Author Archives: tracy

BMW 5-series Diesel 2

2 months of seat time in a 5-series diesel, the overall experience is pleasurable. There are a few minor differences in comparison to my previous 3-series with a twin turbo engine.

2014 - 535d  M-package Steering Wheel

2014 – 535d M-package Steering Wheel

Let’s begin with the most absolutely enjoyable element: Fuel efficiency – I normally go about 330 miles per week, and my 3-series would require pumping gas twice a week but with the diesel … it’s only about ½ of a tank for my regular routine each week. I never enjoy making a trip to the gas station to pump gas because I would need to carefully calculate the distance with all the places that I could possibly go and squeeze time to stop by during my busy schedule; most of all, I hate the gasoline smell on my hands or the drops of gasoline running down my car eating away the paint. Thus, not having to run to the gas station as frequently is the No.1 best thing in my book.

No.2 in my book – the power of acceleration. I’m always worried about power especially when it comes the instant acceleration on occasions such as: Continue reading

The Elements of Transformative Violin Sound

Daddy's cello

Element & Weise, 2001

100+ yrs Old violin

Copy of Antonio Strad Handmade in German, 1890. Maker unknown.

Here, I’m sharing my experience on what I did with my violins as well my two cents on what to focus on when transforming a violin’s sound into either a rich deep like cello, a Phantom’s tenor voice or an angel’s voice like a soprano. The important elements for me are the bow and strings in the process of transforming both my old and young violin sound into a beautifully rich and deep yet bright sound just like a lyric soprano or tenor. Bows and strings are like a married couple that need to be able to accompany each other. And a bow will need to match the violin to obtain harmony; thus, compatibility is essential. However, what comes as the first step of sound change, bow or stings, is a personal preference. Most people will make sure the bow and violin harmonize with each other before changing anything else on the violin.  Also, I hunted for my bow before I began my string search journey. The matched bow with a violin gave me the potential sound that I set out looking for.

Sound – It’s subjective because everyone has different hearing and different expectations for sound quality: deep, rich, vibrant, bright, loud, soft, etc. In addition, there are environmental differences as well solo vs. orchestral, small concert hall vs. outdoor big concert hall such as Hollywood bowl. Thus, it’s important to decide what sound you are seeking and the planned use of the instrument. As a soloist myself (not performing regularly, and no orchestral), I tend to like a mellow, soft and more dark and rich sound for A, D, and G strings but seek a mellow, soft and clean sound, not bright or crispy, for the E string.

Bow – Different shapes project a different sound. In general an octagon shape is able to give a bold, assertive Ethan with violin 2sound as opposed to a round shape which gives a softer, mellower sound. I started on a student grade octagon bow and moved to a better quality handmade octagon bow. It took me a year to find my current bow which has a round shape and is old, handmade and has a well balanced weight from tip to frog. Continue reading

New vs. Old Instrument

Does a New or Old instrument sound better?

Boesendorfer Piano

Boesendorfer Piano

I believe it’s every musician’s dream to own an astonishingly great crafted instrument such as a Bösendorfer, Steinway, Stradivari, Bergonzi, or Gadliano. And as a violinist myself, I can only dream to be able to feel the body of an Italian handmade Stradivari violin and maybe, just maybe, to gently pluck one of its strings to enjoy the legendary father of perfection and that astounding sound.

Red "Mendelssohn" Violin by Antonio Stradivari  My favorite

Red “Mendelssohn” Violin by Antonio Stradivari
My favorite


I was educated that an older string instrument was much better than a new one because the wood needs the vibration coming from the string to break it in.  On the contrary, it’s brand new instruments when it comes piano, and it needs to be black, 6’ or 7’ foot grand piano.  Restored Steinway piano has never been on my purchase list. J

I was ecstatic when this research article was released. The researcher’s finding definitely gives younger generation players a hope and great encouragement to carry on with their passion about music knowing that they can make great sound whether they play on a $2M of Stradivari violin or a $1000 student violin.


The study was led by Dr. Fritz, a flautist and a musical acoustics researcher and his research team at Piere and Marie Curie University in Paris. The concept was not to deny the work and sound of the maestros Stradivari or Guarneri del Gesu, or many other great instruments makers nor to promo new modern instruments as better than the older ones. It just simply wanted to show all the soloists that everyone can generate an astounding sound regardless of the value or the age of the violin. The research procedures were to ask Continue reading

BMW 5-Series Diesel Engine

Excited, Nervous, and Sad when I’m driving a brand new 535d.

535d 2

Sadness – ditching my all time loved 3-series for a 5-series for the first time since my very first BMW in 1995.

Nervous – the size difference between 3 series and 5 series, not sure if I can still have the same driving experience as a 3-series, and parking in tight spots have a greater chance of getting a door ding. Diesel, with its 400 lb-ft of torque versus 300 lb-ft of torque in the 535i, does give me more instant acceleration than I’ve always enjoyed from the 3-series. The big question is would the brake system give me the same bite and quick response and would the car perform that awesome fast, tight turn at 50-65mph on a curved road.

Excited – ☺ a brand new car equipped with most of my wanted high tech options and driving performance packages except the premium sound system. Let me tell you that “NEW CAR” smell is sooo refreshing.

Welcome to my opinion and experience driving BMW’s new (at least to us here in the US) diesel technology Continue reading

National Dog Day!!!

I sure didn’t know anything about National Dog Day until today. I’m so pleased to know that there is a national day to celebrate or remember our 4 legged friends.   They truly are man’s best friend!

