eating meat in the U.S.

While I was in China, I became a little (!) educated about factory farming. And I vowed that when I came back to the U.S., I would become an ethical meat eater (well, as ethical as you can be as a meat eater) —  which would not be an easy option while living in China.

So now that I am back in the US of A, I’ve been seeking out free range chickens and eggs and all that good stuff. I often wonder if companies with clever packaging and liberal interpretation of words like “organic” and “no cage” are pulling a fast one on me. Because I am an ideal target for manipulative marketing: I’ve read and heard enough nightmare stories to know that the likes of KFC and Tyson are no good, but I’m too lazy to do thorough research on brands that claim to be better. I imagine there are a lot of consumers like me out there.

I’m taking the lazy approach and trusting Whole Foods for now. I’ve noticed that WF has this new (well, it’s new for me, maybe not for the rest of you) Animal Welfare Rating that tells you how the animal you’re about to consume has been raised, handled, and transported. You can read all about it here and here — it appears that the the ratings range from 1 through 5+, and higher is better. I do wish they made more of an effort to educate the consumers about the significance of these ratings, because I had to come home and use Google to figure out what the whole thing meant. Couldn’t they put up a sign or something near the meat section of the store? Why does everything need to be Googled these days?

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wtf moment of the day: “18 Again” from India

There are not enough WTFs in the world to describe this commercial for 18 Again, a “vaginal tightening and rejuvenating cream” that supposedly makes couples want to prance around the family courtyard singing about how they feel like virgins again. I don’t know what to say about this except WTF WTF WTF (repeat repeat repeat…).

You should really visit the website. It has an amazing FAQ section, which includes this gem:  Continue reading

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Ace Power from Korea

Ohmygod, Korea is killing me with these weird weight loss/fitness contraptions. This one is called Ace Power, and it’s supposed to give you the workout benefits of horseback riding. Which sounds fine, except… it looks like this. And you thought the Shake Weight was bad, huh? Continue reading

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elevators at The Gap in Hong Kong

Every time I go to The Gap in Hong Kong Central, I shake my head at this elevator on the lower level of the store. Can you see in this picture what I might be complaining about?

Yes, the stairs. THE STAIRS that you have to go down after you take the elevator to the lower level. I’ve seen many helpless moms struggle with their babies’ strollers down these seven steps after they get off the elevator. And I don’t even know what you’d do if you were in a wheelchair. Maybe you just hang out on the landing and point to the stuff while a salesperson runs around fetching them for you?

The Husband, who is much more forgiving than I, thinks that there must be some really good reason why they did this. Some kind of structural challenge that wouldn’t allow the elevator be built down to the ground level. Well, that’s probably true; no idiot would intentionally design something like this, but then couldn’t they add a ramp or something???

On the brighter side, the stairs seem to serve as a nice resting area for pregnant ladies and bored kids. I’ve always believed that it is important for retail spaces to include areas for customers/their companions to stop and catch their breath. Because shopping is exhausting, y’all.

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“Yeah, that’s not a good idea”

Motorbikes in China are like clown cars — there’s  no limit to the number of passengers they can hold. This one, from a photograph taken by The Husband’s new friend Stephen Woolverton (that he aptly titled, “Yeah, that’s not a good idea”), seems to have five riders, but who knows? There might be a couple more children dangling on the other side. BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW IN CHINA.

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Chinese food for Koreans

A Chinese restaurant in Seoul -- my dad has been a loyal customer here for about 40 years.

FYI if you’re on the prowl for some Chinese food in Korea: Chinese food in Korea Chinese food in America Chinese food in China. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.

Describing Chinese food in China is too complicated (and I also don’t know much, despite living in China for the past year), so let me just tell you what I know about the Chinese food in Korea/Koreatown. Because it is almost like its own cuisine that is inspired by Chinese dishes but has evolved over many decades to appeal to the Korean palate. Instead of kung pao chicken and fried lo mein, you’ll find the following dishes on the menu: Continue reading

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“The Hunger Games” poster in China

“The Hunger Games” was never released in China, but that has not kept the Chinese people from ripping off the movie poster. Prominently displayed all over Shenzhen are these ads for Suning, a major Chinese electronics retailer. Katniss and Peeta are pasted all over elevators and subway platforms, unwittingly promoting electronic appliances at cheap prices all over Shenzen.

