Cow Parts Blog

Los Angeles and Things of Randomness


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New Beginnings and Regaining Old Habits

A new year is here with an endless amount of opportunities ahead of us. Here is the time to create your New Year’s resolutions and hopefully you can achieve them. If you are like me, I create a lot of goals for myself but have a hard time achieving them. The biggest issue that many of us have is that we are so fixated on the end result that if we don’t see changes right away, we give up immediately. Other issues is creating an unreasonable goal where you set yourself up for failure and disappointment anyway.

The way I go about it is that I break down my end goal into smaller, achievable goals that can give me the motivation and sense of accomplishment to continue going. If you play video games, you cannot just jump to the final boss and expect to win. It doesn’t work that way, and life doesn’t either. Instead, you have different checkpoints and objectives you must achieve before you are given the opportunity to fight the final boss. Life works the same way, you cannot just workout really hard and expect a six pack within a week. You need to break it down, day by day, starting with a good diet to supplement your workout routine.

Here are some of my goals for the New Year. I have already begun working on them in December and plan to continue these habits throughout the new year.

dumbells exercise

Working out – Minimum 3-5 days a week, maximum 1 hour session.

The reason I am putting this as a maximum 1 hour sessions is because when I also want to focus on other things with my limited hours. 1 hour is what works for me and is enough to keep me in shape and mentally sane (I get anxious when I stop working out for too long). It may be different for you.

KindleReading –  At least 20-50 pages a day.

This is one of the biggest challenges for our current generation. Being a millennial myself, I have a short attention span and essentially stopped reading books after grade school. This is going to change. Reading 20-30 pages a day adds up very quickly and you can finish 1 to 2 books a month if you keep a steady pace. This is one of those breaking down your habits little by little that I mentioned earlier.

Wordpress Blogging

Blogging – At least 2-3 posts a week.

Being a fairly addicted gamer for the majority of my life, a lot of the hobbies I used to enjoy were put on the backlot and essentially disappeared. I was distracted by playing games and watching tons of television dramas. This year I picked up blogging as a hobby that I can express the things I enjoy doing and share it with others who have similar interests.

What are your goals for the new year? Comment below!

– Gary

Credits:

  1. http://newyearsevepartyplaces.com/north-america/united-states/los-angeles/
  2. http://websitemojo.net/blogging-for-business/
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Photography at the San Diego Safari

Some of the best photos taken are the ones where your subject is not posing for your camera. Your subject in their most natural setting is what can set that timeless feeling of your photo. It could be snapping a shot of a person at a busy street or catching that moment where your subject is at their most vulnerable state. These kind of pictures do not have the same effect as posed photographs and usually will not occur more than once. san diego safari

This photo was taken at the San Diego Safari while i was sitting down, taking a short break from walking. Fiddling around with my camera and just observing people as I was resting, I happened to take this picture of these kids doing what kids do best, being playful.

– Gary


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Another Noob Photographer

Canon Rebel T5

Everyone has an outlet to release their creativity. Whether it is drawing, painting, digital art, to making music, expressing yourself is a way to keep yourselves sane in this busy world.

Recently, there has been a huge boom in social media over the last few years while also popularizing taking pictures. Everyone loves pictures. We communicate through it in Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and many other outlets. It is simple and it is easy. It is a fun and easy way to store those special moments and show off all the cool places you have been to, especially if you live in Los Angeles.

Lately, I have had a peak interest in photography. I have been already had experience in using my company’s digital SLR in taking product images for our website but had never got to picking up a camera for myself. With the holiday season starting, I saw an opportunity for a good deal on a camera and decided to take the plunge and got myself a Canon EOS Rebel T5 with an 18-55mm lense.

I’m still getting used to taking more photos in dynamic environments rather than a small photo shooting area where the lighting is always the same but some of the things I am trying to perfect are adjusting the ISO, aperture and exposure levels to take better pictures. Here is what I learned so far.

ISO – The ISO setting on your camera is the sensitivity to light. Lower ISO’s are less sensitive to light and higher ISO’s will make your camera more sensitive to the light coming in.

In other words, for darker settings, you want a higher ISO to increase the light sensitivity. Lower ISO’s are favorable in well lit settings since you do not need as much light. A high ISO in a bright room will make your photograph washed out so you will need to adjust accordingly to get a better image.

