All the travel tech you’ll need

… as of 2016 anyway.

I’ve booked another trip to New Orleans. Last February, we went during Mardi Gras with a couple of friends. Let’s just say that it was a four-day floating trip of parades, beads, and endless booze. This time around it’ll just be Chris and I and we’re going for the food and the sights. We had a sampling of excellent food the last time we were there but I feel like we only scratched the gustatory surface that NOLA has to offer.

I consider myself a moderate when it comes to tech. I’m definitely not an early adopter since I don’t see myself spending ungodly amounts of cash for new tech. But I like to have the toys when I need them. Now traveling with tech can be tricky. They’re collectively  heavy and bulky (depends on what you have) and luggage space and weight is precious. Over the years, I’ve learned what to bring and what not to bring. Here are some recommendations.


If you’re a voracious reader like me, buy a Kindle or something similar. Not the fancy Kindle Voyage or even a snazzy Fire. Just their cheap, small, light and perfectly serviceable e-reader that costs around 50-70 USD. Aside from the above mentioned qualities, the battery life of a regular e-reader is phenomenal. With normal use, it can last weeks! It’s also impervious to glare so you can read while chilling on a white sand beach during a nice sunny day.

“But I’m a physical book kind of person.”

I am, too. But trust me on this. I’m the type who used to lug around three to four paperbacks around before but traveling with a Kindle changed my life.


I recommend buying a dSLR but only if you know how to use one or would like to take the time to learn to. It can provide the kind of image quality that you only see on magazines, major news and travel sites, and hardcore travel bloggers. The downside is that they’re expensive and blocky and some people think that walking around with a massive camera screams “Tourist!!!” (Look, everyone will know you’re one so you can get over that.) I have a Canon dSLR which I’ve had for years and it takes gorgeous pics.

But if you’re an Auto-mode person then a dSLR would be a waste for you. Do some research and buy a good quality point and shoot instead. Some say that their cellphone has a perfectly nice camera but a midprice small digicam still takes better pics and has a longer battery life. Imagine your phone dying while you’re walking the rim of the Grand Canyon. You can use your phone to do more important stuff like updating Facebook and calling your mom. Of course, cellphone cameras are better when it comes to social media photo updates (think Instagram or Snapchat) but still use a regular camera for the bulk of your vacation pics.

Besides, a digicam with video capability can take better quality videos than a cellphone when you’re drunk and singing Bon Jovi’s Always in some karaoke bar in the middle of somewhere.

Optional: Go Pros. Divers and other athletic types say they’re necessary. I don’t dive and don’t have much use for a Go Pro that can’t be done by my regular cameras. We went snorkeling with whale sharks once and a small underwater camera proved to be more than enough for the job. I also took a few pictures of Nemo while island hopping. I would say that it’s good to invest in a Go Pro if you’ll often engage in activities that would need one.


Some people forego this but I personally like taking a laptop along. Ideally one that has a screen 14″ or smaller. A lighter and thinner model is also much better. As for price, it really depends on how you use one. Some need a powerful machine for multimedia needs and some are casual users that need something basic. I fall somewhere in the middle.

Why would you need a laptop? Well, it can be for a number of reasons. It’s essential for someone who has to work remotely or prefers the versatility and power that a computer provides over tablets and cellphones. And, if you’re like me, it’s just so much easier to use a keyboard.

However, if you just don’t think a computer is necessary, then consider bringing a tablet instead. Also, see note on hybrids below.


For shorter trips that are a week or less, I skip the laptop and take my tablet instead unless I have to work or have schoolwork. I very rarely bring both at the same time.

Why bring a tablet? I find it more useful to keep my phone on hand while doing stuff like surfing the net, video chatting with family and friends or watching Netflix on sleepless nights. The battery lasts longer and you can use it for a longer period. If you have kids or annoying little siblings (**cough**Sofia**), you can always hand them the tablet to play with instead of giving them your precious smartphone.

There are computer and tablet hybrids like the Surface. That’s so much better than carrying a laptop if you don’t want to deal with the weight but would prefer to have more versatility than a regular tablet or cellphone could provide.


This among everything is absolutely essential. You can skip everything but not this one. It’s the machine for EVERYTHING. Aside from its obvious necessity, it can be a lifesaver when you’re lost and need to look something up asap and you’re not in your room.

