April 20, 2017 § Leave a comment
One great piece of furniture we miss from our time overseas is our storage bed. It had a platform under the mattress that lifted up on gas pistons to reveal a storage area underneath. I’ve seen a couple versions of the same design here in the US, but in Taipei we were able to go to a store down the street, give them our measurements, and get one made to our specifications and delivered to our apartment—for a great price.
On the great plains of the Midwest, we’re not as concerned about saving space as people are in highly populated cities. But as they say, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” so there are plenty of folks in tight places who’ve invented their own space savers.
One company that’s doing its part is Canada-based Expand Furniture. Here’s a video that gives a sampling of what they offer:
And then there’s Resource Furniture, out of New York City. I particularly like their hide-a-bunk-bed at 2:52.
Singapore’s Spaceman has their own collection, too, including a pull-down “ceiling bed,” at 1:55.
And from Germany, here’s a quirky little film on a quirky little table. (Or is it a painting on the wall?) At its Vimeo site there’s a description that could fit most of the furniture shown in this post. I don’t think it was originally written in English, but that makes it all the better:
The underlying innovation is: its inventive folding mechanism, the evoked astonishment due to the second-to-second transformation of the room situation, the easy handling and the therewith connected pleasure of converting, the particular invisibility of the currently not used version as well as the newfound use of space diversity.
Krispy Kreme: Going Global with a Strategy That’s Full of Holes . . . and Topped with Green-Tea Icing
March 17, 2017 § 2 Comments
In September of 2015, CNN posted a story with the horrifying headline “Krispy Kreme Krashes”! (exklamation point mine), announcing that KKD stock had dropped 12% following poor sales and earnings reports. The problem? Lackluster profits on their packaged doughnuts sold outside their Krispy Kreme stores. The solution? Opening more Krispy Kreme stores overseas.
Fast forward to today, and the eatery has outlets in over 25 countries. That means fewer people making overseas Krispy Kreme runs and wondering if they can get their purchases through airport security and transport them as carry ons.
It also means plenty of new creations to appeal to global palates. Take, for instance, the new “premium” doughnuts at Krispy Kreme Japan, which, RocketNews24 reports, just became available this month. They include the Premium Matcha Azuki, filled with green-tea flavored whipped cream and red-bean paste and topped with matcha green-tea icing; and also the Premium Sakura, which has a multi-layered filling of cherry paste, strawberry-raspberry-cranberry puree, and whipped cream. (If either of those sound good to you, you’ll need to head over to the Krispy Kreme JR Nagoya Takashimaya store in Aichi Prefecture in the next few weeks—it’s a limited-time offer.)
Seeing that news got me wondering what else one can find at Krispy Kremes far and wide. And so that you don’t have to wonder, too, here’s a list of some of the tasty offerings from Krispy Kremes around the world.
My mouth is watering as I type. . . .
- Australia: Cola Fizz
- Cambodia: Mango
- Canada: Caramel Kreme Crunch
- Colombia: Chocolate Explosion
- Dominican Republic: Nutty Cocoa Ring (topped with Nutella)
- India: Vanilla Bean Latte
- Indonesia: PB & J
- Japan: Cheer Dance Twinkle
- Korea: Strawberry Glutinous Rice
- Malaysia: Kit Kat with White Chocolate
- Mexico: Cookie Pop (with popcorn)
- Middle East (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAE): Hazelnut Dreamcake
- Philippines: Snickerdoodle
- Puerto Rico: Guava Cheese
- Russia: Cranberry with Sugar
- Singapore: Cappuccino Franco
- South Africa: Bar One
- Taiwan: Strawberry Dark Chocolate
- Thailand: Karamel Almond Krunch
- Turkey: Doughnut with Ice Cream
- United Kingdom: Lotus Caramelized Biscoff
(Paul La Monica, “Krispy Kreme Krashes,” CNN Money, September 10, 2015; Oona McGee, “New Krispy Kreme Premium Range Includes Sakura and Matcha Green Tea Doughnut Cakes,” RocketNews24, March 8, 2017)
[photo: “Free for All,” by Bokeh-licious, used under a Creative Commons license]
January 4, 2017 § Leave a comment
At the age of nine, in 1920, Tyrus Wong left Guangdong Province in China, boarding a ship bound for San Francisco with his father. To get around restrictive American immigration policies, the pair used fake identities to gain entrance to the US. Wong later attended art school and as an adult joined Disney as an inbetweener, drawing fill-in artwork between main animation frames. Then, when the studio was creating Bambi, Wong’s landscape paintings, influenced by the style of the Song Dynasty, became the driving force for the film’s breakthrough look. Though not given much credit at the time for his contributions, in 2001 he was officially named a Disney Legend. Wong died last Saturday, at the age of 106.