Aperture – The aperture in your camera is the amount of light that goes into your lense. It is a small hole in your lense where the size can be adjusted through the F-number setting. In this case, the smaller the F-number, the bigger the hole, and vice versa. How does this affect your image? A smaller aperture will make the focus of your image sharper, while blurring out the background. a higher aperture setting will make the entire image clearer.

Exposure – Exposure, or shutter speed, is how long your camera is exposed to light before you take the snapshot. A higher shutter speed will instantly take that image for you, allowing you to capture those special moments before they get away. A slower shutter speed will take into account the motion that occurs in your object. This is how you create those motion blurs of light in freeways at night, or smoky light trails from fire.

These are just the basics I have learned. If I have explained it incorrect or something is wrong, let me know! Photography is a fun hobby and living in Los Angeles, there are so many events and things to do, that having a decent digital camera is always a good thing to carry around. It is not as convenient to carry as a smartphone but you have much more control of how your picture comes out with on a digital SLR.

Here are some of my favorite shots I’ve taken so far! These were taken at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show. My shots are still a work in process but I can see this becoming a long term hobby!

micro plants

micro plants2Accord


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Getting through your Daily Commute

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Long, boring commutes. This is one of the ongoing problems for many of those who live in densely populated, urban areas such as Los Angeles. Many of us sit in the the car and accept that the ride is boring but those who are willing to maximize their time will take advantage of listening to podcasts during these long commutes. Podcasts are a great way to stay productive when all you can do is stare at the road until you get home.

You can listen to podcasts from your smartphone, iPod and any mobile device that you have. Even though I’m an Android user, I choose to use the Podcast app that comes with the iPod’s and set it to automatically download new episodes every morning. There are no advertisements and it works seamlessly. For Android podcast apps, the highest rated app is called Pocket Cast. I have not personally used it yet but it has all the mainstream podcasts that you can find. This app is not free but it is relatively inexpensive at $3.99 for a plethora of content. If you do not want to dish out any money for a podcast app, there is an Android alternative called Podcast Addict. It is free to use and has most of the popular podcasts. The only downside is this app has a lot of advertisements but you can remove these by paying the premium.

Once you have found your favorite Podcast App, you can now begin your productive journey in those long commutes to and from work or school.There are many different topics and categories of podcasts to choose from. You can listen to entertainment, education, business and pretty much anything you can imagine. I personally listen to a lot of finance and business podcasts during my hour long commutes but everyone has their own preferences. Here are my current favorites, in no particular order.

  • Planet Money is probably the most famous one in this list. Being one of the many shows on NPR, this podcast takes different topics and breaks it down from an economic point of view. Almost every episode is worth listening and lets you see different points of views on subjects that you may not have thought of.
  • The Start Up Chat with Steli and Hiten is a new podcast debuting in the middle of 2015 and features two Silicon Valley veterans who decided to make a podcast. Steli and Hiten are very knowledgeable in the processes of how startups work. The ups, the downs, they have been through it all as they are founders of their own start-ups. Many of their episodes will teach you an issue startups face and how to deal with them. At the end of the podcast, they will advise you one or two action items to do for your own companies.I personally think that a lot of the topics they discuss provide a lot of insight and can be applied to everyday life in how to improve productivity and efficiency in your life.
  • APM: Marketplace deals with a lot of recent events regarding business, stocks and finance. It sums up what happens in a nice 20 minute segment for those who want to know what is happening in the news but are short on time.
  • APM: Marketplace Tech is similar to APM: Marketplace but is much shorter and deals with recent events regarding tech companies. Many of the companies they talk about can range from up and coming start-up companies to large corporations like Apple and Samsung.
  • What’s Tech takes technology and explains them in clear, detailed fashion. Whether it be a product, concept, or recent theory in technology, What’s Tech keeps it fun to listen as well as informative.

My commutes range from 35 minutes to an hour each way so I usually keep in line enough podcasts everyday to power through the drive. I enjoy listening to music on my commutes as well, but sometimes you need to change things up a bit. You can learn so much through podcasts and I feel it should be something more people should take advantage of. It is free and there is really nothing to lose from doing it.