Of course, a smartphone or tech equipment is nothing without —


Buy a quick charger that can power up your cellphone or tech faster than a regular cheap one. It’s worth the extra expense. Newer cellphones already come with one. And while we’re on the subject of chargers, don’t forget a travel adapter or converter. Get at least a couple. Different countries can have different plugs and voltage and having a travel adapter will make your life so much easier.

Portable chargers are not a necessity but are highly recommended. I thought I didn’t want one but quickly realized that I did when my phone was saved several times during a multi-island trip by my mom’s powerful portable charger. Hers had enough juice to power up three dying cellphones.


Not often mentioned but absolutely important. Make sure your precious tech are properly encased to prevent damage. I prefer to have them in my wheeled carry-on because I’ve had my luggage lost once. There are tons of trusted brands that provide a variety of protective cases for your electronics. Don’t forget a good case and tempered glass screen protector for your cellphone as well.


PS4, XBOX or any other gaming systems. Because if you think you’ll need them then you may as well stay home. It’s ok to take a break from Witcher III or Dragon Age sometimes and breathe some fresh air.


That makes up my list of travel tech. My husband feels that some of the bigger stuff are unnecessary until he asks me if I brought the tablet. :p



When you want to grow up but your face won’t let you

When I was 22, I was popping pills to stabilize my hormones, going to the dermatologist regularly and religiously following everything he said. Since I was in my 20s, I was simply waiting for the day when acne would decide to leave me and move on to greener and younger pastures — like the face of that annoying 14 year old who called me “old.”

Fast forward 10 years and I’m still waiting. I tried weaning out of it when I was 29, sure that I was old enough to stop worrying about the same skin problems as my co-worker’s 12 year old daughter. Almost two years later, I gave up the struggle and found a dermatologist in my new home. I’m now back to the same vicious cycle, buying Neuac and tretinoin in RiteAid while sticking to Cetaphil since anything else is “too harsh.”


Everyone also says that I look so young for my age and I still get consistently carded everywhere. People think I just got out of college a couple of years ago for Christ’s sakes! Now I don’t mind that. But can I look young without having to deal with this shit? I truly envy people who have nice skin because they were born with it, not because they spend $$$ to see a skin doctor every three months.


W7 In The Nude: A sort of review

I took my W7 In The Nude with me to Wildwood on girl’s weekend. I did mine and the makeup of a couple of friends and we all *loved* it. Robin turned 52 so I got her the W7 In The Buff Lightly Toasted and a set of brushes. I’m loving how the rosy nudes and browns blended with my Southeast Asian skin. I used the same palette on my friend Tracy, a pale-skinned and blonde Irish, and it looked great on her, too!


Pigmentation was good, definitely a lot better than the Shany palette that I had at home. I also loved the mix of mattes and shimmers, although I’m predisposed towards the latter.

I’m seriously considering getting W7’s Color Me Buff (a supposed copy of the Urban Decay’s original  Naked). We’ll see. Here’s a link to W7’s whole set.

Speaking of brushes, I swear by EcoTools. They’re inexpensive but the quality is awesome. I’ve been using them for years and have never experienced loose bristles and I’ve always been satisfied with them.

The Asian Conondrum

On Halloween, I always revert to Google or YouTube for costume makeup tutorials. I’ve been quiet successful so far. Chris and I during Halloween 2014:

chris steffi

I like his more than mine.

But for actual, everyday, non-Halloween use, YouTube is no help. Every single tutorial that I see are based on Caucasian or African American eyes — eyes that have a lot of fabulous real estate when it comes to applying color. I don’t have a monolid but I still do not have a fantabulous  area to show off a lovely blend of colors pre-crease. I tried and tried and ended up looking like I used one color and not four. I also noticed that a lot of eye makeup styles are geared towards making a woman’s eyes look longer, more slanted. I don’t need that, I already have that! It made me fear eyeliner and for years, I believed that I can never wear eyeliner below my eyes because I’d end up making it look “too small.”

So, I decided to throw everything I “learned” away and start over. 

