Longchamp and Gudetama

Some of my thrift store finds from the past week include these:

A Betsey Johnson dress that’s only slightly too small: $3.50 — I thought of wearing it to a wedding. But there are so many possible faux pas. I know about the “you may not wear a white dress” rule, but maybe black is also out because it’s too funeralesque?

It’s fun doing authentication on the fly. There are a dozen tiny ways to differentiate an authentic Longchamp Le Pliage from a knockoff, and here’s the super guide on all the ways. This bag was $6.99 and passed all the tests. Sadly, it has a bubbling problem, but maybe the local Longchamp store can help me.

I am a super fan of gudetama. I had considered subscribing to Ipsy for the one month they offered a gudetama bag even though I never use makeup (I don’t know how. Plus, I was traumatized as a child. Okay, I’ll tell that story at the end of this post). But I didn’t have to. I found all of these for $0.99-$1.99. The little notebook is an inspiration. It made me want to learn bookbinding — all of its pages are different kinds of paper. There are even stamps embedded in waxed envelopes. The Dodocase is for an iPad I don’t own, so it’s going on eBay.

Okay, story time. When I was 7 or so, my mom enrolled me in a Jesus summer camp. Mostly because it was the cheapest option available. It was run out of a Chinese church, so they had me doing a fan dance at the finale special of the summer. It was my introduction to makeup. They slathered it on so thick that I couldn’t move my face. Also, have you ever had eyeliner or mascara applied? It’s terrifying! There’s this thing they keep poking straight towards your eye. And they scream “DON’T MOVE OR I WILL POKE YOUR EYE OUT!” But it’s kind of hard not to move when a poking thing keeps coming at your eye… For what felt like hours after, I felt the makeup cracking whenever I moved my face. I thought it was my face cracking so I tried not to move my face at all. Terrifying, I tell you. Now I’m against. Not just for this reason, though I admit it’s a better reason.


But, it’s not even price gouging…

I saw an article posted on social media that was churning the outrage machine. Perhaps you saw it too? The one about Best Buy charging $40 for a case of water. While there are some who would defend price gouging from an economics perspective, I’m not even going to do that. What happened at Best Buy is not an example of price gouging and should not inflame anyone who reads the entire article and knows basic definitions.

First, what happened? Best Buy doesn’t sell cases of water. But an employee realized there might be demand for entire cases, so he took the single bottle price and multiplied it by the number of bottles in the case to arrive at a case price. That would work out to $2.50 for a single bottle of Smart Water, or $1.79 for a single bottle of Aquafina. These are standard Best Buy prices. In Texas, price gouging is defined as “Selling or leasing fuel, food, medicine or another necessity at an exorbitant or excessive price” (taken from the Texas AG’s site). That is vague. Certainly, some may find $1.79-2.50 for a bottle of water “excessive” — it isn’t the cheapest bottled water I’ve seen. But the way of determining price gouging appears to involve examining whether prices in the “declared disaster area spike beyond what the normal market forces set.” Indicating that price gouging does require a raising of prices. Which Best Buy simply didn’t do.

The upsetting thing about people not reading is that this article has been a vehicle for virtue signaling. Anyone who argues with the premise that this is an outrageous example of corporate greed is derided as immoral, callous, or a capitalist.

If we buy the narrative that this was price gouging and someone was taking advantage of vulnerable people during a natural disaster (despite the previous discussion of the meaning of the term “price gouging”) then we have to ask ourselves “which greedy entity profited here?” The employee? Best Buy, unfortunately, doesn’t have a commission scale, so the employee who did the pricing didn’t see any profit. The pricing wasn’t done by or condoned by Best Buy corporate, so that’s out too. Looks like we don’t have a villain here.

Another relevant question: who was the victim? Did someone die because Best Buy wasn’t giving out water for free? Who goes to Best Buy to buy water, anyway?