Below are four short videos, piecing together aspects of Wong’s life. The first is a trailer for the 2015 documentary Tyrus. The second tells about Wong’s ordeal at the Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco Bay. The third details his work on Bambi. And the last shares the story behind his art.
August 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
“The Public Shaming of England’s First Umbrella User”
In the early 1750s, an Englishman by the name of Jonas Hanway, lately returned from a trip to France, began carrying an umbrella around the rainy streets of London.
. . . . . .
Hanway was the first man to parade an umbrella unashamed in 18th-century England, a time and place in which umbrellas were strictly taboo. In the minds of many Brits, umbrella usage was symptomatic of a weakness of character, particularly among men. Few people ever dared to be seen with such a detestable, effeminate contraption. To carry an umbrella when it rained was to incur public ridicule.
The British also regarded umbrellas as too French—inspired by the parasol, a Far Eastern contraption that for centuries kept nobles protected from the sun, the umbrella had begun to flourish in France in the early 18th century. . . . Later British umbrella users reported being called “mincing Frenchm[e]n” for carrying them in public.
Michael Walters, Atlas Obscura, July 27, 2016
July 13, 2016 § Leave a comment
The verdict is in. Yesterday, an international tribunal in the Hague sided with the Philippines, ruling that China cannot lay claim to most of the South China Sea. As expected, Chinese President Xi Jinping is dismissing the decision out of hand, stating that China has no intentions of complying.
How can the most populous nation on earth ignore the Permanent Court of Arbitration? That’s easy. It’s because China is taking its case to another court . . . the court of public opinion. And what better way to sway the jury than through viral videos (or at least videos that they’d like to go viral)?
Exhibit A: In June, China released the video below to win hearts and minds around the globe. It’s title is the rhetorical question “Who Is Stirring Up Trouble in the South China Sea?” My favorite lines are
Do you want to buy the most fashionable clothes or electronic devices with the state-of-the-art technology? You’d better pray for the peace and safety of the ocean.
And then there are these words from the mouth of Uncle Sam:
From the next two videos, we can see that the apparent target demographic is young, hip, cool, and English speaking . . . kind of like you and me. And the spokespeople are international students in Beijing and a cartoon band that looks like a modern version of the gang from Scooby Doo singing on top of the Mystery Machine.
I can laugh, but then again, they got me to watch a video about China’s five-year economic plan!
[photo: “Courtroom One Gavel,” by Joe Gratz, public domain]
April 27, 2016 § Leave a comment
One thing often leads to another. . . .
While I was working on the topic of Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, I found the Global Musician Workshop, which led me to Maeve Gilchrist, which led me to Nic Gareiss. Scotland-born Gilchrist is an improvisational folk-jazz-fusion harpist. Gareiss is a Michigan-born percussive dancer.
I didn’t know there was such a thing as a percussive dancer. Not only do I like the clapping and the stepping, but I’m impressed with a harpist who can play so beautifully and push her hair off her face without missing a note.
So what other kinds of percussive dancers are there?
Well, there’s Step Africa!
There’s Riverdance, here gearing up for their 20th anniversary tour.
There’s Flamenco dancing—with Maria Pages.
And finally, I found the Egyptian group The Percussion Show.
To percussive feet, all the world’s a drum.
February 9, 2016 § Leave a comment
“How the World Sees American Football: Foreign Students Throw the Pigskin”
The glee of Maximilian Bushe of Berlin could have been used for a billboard to advertise the clinic. He had run a pass pattern as if he were a wide receiver in the American game. He snatched the ball thrown to him and scored a make-believe touchdown. He was overjoyed, almost breathless as he stood with the ball he held out in front of him with two hands. The Georgia Tech football players—the real ones helping conduct the clinic—made a boisterous scene of cheering around him for his catch.
Then Bushe did what any good American football player would do. He did an end zone celebration, a little dance.
“I am just surprised I caught the football,” he said, smiling wide. “A little bit is OK, right?” he asked about celebrating. No, not really. In the NCAA, what he did would earn a yellow flag and 15-yard penalty for excessive celebration.
. . . . . .
“Back home, they think it’s boring, and that’s totally wrong,” Bushe said. “We don’t know anything about it in Germany. We just see it in the movies—somebody has the ball, and 20 people jump on him and pile up in a big, big tower. Once you get the whole game, it gets really interesting. You watch the game and cheer for your team, and it’s awesome.”
Ray Glier, Aljazeera America, April 25, 2015