Bun Bun Makeup Tips has an awesome post about the variety of Asian eyes. I was so relieved to finally find one that acknowledged the different shapes and types and why other racial makeup tutorials would not work.

I have wide, almond eyes with a double eyelid and a parallel crease. The right eye is more hooded than the left so when my eyes are open, you barely see the lower lid. The left has a visible two millimeters or so. Not only do I have the type of eyes that are barely seen in tutorial blogs or vlogs,  they’re asymmetrical as well.

There are so many looks that I’d like to try. But last night, I decided to try one that went against all my previous rules.

The New Contour

For so long, I thought crease and contour were the same; the area where the eye meets the eye socket. A lot of tutorials say that one must apply some shade to the crease… A crease that becomes instantly invisible as soon as I open my eyes.This time, I didn’t think about which is which. Instead of thinking of areas, I thought in layers: blending one color over another like a monochrome nude ombré from my lash towards my brow.

Defeating the Eyeliner Scare

I blended a thin line of dark eyeliner on my top lash line as usual. But this time, I went ahead and did the same thing below my eyes, blending it lightly to create a subtle smoky effect.

… And Eye Loved it!

I was so happy that I did a small dance and scared the chihuahuas. It’s my first effort for this look so I decided to celebrate and take a pic. The makeup is not heavy so the shades are not that visible and I only did a light contouring on my face but I’m still proud of myself so who gives a shit at this point?


Photo is unfiltered but I used a front facing cellphone camera. And yes, that is white hair. A product of genetics and my advanced age of 32. 😉

Next chore: hair coloring. *sigh*


No, this is not about nudity.

Any female who is at least slightly familiar with makeup knows about Urban Decay’s Naked eye shadow palettes. I’m not exactly an expert and very rarely wear makeup so I’m not as finicky as most. I have one large multi-color palette and one smaller 4-block with gold and brown shades that I use when I travel. I quickly realized that due to my skin tone, neutrals, gold and brown tones look so much better on me. I ended up using the smaller palette more frequently and barely touched the large one. I believe the last time I used it was Halloween. 😀


While I was in Vegas, my friends and I went to Sephora to test drive some brands. I spent at least 15 minutes testing out the original Naked palette (pictured above). I loved the colors and the creamy texture. It’s definitely something that I can picture using often since they don’t have that garish extra-in-a-Kesha-music-video look. However, I found the price quite prohibitive. I couldn’t imagine spending $54 on one strip of eye shadow. So I left the lovely palette behind and forgot all about it for a while.

Speaking of testing makeup, my high school best friend Tintin swears by it. In our early twenties, she used to go to The Body Shop all the time and use all the samples she liked from body butter to every single eye shadow color. I used to feel embarrassed but Tin sensibly explained that one is supposed to and is expected to do it since the salespersons want you to buy a product that you’d like. Aside from Tin, my 11 year old sister Sofi loves it, too! Even as a small child, she loved spending time in the makeup department of our local department store as the salesgirls were only too happy to help out the cute little girl.


Anyway, back to Urban Decay. Out of all the Naked palettes, I liked Naked3 the most since pinkish hues suit me the best. While browsing Amazon for stuff that would make me look decent for the upcoming girl’s weekend at Wildwood, I found this:

Naked 3 Dupe 3 Edit


W7’s In The Nude looks like Naked3’s identical twin! And for $9.07, it’s also much cheaper. I instantly ordered it and, since I’m a Prime member, I should have it by Wednesday. I can’t wait!

I’m not expecting it to have the same high-end quality as Urban Decay’s iconic product but I’m not above using copycats as long as it has good pigmentation and isn’t cakey. W7 also has other palettes that are based on the Naked product lines.

  • Naked = In The Buff Lightly Toasted
  • Naked2 = In The Buff
  • Naked3 = In The Nude
  • Naked Smoky = In The Night

For a more thorough comparison, see Beauty in the Bunny’s review.



Skin Deep

Yesterday, Chris and I decided to forego the movie theater and went to Voorhees Town Center instead. Instead of going to Elena Wu as we originally planned, we went to Catelli Duo, the newest wine bar in the area.  I had a plain sleeveless black dress on, had no make up or accessories, and had my hair up in a bun. The only splash of color I had was my pink shoulder bag.