So where is the outrage coming from? Is it really our mentality that enduring a natural disaster makes us entitled to bulk discounts on water from the electronics store? Unfortunately, it seems that what sells these days is outrage. If an article helps the reader feel moral outrage (and thus, morally superior), then they’ll click, share, vent, and really… what more could an advertiser ask for. Don’t be pawns. Save your outrage for something that matters.

Trash Panda!

Last week I read this article where someone on Twitter called mainland Chinese “the biggest trash pandas.” I don’t know much about its origin or if it’s a slur or what, but I love it. I think I identify as “trash panda.” You know that saying about one man’s trash being someone else’s treasure? You can guess which side of that equation I’m usually on.

So, these are the things that this trash panda found at the Goodwill and Salvation Army yesterday.

A vintage Pyrex Cinderella Butterprint 4 quart mixing bowl. Which I’ll probably keep for storing soup from my baby soup machine.

A vintage Pyrex Cinderella Gooseberry 2.5 quart mixing bowl. I’ll probably sell this one. Or maybe keep it until I’ve found the entire set, then sell.

And a pair of hair shoes. Yes, that’s real hair. (Okay, fur). Bizarre and amazing. I can’t find any information about them. Even the sizing is nonstandard (not US and not EU). I can’t walk in heels though, so these will be for events so special I don’t expect to walk more than a few dozen steps, total.


I visited LA once, as a child. I don’t have many specific memories of what I did or saw, but I do remember the feeling I got from people at the supermarket. There was this palpable desperation. I didn’t know how to describe it, but it filled me with revulsion and, at the same time, I couldn’t look away. Like seeing a mangled corpse. Desperate to make it, desperate to be famous, just desperate.

This week, the Hollywood Reporter’s exposé on Angelyne pulled me back to that feeling again. I couldn’t stop looking. I googled her and found this slightly terrifying documentary short.

I can’t make left or right of it all: it’s a rabbit hole. Don’t do an image search of her. She claims that she covers her face in public because she wants to charge $10k for pictures of her full face but the reality is that after a certain age, even the best plastic surgeon can only make you look like, well, an old lady who’s had a lot of work done. It’s probably too easy to dismiss her … persona … as a result of trauma or even intergenerational trauma, but it’s interesting nonetheless. What I find unsettling is that she’s a smart person playing at being a bimbo. I see the opposite all the time, but this, well, it’s an enigma. Probably how she intended it. The easiest way to part a man from his money?

Up Taipei 101 for free*

*Okay, it’s not really free, but at least you’re not paying just for the elevator ride.

You’re visiting Taipei with friends and they want to go up the Taipei 101. Cool. But the elevator ride is NT$600 (about $18 USD). What to do? You probably did a search for “Taipei 101 free” and found blog posts about the wonderful Starbucks on the 35th floor. This is another one of those blog posts, but with one bit of new information.

I did this search and got my information from Daniel Food Diary. The basic directions are:

1. Call the Starbucks for a reservation at least a day in advance at: +886 2 81010701
2. Be sure to write down the reservation number you are given over the phone, and bring it with you for your reservation.
3. Be in line ON TIME. Be first in line. They have changed the procedure and give numbered tickets. They let people in to the Starbucks according to this order, so whoever was first will get the best seat. This is a new procedure so you may see the opposite advice in other blogs posts from before the change in policy.

I recommend going around sunset, if possible.

Each person will be required to order at least NT$200 (about $6 USD) worth of Starbucks treats, but at least you get something other than an elevator ride for your money. The matcha cheesecake was good, but not a cheesecake. I recommend the rose latte (not pictured).


My longest fast

Also my first serious fast. I did one for 3 days in college because I wanted to prove a point to a friend (with no diagnosed medical problems) who was convinced she would pass out if she didn’t eat every 2-3 hours. I noticed then that after day 2, hunger went away. The same thing happened this time.