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Dir En Grey – The Mayan 2015

I listen to a large variety of Music, ranging from KPOP and EDM to death metal. Why? I love music and appreciate all the different genres musicians create. In high school, I had discovered a Japanese band that went by the name of Dir En Grey. The first song and music video I heard from them was called “The Final.” This song contains a very mellow tone and combines both clean and screaming vocals. After hearing this song and a few of their other tracks, Dir En Grey instantly became one of my favorite bands.

Fast forward to the present, I recently got a chance to see my favorite band in action. On November 5, 2015 they were at the Mayan theatre located next to Belasco. The Mayan is a beautiful theatre with tribal themes to the architecture that spans throughout the walls and ceiling. It is small venue but it is enough allow the band to thrive and do what they do best– instill thrill and excitement.

The show began around 9:10pm where the band, one by one, walked onto the stage. The crowd lit up as the members brisked over to their respective instruments. The last member to come out was the lead vocalist, Kyo. Draped in white robes and black scarf, Kyo emitted a demonic and evil presence to all those around him.

Dir En Grey - The Mayan 2015

The crowd erupted into a ferocious cheer.

Many who have been to a Dir En Grey show say their performances are dynamic, full of energy and emotion. The high range of Kyo’s voice is legendary in the genre. His screams can become deafening sharp and his singing can become bone chilling. You can tell that Kyo gets deep into every song and portrays it through his emotional storytelling.

Dir En Grey starts off their performance with “and Zero,” a melodic instrumental that sets off an anticipation to the rest of their songs. “Behind a vacant image” continues the mellow mood but that all changes once Kyo begins his act. Kyo’s voice starts off slow but quickly explodes into shrieking wail. With the pounding of Shinya’s drums and the thunderous bass of Toshiya backing Kyo’s voice, the audience has been sent to a hypnotizing, headbanging trance.

The performance slows down at end of “Saku” where it is followed up with the beginning of one of the band’s most powerful songs, “TOUSEI.” Dir En Grey has strayed from writing mellow, ballad songs but “TOUSEI” brings to the act a mixture of emotions where the audience cannot help but feel the grief and despair in Kyo’s voice.

Dir En Grey continues the set with one of their single’s tracks “VINUSHKA,” which picks the pace back up to what it was before. A 10 minute storytelling filled with screeching, growling and low humming of Kyo’s vocals, the crowd is alive again and continues for the rest of the set.

As someone who has been listening to Dir En Grey since their Withering to Death album, I was very satisfied with what I saw and heard. They have come a long way since their Visual Kei days but their changes are unlike other bands where their changes feel more like a necessity in the story’s they try to tell. While they did not play as many of their old songs as I would have liked, they played enough of their bread and butter tracks that still built in to the nostalgia factor.

Setlist:

  1. and Zero
  2. Behind a vacant image
  3. Sustain the untruth
  4. OBSCURE
  5. HAGESHISA TO, KONO MUNE NO NAKA DE KARAMITSUITA SHAKUNETSU NO YAMI
  6. Merciless Cult
  7. -Saku-
  8. TOUSEI
  9. VINUSHKA
  10. Cause of fickleness
  11. Revelation of mankind
  12. UROKO
  13. THE FINAL

Encore:

  1. The IIID EMPIRE
  2. C
  3. UN DEUX


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Paleo and P90X

Like many people in the beginning of 2015, I set a New Year’s Resolution of losing weight or more specifically, “get a six-pack.” We have all told ourselves every year to make this our goal but most people, including me, fail and do not follow through very well.

The Problem

I do not consider myself overweight but I did have a bit of stomach fat that I have been telling myself to get rid of every year. I worked out almost 4-5 days a week and gained very little results in the abdominal region. My arms, legs and chest were toned but I just could not lose the keg.

One of the biggest reasons I was not getting the results I wanted was that I was very reluctant to change my diet. At the time I enjoyed eating junk foods, fast foods and told myself that maybe I will get results if I simply cut down on the amount. Spoiler Alert: It did not work.

Almost all workout programs include a strict diet program and if you do not change what you put into your body, you should not expect the results that you want. A good example would be putting the cheapest gasoline into your Mercedes-Benz when it drinks premium– nothing good will come from it.

The Fix

In the beginning of 2015, I told myself that I am going to reach this goal of a six-pack or at least defined abs no matter what. So I started doing research and figured I am just going to have to force myself to change my diet– something that I was hesitant to do.