The place was pretty flashy and had a bunch of ex-yuppie Gen-Xers in khaki shorts and glamorously accessorized millennials my age and younger. Chris was dressed exactly like the Gen-Xers so he looked fine but I stuck out like a sore thumb. I only paid attention to Chris, the food, drinks and the bartender so I didn’t really focus on the other patrons. Chris is much more observant and told me that:

  1. People looked because I was the only Asian in the place. Not surprising since Voorhees and its surrounding towns are predominantly white.
  2. The girl behind me looked me over from head to toe and turned dismissively. I said I noticed that one but didn’t mind. I explained that pretty girls hate other pretty girls.

Humble moment. 😀

It did make me think. Have I been more relaxed about how I dress and look since my marriage? I think I used to be more OC about my appearance.

Some women at work told me that I no longer need to worry about my looks since I’m already married. I objected and said that married women have to make more effort — we’ll be the last person our husbands will ever sleep with so we shouldn’t let ourselves go. The same applies to men. I see so many men who gain 100 pounds and get massive Dad-bods after marriage and kids. I told Chris that I liked him thin. I also asked him to let me know if he thinks that I need to lose weight. He has not said anything so far and he continues to tell me how beautiful I am everyday. Personally, I think he’s biased but I do appreciate it.

Love, respect and devotion are essential in a marriage. But are looks just as important?

I’m With Her

Today, a woman has done something remarkable. Hillary Clinton is now the presumptive Democratic nominee. Not only will she the first woman President, she is the right woman for the job.

She is not glamorous, nor is she charismatic. She’s been around forever so the excitement of having someone new, someone who has new promises to believe in, is not there. We know everything about her — every flaw and history — that there is no longer anything left for her opponents to hit her with. She is where she is through sheer hard work, qualifications, experience, intelligence, patience, and political ability. She doesn’t have empty promises, she has realistic platforms.


Aside from the usual complaints about Benghazi, the email issue, and her connections with Wall Street, she has also been criticized for her appearance. Her weight, her clothes, her voice, facial expressions and her style have all been poked at and made fun of.  It’s funny how no one says the same things about the male candidates.

I admire this woman for many reasons. She may not be flashy but she is who we need.

And she’s totally rocking that white coat. 😉

Congratulations, Hillary.


Subliminal Sexism


When my husband first showed me the X-Men Apocalypse poster of Mystique being strangled or choked by Apocalypse and the immediate media response about it being a symbol of violence against women, I felt a little bothered but I echoed his statement about how people are too politically correct and over-sensitive these days. The poster must be okay because:

  1. Regardless of the protagonist’s gender, Apocalypse is a villain trying to kill them. They could put Charles Xavier on it and it would still be the same. Basically, Apocalypse doesn’t care about your gender, he will attack you all.
  2. Jennifer Lawrence is a headliner so it makes sense to feature her in a promotional poster.
  3. If women want to be taken seriously, then we should be willing to take what men do to other men. Equality goes both ways.

Although I’m a proponent of women’s rights, I was never one to react impulsively, nor am I oversensitive about issues. I was not raised in politically correct America. For me, equality is a right and not a privilege and we should not expect to be pampered and coddled for our sex.


However, the poster still bothered me. After some thought about the matter, I explained to my husband why.

  1. My instinctual impression was negative. It looked like Apocalypse was able to overpower Mystique due to her physical weakness in comparison to him. Sure, most women are not as physically strong as men. But does this fact need to be glorified?
  2. EVERYONE will see this poster; not just X-men fans, moviegoers or those familiar with the X-men storyline and characters. These people argue that Mystique is obviously a strong character who will survive and the poster is all about Mystique’s survival in a seemingly impossible situation. But who else sees this poster? Children who are not familiar with the story and simply see a picture of big man strangling a smaller woman — children who see adults saying that it’s okay.
  3. Why choose Mystique? There are other headliners in the cast. Was it because the poster looked eye-catching? Or was it because she was beautiful, sexy and appealing to male audiences? I’m sure seeing a beautiful, appealing woman being treated in a violent manner is not sexy unless you’re into those things.
  4. There are many scenes portraying Apocalypse attacking the protagonists. Hell, I’m sure there are many scenes with Mystique and Apocalypse fighting. Why choose that particular one?

