The umbrella machine

More from my trip…

On the way back, we had a brief stop in Hong Kong. Yes, there was an umbrella vending machine at the ferry station. I was amazed at that. But it wasn’t till I got home and looked closer at the photo that I discovered the machine had a TV screen, showing a video that featured those umbrellas’ benefits.

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Weird signs

I loved these signs. The top one looks like a pregnant lady’s tummy is radiating heat. (Real meaning — give your seat up for pregnant ladies.) The bottom sign looks like if you push the button, fire will come out at you. (Real meaning — fire alarm.)

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China is better than you think

China gets a bad rap for how bad it is, environmentally. Their negative reputation is true in some cases — but not all.

A few weeks ago, I was in Hong Kong (admittedly the most western-leaning part of China… but still China). I saw this great sign on a container for plastic utensils. Starbucks was simply asking the potential user to consider going without — for the sake of the environment. I’ve never seen that in the States (in the case of plastic utensils).

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A minority again

Ever been a minority on a crowd? I don’t mean, “I like that kind of music and no one else does”. I mean minority in the racial sense.

Since I was born with white skin and euro-features, I am part of the majority in the USA. This is swiftly changing, as other racial groups are having more babies than euro-types.

I never knew what it was like to stand out in a crowd until we moved to Africa. It’s a strange feeling to have people look at you and think, “He’s different.”

I just returned from about a week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — a big modern city of about 7.2 million people (including the surrounding areas). The Malay are the majority, with about 60% of the population. Chinese are roughly 30%. East Indians come in at approximately 10%. And caucasians are maybe 1% or less.

I found it healthy to experience a little prejudice — in small doses. It helped me realize that I’m small.

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Vuka: social media success

Some of you may remember back a few days when I said some negative things about Vuka, a natural energy drink.

I take back what I said! I still sort of stand by what I said about aluminum thickness — but their incredible attention to customers’ needs is enough to easily win over this hard heart.

They read my review and left a thoughtful comment. Then they contacted me and sent a package over… via courier… with t-shirts, stickers, and several samples of the drink. So I have tried it — and it tastes great. It’s a great concept — the first healthy energy drink that I’ve heard of. (I have only tried one Monster drink — and it was close to drinking cough syrup. The chemicals contained in Monster are not necessarily things I like flowing through my bloodstream… not that I’m Mr. Healthy.)

So check out Vuka. Especially if you’re into energy drinks.

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It tastes better

…when you do it yourself.

We planted an apple tree in our back yard, maybe six years ago. This year is the first where we got any significant apples out of the deal. And though they were small, they tasted great.

What is something that you did lately that gave more satisfaction than if you had just bought it?

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Cool but wasteful

Vuka. It’s a new-to-me “Intelligent Energy Drink”. My 14-year old son bought it because he thought the bottle was cool. And it is.

However, his comment on what was inside: “pretty disgusting”. He also described it as a “fake energy drink”.

My take: the container is hugely wasteful. The bottle is heavy-gauge aluminum and must have accounted for half of the cost of the product. If the lid were up to the same standard of permanence, it would be a nice thing to hang onto. But it will probably last for about two refills and then strip out. Sad.

Update: See some interesting comments and a rebuttal in the comments.

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On Connection, Meaningless to Almost Anyone

This is a Guest Post. Elizabeth Howard writes poetry on demand on a Olivetti Lettera 33, and refuses to believe the internet is a gutter for poorly constructed metaphors and overly-bullet-pointedness. If you agree, read more, comment more at her blog, “Letters from a Small State.”

I tweet. Because if I leave the keyboard, I have to subtract myself from the safety of limitless connection.

Blind, ever-pulsating links between me and a perfect unknown.

You know: what Simonpegg or mommywantsvodka are chattering on about at 9:37 p.m. scratches a certain itch. Ahhhhh.

And it deflects. Very nicely. From the complicated love that burrows down. Love that lingers and love that is canyon-width and acid edges, but isn’t all that interesting. Aged and unattainable. Grizzled and drinking beer with its feet on my coffee table.

So, then it’s Us Weekly tweets to soothe the soul — from the constant berating of Not-Us Daily.  Life hiding its regalement in banality. That is to say: rotten-fierce love between two people who are ordinary.

I facebook to imagine myself on the wings of electricity, a fairy of fiberoptics.

I lace my imagined self with curiously tangled and dementedly true details. Meaningless to almost anyone.

To everyone but the most ordinary, steel-toed lover.

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No Ping

Ping is a music-matching thing that Apple bought up and added to version 10 of iTunes.

I don’t like it. Problems?

1. All the bands I like are too obscure to even be on Ping’s list.

2. My kids’ buy music through my iTunes account. (Don’t worry — it’s with their money!) I’ll simply say that their tastes in music are different than mine.

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