After some research, I realized that an easy diet that I could do with very minimal amount of calculating was the paleo diet. I complimented this diet with a P90X workout which allowed me to get the results I wanted very quickly.

Just as a starter, I did not opt for a full paleo lifestyle. The cuts I made were for the sole intention of getting my abs toned in the fastest amount of time without starving myself. I basically did Mondays to Fridays, strict no rice, no noodles to start with and slowly replaced certain foods that had too much saturated fat with healthier organic foods. I cut down my meals to strictly chicken, veggies, and fruit. To prevent myself from starving, I bought unsalted mixed nuts from Costco, greek yogurt mixed with chia, organic granola, and fruits. This, along with scrambled eggs became my daily breakfast and snacks.

P90X

The workout regimen I chose to compliment my diet was the P90X workout. I have done this workout in the past but never actually finished it. It was a workout I was familiar with, highly rated and is hosted by the very entertaining trainer, Tony Horton.

This workout is very beneficial and efficient because since I currently do not have a gym membership, I can do everything from home. You will still need dumb bells and a pull up bar but since I do not have a pull up bar, I opted to do modified versions that had similar muscle movements and worked out the same muscles.

After about a week into the workout, I chose to implement whey protein to supplement my sessions. Whey protein is not paleo but since I was already following a liberal paleo diet, I did it anyway in order to get the results I wanted. The whey protein actually felt quite amazing when I first started drinking. I felt like I had more energy and I could push myself to the limits.

Around beginning of April 2015, I had already pretty much achieved my goal. P90X was completed, my abs as well as arms are toned and I feel healthier than I have ever been in my life. One thing I regret is that I failed to take a before and after shot. I cannot see the progress I have made but I definitely see a difference, in how much more toned my body is.

Today, which is November of 2015, I am not as strict on my diet but I have been able to maintain my body the way I want it. I workout and follow a liberal paleo diet 3-5 times a week and allow myself to eat whatever I want on the weekends. This actually works great for me as food tastes absolutely amazing when I eat out at restaurants. It is a delicious treat for a week’s hard work!


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Knott’s Scary Farm

As someone who has avoided scary things like the plague, 2015 was a year of facing new challenges with scary stuff being one of them. I watched a few scary movies and they were indeed, quite frightening. After a few movies, I realized that I wanted to test myself. Let’s go to a haunted house!

So once it was decided to go to a haunted house. I needed to decide which haunted house I wanted to go to. I did not want to go to a crazy one that will give me a heart attack but I also did not want to go to one that was too tame. Eventually it was decided to go to Knott’s Scary Farm.

As I was about to get through the ticket booths, there was a lady dressed as a witch, scaring people. Being my first time, I was pretty creeped out by what I saw. Once I went in, there were many people in costumes sneaking up and scaring people. Some of costumes were themed after the Seven Sins and some of them actually looked pretty cool.

I, being a coward, spent the first 20-30 minutes on a lookout for anyone trying to sneak up on me. Every actor walked right passed me and did not bother trying to scare me. I felt kind of disappointed. I was there to be scared but I was simply too alert to have any fun in the open.

Once the gates opened to allow people into the haunted house’s, first thing I did was go grab the Special OPS: Infected tickets. These tickets gave me a scheduled time to show up to play a live action shooting game against zombies.

After I got my tickets, it was time to go to the haunted mazes. Since I did not write this post right after the event, my memory is a little bit foggy so I will just list the ones I found most entertaining.

The Dead of Winter – This maze is based on the movie Frozen and features a hall of mirrors you that you need to walk through. This was definitely one of my favorite mazes from Knott’s Scary Farm. While it was not that frightening, the mirrors open up a lot of possibilities for a very frightening experience. Some things I would try to improve would be to incorporate more ideas involving the mirrors and make the maze a lot longer.

My Bloody Clementine – Long lines, long lines, long lines. Unless you go early, there huge lines everywhere at Knott’s Scary Farm. Fortunately after all that standing around, you can finally relax your feet a little. My Bloody Clementine features a train ride through underground mines where demons and spirits lurk. As you expect, during the train ride, you will see a lot of ghouls and unsightly beings prowling around. Things will pop out from the walls as you go through and surprise you if you are not paying attention.