What bothered me was the public reaction to this. Some agreed that this poster was offensive but a huge chunk also slammed those people for being oversensitive. We were made fun of and told that we joined the “gender politics” club. You know what, there is a reason why there even is a gender politics crowd. There is a reason why women are starting to voice out their frustrations. Fifty years ago no one would have blinked to see a poster like this. Today, this poster has been questioned and criticized because we know that we finally have the right to do so without fear of being mocked by men as being irrational and oversensitive.

But we were still mocked. Mocked both by misogynists and even completely (supposedly) rational men who are tired of hearing women’s complaints. Is this an example of subliminal sexism? If they’re tired of women’s complaints, then maybe they should jump into a time machine where men telling women to shut up and “know their place” was the norm.

The Fox executives’ decision to use this as a promotional poster was in bad taste. Hopefully, they’ll replace it with a better one.

Witcher III: Yennefer or Triss?

That is the question.

[Disclaimer: I did not read the books, nor did I play the previous games and have no plan on playing them. I may read the books later on. My opinions are completely based on my playing Witcher III: Wild Hunt.]

I’ve advanced far enough in the gameplay — I’m not done yet — to spend some time with both Triss and Yen. I saw how different they were and how they interacted with Geralt. Here is my analysis on why I chose who I chose for G.




I *like* Triss. I really, really like Triss. She’s funny, smart, nice, sweet, pretty, brave, loving and beautiful. Apart from the witch hunters and King Radovid, everyone seems to think highly of her. She has a deep empathy for her fellow mages and people in general. She even went OOC and became an inspiring leader for persecuted mages while helping them escape from Novigrad because she knew what she needed to do. She is not prideful. When she needed money both for herself and her fellow mages, she did everything no matter how low (i.e. killing rats) for a sorceress of her standing  just to earn some coin. She willingly exerted a lot of effort and put herself in danger for the sake of saving one or two individuals.

While trying to look for Dandelion and Ciri, she withstood torture from the witch hunters so Geralt could interrogate Menge. Afterwards, she slaughtered her torturers and burned the building. That’s pretty amazing for someone who’s known to be “really nice.”

She sincerely cares of Geralt, Ciri and their friends and she obviously still carries a torch for our resident witcher. Lastly, she has tons of deep red hair and lovely green eyes, both of which I would love to have in a heartbeat.


She slept and entered into a two year relationship with Geralt while he had amnesia, knowing full well that he and her dear friend Yennefer were in an occasionally on and off but decades long relationship. Yup, that’s a true friend alright.

As a supposedly powerful sorceress, I believe that she has the potential to do so much more. But she relies on Geralt so much for a lot of little things. When it came to proving herself as a leader, she depended on Geralt to make an important decision, which should have been her call (see Now or Never quest). Yes, I know they’re necessary for quest content but it’s the way she asks and what she asks for that I found annoying. There is a distinct lack of independence as the game clearly shows that Geralt showed up in the nick of time before Triss got into deeper trouble.

Her sweetness and likability make her major flaws easy to dismiss.




Let’s get the looks over it early on. Yen is glaringly gorgeous, the type that would shine in a dark, crowded concert hall and make other women hate her. Her hair is so unbelievably glossy and looking at it makes me want to pour a whole bottle of serum on my head.

She’s independent, intelligent, focused and strong. She’s not afraid to take on difficult quests alone and she is secure and confident in her abilities as a sorceress. In spite of her distant manner, she shows an ability to deeply care for Geralt. However, her love for Ciri dwarfs her affection for Geralt (see The Last Wish quest). She is single-minded and devoted on her search for Ciri. She will roam the earth for her, steal for her, suffer for her, drain a sacred’s garden’s magic power for her, perform necromancy for her, and tolerate kings for her. For Ciri, nothing was too much for Yen as she constantly reminds Geralt that finding her and protecting their “daughter” from the Wild Hunt was their main goal.


Yen seems to think that manners are optional. She has minimal small talk skills and can easily get impatient with people she does not particularly like. When under pressure, she sees politeness as a waste of time and appears brusque to others. Unsurprisingly, this does not endear her to a lot of people. When she was in Kaer Morhen, the first thing she did was order other witchers to gather things she needed to break the curse (see Ugly Baby quest), which made Vesemir, Lambert and Eskel think of her as bossy and rude. She can also be sullen and stubborn. She rarely smiles.

