 19
Two and a Half Men
September 19
Mike & Molly
September 26
Hawaii Five-O
September 19
CW Gossip Girl
September 26
Hart of Dixie
September 26
NBC The Sing-Off
September 19
The Playboy Club
September 19
FOX Terra Nova
September 26
House
October 3
HBO Bored to Death
October 10
Enlightened
October 10
Angry Boys
December 5
The Life & Times of Tim
December 19

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What I Plan on Watching During Fall Television Season 2011

Las Vegas: The $20 Tip

Posted 20 July, 2011 at 4:42am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Travel) No comments

I don't know if it's a bribe or a tip, but I can personally attest that slipping the check-in representative a $20 bill (folded and handed to her when she asks for ID and credit card) and asking, "Are there any complimentary upgrades available?" really does work in Las Vegas. From everything that I've read, this is one of the few cities where this trick does work. I did it on a busy tourist weekend (July 4th, 2011) and got a smile and an "of course!" as a response. The $20 bill disappeared and I had the choice of whether or not to stay in The Venetian as I previously booked or move to the quieter Venezia Tower (warning, there is no WiFi there) or to the even more luxurious Palazzo. We ended up going from the standard Luxury room at The Venetian (650 sq ft suite, 32-in flat screen TV and 17-in flat screen TV in the bathroom) to a Strip View Luxury room at The Palazzo (720 sq ft suite, 42-in flat screen TV in front of the bed, 32-in flat screen TV in the living room, and 20-in flat screen TV in the bathroom) for our entire stay. (Obviously, the longer the stay the more of a deal the $20 upgrade tip is worth.) (I spent some time on my last trip in a room in the Venezia Tower and it isn't as nice as The Palazzo. There's something luxurious about being able to control the curtains on the other side of the enormous suite with a remote control - something not offered in the Venezia Tower room I visited.)

What happens if there are no upgrades available (such as during a busy convention)? I don't have any experience in this, but from everything I've read, you get your $20 back. So if you're staying longer than one night and there are rooms worth upgrading to (for example, I wouldn't do this if I was staying at the Imperial Palace in a Deluxe room as the next level up is a "love" room with mirrors on the ceiling and probably very well used beds), it's certainly worth a try.

Las Vegas: How to get from The Palazzo to Venezia Tower quickly and from The Venetian to Walgreens without getting in the sun

Posted 19 July, 2011 at 4:25pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Travel) No comments

I recently stayed at The Palazzo for several nights and found that I wanted to minimize the time I spent walking around the casino floor. I'm not a big fan of walking through gaming areas because they are loud, crowded, and smokey. The Palazzo's casino is actually really nice compared to most of the other hotels because the pathways are quite wide and smoking is only allowed at the games (but many people don't heed the signs and just walk around with lit cigarettes… plus, smoke travels through the air and no one told the air to stay at the tables and machines). Because of my plans, I found myself walking from my room in The Palazzo to the Venezia Tower on the other end of The Venetian several times a day. By the end of the second day, I had found "optimal" paths through the massive complex. It was also 110°F outside and the sun could blister and burn skin in a matter of seconds, so I really didn't want to go outside if I could help it. I'm also a firm believer in stocking up on supplies at a drugstore like CVS or Walgreens whenever I travel for the necessities (water, mouthwash, rubbing alcohol, and other things you aren't able to bring on planes with you anymore). We asked several different employees from the front desk to a bell boy to the concierge and the directions we were given all involved going outside into the sun and walking along either the side of The Palazzo or along Las Vegas Blvd if coming from The Venetian side. By the end of the first day, we figured out how to get from within The Palazzo/Venetian complex to the Walgreens without exposing ourselves to the sun and being outdoors (in the shade) for about half a minute.

Note: All of these paths are reversable. To go the other way, just follow the directions backwards. I list them in the direction that I walked the most often and is easiest for me to remember. It's a good idea to walk them once in the direction I've written them down so going backward is more recognizable.

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Las Vegas: How to get from The Palazzo to Venezia Tower quickly and from The Venetian to Walgreens without getting in the sun

Font size for large signs

Posted 18 April, 2011 at 4:53pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Miscellaneous) 3 comments

I had to make a couple of signs that were visible from the street the other day. I wasn't sure how big to make the letters, but I did know from past experience that people underestimate how big to make fonts for viewing from afar. Here's what I found as a guide. Hope it helps someone out.