Special Ops-Infected-Patient Zero – This one was not really a maze but it was fun nonetheless. This is a video style game where your commander tells the audience to separate into different groups before embarking in a survival game with laser rifles. You run through the maze with the goal of reaching checkpoints and finding Patient Zero; in which you win the game. The game is not too difficult but gives you a nice thrill of re-enacting a video game style survival game. You can still get hurt and die if you allow the zombies to get too close to you but you can kill them through head shots. I am not quite sure if you can lose the game since a few of our members died in the run but we still won. There is a checkpoint where you are given an artifact that you need to bring to the end of the course. That may be what decides the outcome of the game. Overall it was a fun attraction and would recommend to anyone that wants to play an entertaining game of zombie survival.

Ghost Town Streets – This was not a maze but it might as well be. The entire street becomes engulfed in a fog of smoke and you will not be able to see much past a few feet. This part was actually really entertaining since it is so difficult to see what is going to sneak up on you.

Overall, I think Knott’s Scary Farm is a fun attraction to go to with both family and friends. It is PG enough where parents can take their kids and will not severely traumatized them for life. If you have never been to a haunted maze, I think that going here would be a very nice beginner’s experience. If you are used to horror attractions and watch a lot of scary movies, this would probably feel like child’s play.

 


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August 2015 Playlist

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I have listened to a ton of music over the span of my life. I would say my main genre would be rock but I’m pretty open to everything including, metal, pop, hip hop, folk, as well as foreign music. Here is my current playlist for the month. There isn’t any specific theme to it. I can listen to indie music one day and then teeny bopper music depending on my mood. If people like this, I can continue to compile them every month. A link to a YouTube playlist has also been included at the bottom.

  1. Cavaliers – Adam Richman Makes His Favourite Sandwich [Link]
  2. Annasaid – Waves [Link]
  3. Crayon Pop – FM [Link]
  4. Polyphia – Hourglass (feat. Nick Sampson of I Am Abomination) [Link]
  5. Donawhale – Echo [Link]
  6. Sympathetic Frequencies – Wasteland [Link]
  7. Acrylic – I Know [Link]
  8. Ten Sleep – Yellow Paper [Link]
  9. Creephyp – エロ (Ero) [Link]
  10. Dance Gavin Dance – Legend [Link]

August 2015 Playlist

 


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Anime Expo 2015

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July 2015 was the third Anime Expo event in a row I’ve been to. Having fun and spending time with friends and family make the event so much more enjoyable. However, for everyone out there who is deciding to attend the event in the future, here are some tips on how to prepare and save some money.

1. Buy Your Tickets Early

    Tickets to the convention usually go on sale around Black Friday and are usually around half price at the time. I really screwed up this year and couldn’t decide if I wanted to go until the very last-minute. Instead of paying $50 for a 4-day pass, I ended up paying around $85.

2. Parking/Hotel

    Another money-saving tactic is planning out how you’re going to get there.
          For Locals – I recommend going early and trying to find street parking if possible behind the convention center. Cheaper to suck it up and walk a few blocks than pay $20 for parking everyday.
          Non-Locals – If you are flying in, I would see if you have any friends that live in the area and try to live there for a few days rather than book a hotel. If that’s not possible, the event is usually partnered with a number of nearby hotels where you can get free shuttle service to the event and event discounts. You will need to book these early since space is limited and thousands of attendees will also be trying to find living spaces.

3. Food/Water/Power

          Don’t die people. Prepare your meals accordingly. There are food trucks and nearby restaurants in LA Live for you to get your meals. Lines can be long and tiring so keeping a bag full of snacks to munch on will keep you from starving.
         Bringing water is a no-brainer. You will be sitting in the blazing summer all day and if you don’t keep yourself hydrated, you’re in for a real bad time.
          Those long lines where you are starving and burning sun mean you are probably going to be spending a good portion of that time on your electronic devices. Having a power bank handy will save a lot of headache. It’s not going to be fun when you get that ‘15% battery remaining’ notification and realize that you don’t have a power bank or charger handy with you.

4. Plan out your Panels/Events

          You aren’t going to have time for every single event during the expo. Keep an eye out on the schedule release and look at it as soon as you can. Pick out all the events that you want to go to and set a buffer time for waiting and getting in line. Planning ahead will ensure that you make the most of your time the 4 days you are there.
I plan to go continue attending Anime Expo in the future and these are some of the ways that I plan to save my cash. Unless you have a lot of expendable income laying around, plan ahead people.