She can have a sarcastic and dry humor. Some may interpret it as her putting Geralt down a lot. Others may see it as playful banter borne out of habit from being together for 20-some years.

She has a temper. She gets annoyed very easily and, upon arrival at Kaer Morhen, lost no time in tossing a heavy oak bed out of the window because that’s where Geralt and Triss stayed during his amnesia years.


I chose Yen.

*waits as violent reactions from male chauvinistic gamer-bros ensue*


The game forums are full of criticisms about how utterly bitchy and arrogant Yen is and how badly she treats Geralt in comparison to how sweet Triss is to him. Aside from stressful situations, I never thought of Yen as bitchy. She was pushy and demanding at times but only when she needed something critical. Otherwise, she acted perfectly civil and polite. Her sarcastic wit is something Geralt is surely familiar with, he even joked about it in Vizima. She is definitely more distant but that is most likely caused by her naturally secretive personality and by her ability to compartmentalize her feelings and set her emotions aside temporarily when needed. Her “arrogance” is a misconception that stems from her confidence in her ability and talent as one of the most powerful sorceresses in the world of Witcher.

She did not feel the need to ask Geralt or any man for permission when it came to making important calls that she had to, especially when it was within the sphere of her expertise. The ones who called her too controlling may have missed the parts where she asked Geralt for assistance or left the decision up to him when the situation called for someone with his skill set.

The malicious criticisms against Yen reminds me of how people in real life see confident, independentassertive and intelligent women as abrasive and bitchy. I don’t find it disturbing that gamers are quick to judge. What I do find disturbing is why male (and even some female) gamers branded Yen as THE BITCH and completely bashed her, when she just happens to be the only strong female among the lead characters, as they sang Triss’ praises for being a nice, submissive and sweet girl. Misogyny is alive and well, folks.

My husband, who is not intimidated by the type of woman described, thinks Yen is an awesome character. I think she’s a very complex and more interesting one than Triss. Before leaving for Kovir, Triss begged for Geralt to ask her to stay. Yen would have said “f* it, I’ll stay because I want to be with you.”

I chose Yen because she has proven her love and devotion for both Ciri and Geralt. Sure, her relationship with Geralt may not be perfect but let’s be honest here… Geralt isn’t exactly the squeaky clean boy next door type. (Hello!!! Keira Metz and the Cinderella-isque fling!) He deserves the occasional barb. I think he’s damned lucky to have women like Yen and Triss in his life.

In the end, I think Yen is the better choice for Geralt. He’s drawn to her because he knows she’s what he needs. She will certainly keep things interesting for Geralt as they grow old together (awww). I don’t see her expecting Geralt to retire in wedded bliss (as Triss would) as that would bore Yen to tears. I see them traveling, casting spells, slaying monsters, and working together to save this cynical world one quest at a time well into their twilight years.


If you’d like to read an account about Yennefer from someone who has read the books and played all the games, see The Real Dragon Nerd’s post here.

Fitness and a Jawbone

After years of stubbornly avoiding it, I gave into the whole fit tracker trend and bought a bracelet. But the rebel in me refused the get a Fitbit so I got a black Jawbone UP2 instead.


I got it from Amazon for $45. You can access your stats through the website or, more conveniently, an app. It tracks your steps, activity and sleep:

I have this synced with my company’s Spring into Motion system so I hope my team would win a prize this year. But even if we don’t, I like that I can see how much activity I’ve done in a day. My target is at least 10,000 steps and 8 hours sleep.


I wish we started the contest during the weekend in AC. I must have spent at least 5 hours dancing.

Clearly, I need to move more. The weather is not helping. It rained all weekend and I spent two days laying on the couch or sleeping because I felt like sh1t. I couldn’t even study because my vision was so blurred. I feel so much better now. It must be the walking and 3 cups of coffee.

Speaking of the weather, what happened to April showers lead to May flowers? May is almost over and it’s still chilly and wet some days. It better not be this way during the weekend of Warren and Jay’s wedding. Otherwise, commuting to NY would suck.

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