Letter Height Estimated Distance
1/2-in 15 feet
1-in 35 feet
2-in 75 feet
3-in 100 feet
4-in 150 feet
6-in 200 feet
8-in 300 feet
1-ft 400 feet

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Font size for large signs

What I Ate: April 2, 2011 (The Noble Pig)

Posted 9 April, 2011 at 1:51pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Dining, What I Ate) No comments

It's no secret that my favorite sandwich place in Austin is The Noble Pig. What I haven't talked about is the incredible once-a-month dinners that The Noble Pig offers. Tina and I went to the March and April dinners (April was vegetarian themed) and found both to be delightful. The meals start at 7pm and run about 2.5 hours for four courses. The cost is $55 per person and you must make reservations ahead of time. I posted an article about the Noble Pig Dinners on Cooking For Engineers with more pictures.

The Noble Pig - Yellowtail Hamachi with carrots, carrot puree and green chili oil

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What I Ate: April 2, 2011 (The Noble Pig)

What I Ate: February 23, 2011 (Haddingtons)

Posted 24 February, 2011 at 3:42pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate) 2 comments

We went to Haddingtons for a media event where we sampled several items. We started off with a TLT - smoked tomato, brun-ostoo cheese, lettuce & truffle aioli which I didn't photograph because I ate it standing up. It was delicious and Tina's favorite.

Scotch Eggs pickled quail eggs in sausage.
Haddingtons - Scotch Eggs

Foie Link house made foie sausage with pear relish. The filling was mushier than a weisswurst. Tina didn't like the texture and I felt that it would have been better if it was firmer since the casing was relatively difficult to chew through. Otherwise, I really liked the sausage and thought it was well paired with the relish.
Haddingtons - Foie Link
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What I Ate: February 23, 2011 (Haddingtons)

What I Ate: February 21, 2011 (Justine's Brasserie)

Posted 24 February, 2011 at 1:23am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate) No comments

If we're eating late, Justine's Brasserie (4710 East 5th Street, Austin, TX (512) 385-2900) is where we go. We ate this dinner at around 1am.

Charcuterie Plate house-made and served with cornichons ($14)
Justine's - Charcuterie Plate

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What I Ate: February 21, 2011 (Justine's Brasserie)

What I Ate: February 16, 2011 (Rio Star Grapefruit Dinner at FINO)

Posted 16 February, 2011 at 11:34pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate) 1 comment

I was lucky enough to be invited to a grapefruit themed dinner hosted by TexaSweet Citrus (a non-profit corporation that promotes fresh citrus fruits grown in Texas) at FINO Restaurant. Each of our courses featured Rio Star Grapefruit (which happens to be my favorite - I had two on my kitchen counter before going to the dinner… now I have six). Some had grapefruit as more of a garnish (the lamb) while others were subtle but added a whole new dimension to the dish (hamachi crudo which was cured in a grapefruit juice brine); all were delicious.

Grapefruit Gazpacho
Rio Star Grapefruit Dinner at FINO - Grapefruit Gazpacho

COURSE 1
Beet & Rio Star Grapefruit Salad
mozzarella burrata / arugula / basil
Rio Star Grapefruit Dinner at FINO - Beet & Rio Star Grapefruit Salad
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What I Ate: February 16, 2011 (Rio Star Grapefruit Dinner at FINO)

What I Ate: February 11, 2011 (Congress)

Posted 12 February, 2011 at 9:57pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Food, What I Ate) 6 comments

We had an 8:45pm reservation at Congress and when we arrived our table wasn't ready yet (the previous party had not left). They had a small table in the bar reserved for us to wait at, so we sat down and ordered sparkling water. We had the choice between Topo Chico and Tynant, so we chose Tynant - a sparkling water from Wales with relatively large, crisp bubbles but not overly acidic or metallic (the water worked quite well with our meal and we ordered a second bottle while dining). We were hungry, so we ordered the Burrata - Oxtail Marmalade - Buttered Brioche ($12) from the bar menu (which I think is serviced by the 2nd Bar kitchen because it was brought over from the door leading to 2nd Bar). The creamy mozzarella, sweet oxtail, and drops of fruity olive oil made an excellent appetizer which we lathered over the soft, fluffy bread.
Congress - Burrata - Oxtail Marmalade - Buttered Brioche
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What I Ate: February 11, 2011 (Congress)

Snow

Posted 4 February, 2011 at 1:52am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Austin) 2 comments

After a couple days of below freezing temperatures, it started to snow tonight. Here's a picture I took threw my office window (through a screen which is why there are grid lines) down my driveway just minutes ago.
Snow on Driveway at 3:00am

And a close up.
Snow - Closeup

Even closer. Here you can see the snow was disturbed by animals. We actually saw the two cats that made these tracks when I first peered out the window to see if it was snowing. I used a flashlight to look at the snow outside of the window and when I panned up, caught a black cat standing on the driveway. The cat walked down the driveway and another, smaller, gray cat followed. The two seemed to be doing just fine in the 20°F conditions.
Snow - Super Closeup
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Snow

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