Orthogonal Thought | Random musings from the creator of Cooking For Engineers and Lead Architect of Fanpop

AUTHORS

CATEGORIES

ARCHIVE

ACTIONS

HOWTO: Redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage Miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards for Los Angeles to Alaska

Posted 19 December, 2012 at 3:40pm by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Credit Cards, Travel) 1 comment

A couple of my relatives posed an interesting question to me the other day and I realized it had a complex answer that wasn't easy for me to explain over the phone. I thought a blog post might be just the thing since I could easily provide pictures and tables without worrying about what their email client does. They live in the LA area and have some American Airlines miles accumulated and, more recently, Chase Ultimate Rewards points which they can transfer to airlines because they have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Since I was the one who convinced them to get the Sapphire Preferred card in the first place, naturally, they asked me how to use those points since they were mostly familiar with using American Airlines miles for redemptions.

I recommended Chase Sapphire Preferred because Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points do not transfer to American, but instead transfer to United, Avios (British Airways), Korean Air, and Southwest. This allows them to diversify their miles to provide some more options when American isn't the best deal or isn't flying at the best times for them. The best part is that by redeeming Avios points through British Airways for domestic flights, they can get an American Airlines (oneworld alliance) or Alaska Airline (partner) award if they need it.

Click here to read the rest of
HOWTO: Redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage Miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards for Los Angeles to Alaska

What I Ate: Fu Fu Cafe (Houston, Texas)

Posted 4 November, 2012 at 6:17am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Dining, What I Ate) 2 comments

Like Confucious, we've eaten at Fu Fu Cafe more than once this year. The first time was actually on the same night that we ate at Confucious the first time (two lobsters with ginger and scallions, jade tofu with king mushroom, and water spinach). After Confucious we stopped in at Cafe Kubo to taste their ramen (no good). Then we went over to Fu Fu Cafe (not to be confused with Fu Fu Restaurant in the same shopping complex) for the third dinner of the night when I ordered their Pork and Chive Dumplings.

Pork Chive Dumplings ($5.99). These were as close to homemade as I've ever had in a restaurant. The value was excellent - we received sixteen dumplings for our $6. Unfortunately, five were ultra slalty, but I still ended up eating all of them (even after just having two dinners back to back). Technically, I ate 13 dumplings, and Tina ate three.
Pork Chive Dumplings

Click here to read the rest of
What I Ate: Fu Fu Cafe (Houston, Texas)

What I Ate: Hong Kong Food Street (Houston, Texas)

Posted 4 November, 2012 at 4:31am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Dining, What I Ate) 1 comment

For our mid-day meal, we decided to try out Hong Kong Food Street on Bellaire Blvd. We ordered a few dishes that caught our eye (and we hoped we could finish since we couldn't take leftovers with us; we weren't heading back to the hotel for a number of hours).

Congee with Pork & Preserved Egg ($5.50). We had never had congee served to us this way before. It came in a large clay pot so hot that the circumference of congee was splattering and sizzling. The texture of the rice was excellent - liquidy porridge with soft rice (not completely mushy but still in discrete pieces). I felt the pork that was in it was a bit on the fattier side and was fairly strong tasting when compared to other examples of this dish. The pidan tasted pretty good with just enough of its strong flavor to contribute positively to the congee. Tina did not like a "lardy" flavor that (to my taste was subtle but seemed to be quite strong for her) permeated the congee. She is typically the one between the two of us that enjoys congee the most, but she did not like this one because of that flavor she was overwhelmingly tasting.
Congee with Pork & Preserved Egg

Click here to read the rest of
What I Ate: Hong Kong Food Street (Houston, Texas)

What I Ate: Confucious Seafood Restaurant (Houston, Texas)

Posted 3 November, 2012 at 3:12am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Dining, What I Ate) 1 comment

This year, we've had the opportunity to dine at Confucious Seafood Restaurant in Houston twice. The first time was January 2012 and the second was tonight. The highlight of both meals was the Chinese style lobsters (two of them) for $18.99.
Baked Lobster with Ginger and Green Onion
Click here to read the rest of
What I Ate: Confucious Seafood Restaurant (Houston, Texas)

What I Plan on Watching During Fall Television Season 2012

Posted 11 September, 2012 at 3:54am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Television) 2 comments

Each year, I plan out what I'm going to record during the Fall TV season. This year, I have two TiVo HD's so I don't have nearly the scheduling conflicts I did in previous years. In past years, I used green for what I'm planning on recording and yellow for shows I was interested in. This year, I'll use green and blue for the two DVRs (with green being the downstairs TV and blue for the secondary unit which gets either won't get watched often or will be streamed). Shows with names in italics are new shows and those with underlined titles have mouseover notes. All times are Eastern or Pacific. Central Time would be one hour before. (Click to see: 2011 Schedule and 2010 Schedule)