I’m so excited to share all my 4 legged babies that have been a part of our family the past 20 years, including the newest additions…

Jester, lived with us for almost 11 yrs. Passed away 2008

Jester 2

Poeka, 7yrs younger than Jester, meant as Jester’s companion but Poeka sees Jester more like his father. Passed away 2010


Tubby, 5 yrs younger than Poeka.  Playmate/sibling/companion for Poeka after we lost Jester.  Poeka lost his meaning for living until Tubby joined our family.  Passed away 2012

Tubby - Enjoy the scene

Tubby – Enjoy the scene


Chippy/Lulu – litter mates: brother and sister. We couldn’t walk away with just one puppy home because Chippy seems so inseparable from Lulu. Will be celebrating their 2 yr old birthday in just 2 months.

on the road with puppies 2

Lulu Chippy

Goddess Garden Organic Aerosol Mechanism

Goddess Garden Organic – SunnyBody SPF30 Sport Spray

Lately, we have encountered a technical difficulty with Goddess Garden Organic Sport Spray aerosol mechanism. 2 bottles in a row and both brand new, the cap got “stuck”, not able to press down to initiate the aerosol mechanism to Sunny_Body_6oz_Sport_Continuous_Spray_Sunscreen_Organic_Broad_Spectrum_Natural__54575.1396029856.280.407spray out the sun screen out. At first, I thought maybe I didn’t turn the cap all the way to the “open” position, but NO that’s not the case. What a shame!!! It’s the best sun block cream with the highest zinc oxide% in spray form.

We cannot figure it out why and how the cap got stuck. The only explanation that I have is that Zinc Oxide has a very dense creamy texture, and since the % of ZnO is high for a aerosol mechanism that it might be a challenge to ensure the spray system works properly.

One good thing is that we are able to exchange with another new battle of Sport Spray from Whole Foods http://www.wholefoodsmarket. Thanks to their phenomenal customer service.

PS. I used the new one that we exchanged; however, it sprays out as a thin stream and nothing came out after 3 sprays. I actually turned the cap on/off, and luckily it worked this time. On that note, I think the production of this batch might not have the same quality checks as ones that we had before.

I shall post my experiences and questions on the company’s website.

Sisley, Paris Finale

Legendary Phytocosmetology

Part III

Now, we are entering my favorite section of skin care – Moisturizer aka daytime/nighttime products … hope my experience can enlighten your reading pleasure

Sisley – Moisturizer with Cucumber

Sisley Moisturizer with CucumberThis the first daytime cream that I used when I first learned about Sisley. I was living in severe air polluted and hot climate city during my early 20s, my skin is extremely dry and sensitive; therefore, the Sisley cosmetic consultant recommended that I give “cucumber” a try. The nature of cucumber tends to calm and cool the skin and gives the skin a moment to breath the freshness of water content from the cucumber. The lightly watery creamy texture of the daytime cream is perfect for using during summer and improves dehydrated skin. It is not rich enough (moisture level) during the winter especially if you are living in a dry, windy, cold climate.

Sisley – Hydra-Global Intense Hydra-Global

I talked about this particular product in my “Dehydration“ post. What makes this one so unique is the anti-aging and anti wrinkle feature. As you probably sensed, I’m no longer in my 20s so my skin needs have shifted to a different level. To prevent and slow down wrinkles and the aging process in particular with dehydrated skin, it’s important that each product contain some sort of anti-aging and anti-wrinkle active ingredients. The gel/fluid like texture allows skin to absorb it quickly, the combination formula of all the active plant ingredients and essential oils successfully slow down Continue reading

Sisley, Paris (Part 2)

Legendary Phytocosmetology

Part II

Sisley – Express Flower Gel Mask

Sisley Express Flower GelHonestly, I don’t love this product but nothing negative to say about it. I have tons of this product in travel size as well as full size. I don’t necessary see any big results or effects on my skin except it gives “hydration” and freshness from fatigue. The fact is that it’s so easy to use; my husband and I always carry one travel size to our hot tub spa to use it on our face while we are enjoying the jet tub and the steam room.


Sisley – Radiant Glow Express Mask Radiant Glow Express Mask

I got the pleasure to use this product for the very first time only 2 weeks ago. Without reading any directions and solely based on my experience with Sisley products, I quickly put it on right after I cleaned up my face and stepped into Sauna room Continue reading

Sisley, Paris (Part 1)

Legendary Phytocosmetology

Part 1

I was shocked to read Paula’s choice post reviewing a Sisley product while I was sharing my own experience on several different brands of skin care products including Sisley products at

First, all Sisley products do contain fragrance but the smell is light and subtle that actually brightens up your senses, and I haven’t heard anyone including myself have any irritation or any kind of allergic reaction from using of any Sisley product. Second, each Sisley product is tailored for a specific action to the skin based on each plant’s unique active chemical properties and by combining with other plants extracts to achieve the optimization of the specific action for various types of skin conditions and skin needs in each different life stage. It’s safe and natural which is perfect for those who have sensitive skin or easy to have allergic reactions. And, YES, I do agree with Paula that the price is extremely expensive, and the price has gone up enormously over the 20 years of my usage. The following are a list of products that my family members and myself have been using for at least 20+ years and continue to use.


Sisley – Floral Toning Lotion

Sisley Floral Toning Lotion

Excellent toning lotion. I normally use it after cleaning my face or after a long flight. The fragrance smells so smoothing, and it also moisturizes and refreshes your skin. I also used it to remove facial milk cleanser; my mom Continue reading

After July 4th weekend

Hope everyone enjoyed the 3 day July 4th weekend and is well rested now.

Have you noticed that is under some major upgrades to provide a better user experience? Therefore, please excuse the delay of new post(s) during the upcoming week or two.

Thanks for coming to!