I say “unwittingly,” because I’m taking a huge leap here and assuming that Suning has not been authorized to use the movie posters to sell TVs and headphones.

This is weird to me on many levels.

1. What does “The Hunger Games”/Jennifer Lawrence/Katniss have to do with selling electronics?

2. OK, so let’s assume that the connection between electronics and THG is not important. Maybe they just want to ride the coattails of the movie’s success. But nobody I met in China seems to have heard of “The Hunger Games.” And Jennifer Lawrence is not very well-known in China. So… this image would be a little lost on the Chinese consumers, no?

3. Where did they find this image? What were they thinking when they decided to rip it off in the ads? How is it that even a company as big as Suning seems to have no consideration for intellectual property? I mean, seriously, why do they have to live up to the stereotypes so darn frequently?

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ask and ye shall receive

The last time we were in Hong Kong, The Husband and I made a spontaneous decision to go see a movie. I say it was spontaneous, because we usually bring sweaters and jackets with us, as it is usually, like, 50°F in those theaters.

So right as we were preparing ourselves for 2 hours of teeth chattering, TH decided to ask an attendant if the theater had any blankets. I thought it was a pretty dumb idea (why would theaters have blankets?), but strangely enough, they said yes! So we put down a $200 HKD deposit and borrowed two fleece blankets that kept us warm through the show.

So I guess the moral of the story here is that when you need something, you should always ask? This is an important lesson, because I hate asking for things. Also: I feel that I now need to investigate the availability of blankets at movie theaters. Do all HK theaters have blankets or just the one we went to? What about theaters in the US? Or other parts of Asia? And how many blankets to do they keep at each theater? I am also curious to find out if they clean the blankets after each use. (I really hope so)

Anyway, if all movie theaters do have blankets, they should really start marketing that service better and maybe even charge a little for it. And if they don’t, theaters really should start, because I can tell you that that is a major pain point for most movie-goers I know.

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Buttocks Bras in Korea

When we were in Seoul last month, we came across a shop selling this amazing product — Buttocks Bra! It’s so weird and awesome that I wish I’d tried it (for, you know, research), but I didn’t think that was possible without actually buying the product or getting fat-shamed by a Buttocks Bra consultant. So I could only check it out on-line at

So what did I learn about the Buttocks Bra?

As its name implies, the Buttocks Bra is  a bra for your butt, and it is worn as an undergarment. It claims to be a miracle product that will soon take over the whole wide world. The ad on the left says, “A Butterfly’s Dream. Believe. That before long, everyone will surely be wearing this kind of ‘under’wear…”

Also: Despite that weird image in the ad, the Buttocks Bra actually does not look like a regular old bra stretched across your ass. Although I really wish it did.  Continue reading

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food safety in China

Food safety in China is no joke — and it’s not a concern that’s limited to a handful of paranoid foreigners. It’s something that Chinese people also discuss constantly. Every other day, my coworkers would warn me about some random beverage or snack that killed someone and whether a restaurant uses “bad oil” (a.k.a. “gutter oil“), etc.

Even still, I was pretty shocked when I read this report by AsiaInspection, a quality control company based in Shenzhen and Hong Kong:

AsiaInspection figures show in 2011 51% of food inspections conducted in Mainland China failed. While the majority of these inspections were failed because of minor defects, 10% were for critical defects with an extreme case involving contamination by a large quantity of rodent fecal matter. The fact that over half of all Chinese food inspections fail is even more alarming when compared to an average failure rate for non-food products of about 30%….

Food safety is not limited to only the food itself. Food packaging, with a 2011 inspection failure rate of 57% is just as critical. “Food packaging defects may not seem critical,” says Sebastien Breteau, CEO of AsiaInspection. “But by the time food leaves the factory and hits store shelves, toxic amounts of contaminants like formaldehyde and lead can leech out of packaging, contaminate food and cause serious harm to consumers.”

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