Monday
8:00pm 8:30pm 9:00pm 9:30pm 10:00pm 10:30pm
ABC Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars
September 24
Castle
September 24
CBS How I Met Your Mother
September 24
Partners
September 24
2 Broke Girls
September 24
Mike & Molly
September 24
Hawaii Five-O
September 24
CW 90210
October 8
Gossip Girl
October 8
NBC The Voice
September 10
Revolution
September 17
FOX Bones
September 17
The Mob Doctor
September 17

Click here to read the rest of
What I Plan on Watching During Fall Television Season 2012

Make Natural Soap At Home - FAQs

Posted 9 August, 2012 at 8:45pm by Tina Jiang
(Filed under: Soap Making) No comments

Since I wrote the first blog post about making natural soaps at home four years ago, I've been getting a lot of questions. I noticed some recurring themes and picked out the most common questions. I tried to answer them to the best of my knowledge… hope this is helpful for everyone.
Click here to read the rest of
Make Natural Soap At Home - FAQs

What I Ate: Ms. P's Electric Cock (August 2, 2012)

Posted 8 August, 2012 at 7:24pm by Tina Jiang
(Filed under: Dining, What I Ate) 2 comments

Fried chicken is one of Michael's favorite foods, so when we saw a coupon for Ms P's Electric Cock Fried Chicken (1101 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX (512) 912-7778) on Livingsocial.com, we bought it. Finally tried it last Thursday… and unfortunately it was no good.

It's a food trailer on South Congress, and here's a picture of their menu:
Menu

Click here to read the rest of
What I Ate: Ms. P's Electric Cock (August 2, 2012)

A Whole Foods in South Austin Opening June 19th

Posted 16 June, 2012 at 3:39am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Austin) 3 comments

There's a long awaited Whole Foods Market opening up in the Shops at Arbor Trails shopping complex (at MoPac Expressway and William Cannon) across the parking lot from the South Austin Costco. All day today, media had the opportunity to tour the new Whole Foods Market four days before the grand opening on Tuesday, June 19, 2012. Here's a quick sneak peek of the new market.

At 39,600 sq ft, this newest Whole Foods Market is a little less than half the size of the flagship Whole Foods on Lamar in downtown Austin. The space is beautifully lit by a mix a natural and artificial lights with a good number of skylights providing most of the illumination when sunny and ambient light sensors which automatically increase or decrease the artificial lights as necessary.
Whole Foods Interior

Click here to read the rest of
A Whole Foods in South Austin Opening June 19th

What I Ate: Michi Ramen (5/18/2012 & 6/8/2012)

Posted 13 June, 2012 at 2:50am by Tina Jiang
(Filed under: Dining, What I Ate) 1 comment

Finally, authetic ramen in Austin! Ramen is one of our favorite foods, and, when we lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, we ate it regularly. Since we moved to Austin, it's been a major challenge finding good ramen. We've tried a few places in town - Kome Sushi Kitchen, Musashino Sushi, Bonsai - and have been disappointed. When we visited Houston in January, we tried six different ramens and still didn't find what we were looking for - some were simply no good, others were not authetic (more fusion style with Vietnamese or Thai flavors in the broths). The soy sauce based ramen at Kata Robata was decent, but it didn't quite satisfy our cravings for Tonkotsu ramen which has a rich and hearty broth. Our prayers are finally answered! Michi Ramen (1012 W. Anderson Ln., Austin, TX 78757), a food truck, opened about a month ago, and now we have authetic ramen in Austin!

Here's what we ordered:
Miso Ramen
Sweet soybean tare, chashu slices, butter, corn and woodear mushrooms
(we added extra chashu and a marinated soft-boiled egg)
dsc_8666_550.jpg

Click here to read the rest of
What I Ate: Michi Ramen (5/18/2012 & 6/8/2012)

Credit Scores and What Really Affects Them

Posted 23 February, 2012 at 11:51am by Michael Chu
(Filed under: Credit Cards, Life) 1 comment

Over the years, I've heard a lot of different theories about how to increase your credit score. Most of them are grounded in some truth, but are based on incomplete knowledge. For example, a lot of people say that given the choice to buy a car with cash or finance it, you should finance the car to build credit. Although, that is generally true over time (in the short term, the auto loan will actually hurt most credit scores), there are often better ways to increase one's credit score without the initial negative effects and without having to pay real money on interest.

A credit score, such as the FICO score (produced by the Fair Isaac Corporation), is a numerical way for banks and lenders to determine if an individual is a credit risk. The scores generally range from 300 to 850 depending on which company and which method is being used to calculate the score. In theory, an individual with a 300 on this scale would be someone who would definitely default while an individual with a score of 850 would be guaranteed to not default. Since nothing is ever certain, the scores are designed so people will fall between these two extremes.

Click here to read the rest of
Credit Scores and What Really Affects Them

NAVIGATION

SEARCH