Day one was a normal day. I got hungry a few times, ignored it, and powered through. The hunger didn’t come back worse each time, it just came and went at about the same level. Apparently, if you exercise on day 1 and deplete your blood glucose, you start burning fat faster. I’ll try that next time. Day two must have been the beginning of ketosis because my mouth tasted bizarre, like fake sugar, and I was constantly thirsty. I still got hungry, but less so than on day one.

Days 3-6 were fantastic. I never have energy like that when I eat food. I felt more focused and clear-minded. I didn’t get groggy in the afternoons. I wasn’t hungry. I lost about 1.5-2 lbs a day throughout. This was mostly water weight. I’ve been off the fast now for nearly a week, but I haven’t regained all of the weight. I’m still 2-3 lbs lighter than when I started, which is about how much fat loss I had expected.

One question I do have about fasting to lower insulin resistance is how many times or how long the fasts have to be to show stable changes to the body’s set weight? Theoretically, the body has a set-point for weight which gets nudged higher as insulin resistance builds. But when insulin resistance goes down, does this set-point decrease as well? Is it harder to decrease it than increase it?

After the science, my second favorite thing about fasting to lose weight and improve health is its simplicity. It appeals greatly to the sloth in me to be told that 95% of weight loss depends on diet (and only 5% on exercise). It is wonderful not to have to cook. Or clean up after meals. Or think about what to eat. Or shop for it. Modified versions with “eating windows” are simple too: eat 1-2 meals between these hours and never at any other time in between. How easy is that?

Another thing I love about this diet: I have enough fat stores to see me through a week-long backpacking trip. How wonderful not to have to pack anything to eat. Or a trip to one of these tropical islands with over water bungalows and exactly one severely overpriced restaurant. I can go for week-long vacations and never have to worry about eating! I’ve never before been so pleased about my fat stores. Finally, they’re useful for something.

My solution to “chub rub”

If you have no idea what that term means, good. You can continue reading in morbid fascination or cut your losses now. This post was inspired by a similar one from a blog I follow.

Okay. It’s not similar. My solution is a bit different and doesn’t involve anything that can make anyone any money. What’s that? Fasting. A friend recently recommended The Obesity Code, and I finished reading it within 3 days. It’s written with the repetitive lilt of a science popularizer, but the content explains the strident mantra of the “Fat Acceptance” movement, that diets don’t work. While it’s true generally that your body adapts to any increase or decrease in caloric intake by increasing or decreasing energy expenditure, that just means that diets in the traditional sense of the word (i.e., caloric restriction) don’t work. But intermittent fasting does. The book cites only research done on humans, and on significant numbers of humans. Fasting has been shown in study after study to have a variety of health benefits, including lowering insulin resistance and yes, weight loss. Plus, it’s the simplest diet I’ve ever heard of. Having a chub rub problem? Don’t eat food until your thighs no longer touch. I’ll include a link at the end for those interested in trying intermittent fasting.

I find this interesting because I’ve subscribed to a variety of myths about metabolism and weight loss which have been busted by this book. Here’s a sample:

“You should always eat breakfast” — this is based on a survey of people who achieved long-term weight loss but is only a correlation (no proven causal link).

“You should eat many small meals and snacks throughout the day to boost metabolism” — there’s no evidence that this boosts metabolism more than having fewer larger meals, and there is clear evidence that this eating pattern contributes to insulin resistance (which causes fat gain).

“If you fast you’ll go into starvation mode and/or destroy your metabolism” — actually the opposite is true. Metabolism goes up during a fast. Note that this is different from caloric restriction: in that case metabolism does go down to adjust to for lowered intake. In the case of fasting, the body switches to burning fuel reserves (fat) instead.

This wasn’t meant to be a glib response. I’ve had the chub rub problem myself and used to buy in to the learned helplessness of fat acceptance. While I’m new to fasting, I have tried the Atkins approach (or generally low carb, high fat / ketogenic approach) with success, losing about 16% of my body weight last year. I don’t get chub rub anymore. Definitely a cheaper, simpler solution!


Intermittent fasting for beginners

Fasting myths