The Saddening Plight of the Lowliest Kitchen Utensil

Photo from Flickr user, Gelzerman

Hey there! Remember me? We met at the grocery store five years ago, right after you moved into that new apartment. You were picking up some Ben and Jerry’s for your date night when you bumped into me while I was hanging out on a hook by the freezer aisle. At first it was just a sidewards glance; I was sure you would just keep going and never look back. It’s okay, I understand. Measuring cups seem to get all the attention these days but you know how they are. Never there when you need them. Always getting lost, then you have to go find them only to realize they’ve been used by someone else. Caked in some sort of super-adhesive, animal feces-looking substance… And that’s if you’re lucky! Most times they’ll just up and leave within a month of moving in––and without even a word! But I digress…

Apparently something about me caught your eye. Maybe it was my chromed scoop; ever so lustrous and curvaceous. So shiny it could give Rudy Giuliani’s forehead a run for its money! Or maybe it was the allure of my scoop release lever. With a flick of your thumb, it ejects any number of frozen treat from my clutches no matter how sticky it may be. How could you possibly resist this new-fangled technology? Oh how I wish you had chosen me for either of those features, or even my ribbed, silicone grip; but alas, I know this is not the case. I was on sale at the right time and place.

You and your beau had just moved in together and were purchasing ice cream but realized you had no way of scooping it––or so you told yourself. Let’s be honest for a second; I’d like to believe that you chose me because I filled a need in your life but what actually caught your eye was my price tag. Only $8 for all this functionality and what’s this? Made in France! Oh what a steal I was for you. You probably called up your friends, bragging about what a good deal I was. Treating me like a prized possession… “I am useful!” I thought triumphantly, “This person has given me purpose in my meager existence” little did I know the fate that was to befall me.
Sure you used me that night. Cherry Garcia, was it? And maybe a few times in the weeks immediately following. Okay, I admit it. I remember each scoop like it was yesterday! Cherry Garcia, Phish Food, Karamel Sutra, and… that’s it. You’ve ignored me ever since, eating ice cream with spoons like the uncouth animals you are. Five. Whole. Years I’ve sat idle.

Since then, you got married and got a bunch of other crap as “presents”. There I sit: day in, day out in the furthest corner of your utensil drawer. Watching in agony as you reach for the vegetable peeler or the citrus zester or even the goddamn garlic crusher! What the fucking fuck––you don’t know how to use a fucking chef’s knife? You didn’t buy me because you needed me, you bought me because I was… cheap! I feel like a dirty whore except I can’t even turn tricks; you won’t let me. I’m an Ostrich, I need to run! Across the plains of french vanilla and Neapolitan, taking in all my surroundings and presenting them in a semi-regular hemisphere! I’m suffocating in here and you don’t even care. No one cares!

Maybe someday you’ll have kids and you’ll need more space. Maybe you’ll move out of this dingy place. Maybe while you’re packing you’ll see me here: neglected, rusting, covered in dust. Maybe you’ll take pity on me and clean me up and take me with you. Maybe you’ll even remember to take me out at the kids’ birthday parties so that their scoops look extra special one day out of the year. But let’s be honest, you’ll probably throw me out along with the melon baller, the melted spatula, and the Slapchop. I’ll wind up in a landfill somewhere because your dumb ass was too lazy to recycle me. I’ll look up into the blue sky for the last time before I’m covered with more perfectly functional yet totally useless crap, and that will be that. Until you go to buy ice cream again and realize you don’t have an ice cream scoop but what’s this? It’s on sale for only $8? How could you pass this up!

Happy Holidays!

In the next week or so, many of you will be heading over to your relatives’ houses. Your mom and dad will be there, so will grandma and grandpa, maybe even your great aunt and uncle. They’ll all be dressed differently, maybe some will have aged better than others but every single one of them will have something in common: they’ll all want your tech advice. We all like making jokes about how old people can’t use technology and we like to complain about how hard it is to teach them. Although this is often the case, just think back to why you even bothered trying in the first place.The following story took place over the most recent Thanksgiving break; my first time home from college. I hope that you may take a thing or two away from my story and remember what the holidays are truly about.

“What’s the difference between this youtube and that youtube?” Grandma says in sing-song Mandarin pointing to the two icons on her new iPad.

“One is the app and one is a bookmark to the website” I try to explain. Of course to her, there was no difference between the two.

She asks for the third time: “So which one can I watch Chinese soap operas on?”

“Neither!” I reply, thoroughly exasperated. At this point I’ve reached the limit of my feeble Mandarin vocabulary. I continue in broken Chinglish along the lines of, “It’s illegal putting company’s show on internet. The government lawsuit sea-pirates if they steal television!” I look up at her and she’s still as confused as ever; I’m frustrated with her and at my inability to communicate such a basic concept in my mother-tongue.
Grandma sighs as do I–we’ve been here before.

We got her the iPad for mothers’ day hoping that she could use it to finally learn “the internet”. After all, there were literally several documented instances of septuagenarians all around the world figuring out the thing on their own. As far as personal experience goes, let’s just say there’s a reason why every old person isn’t foaming at the mouth to get one.

This is at least the third time I’ve tried to teach her to use the iPad but all she wants to do with it is watch soap operas with it. At one point I dug up a few episodes on youtube which subsequently convinced her that every show must be iPad accessible somewhere on the internet. No matter how hard I tried, there was no way I could convince her otherwise–so I gave up.

I gave up on the grandmother who had just spent her afternoon making me dinner. The same woman who travelled across the world to take care of me because my parents were working full time and couldn’t do so themselves. My grandma who left behind the rest of her family and all her friends to make sure I would grow up safe and healthy. I gave up on her because I was frustrated that she couldn’t figure out an iPad. I felt miserable, but you know who didn’t? Grandma.

After fuming for half a minute, I looked up again at her and there she was; still smiling, eyes twinkling. “I’m sorry I don’t understand this, maybe I’m just too old” she said with a chuckle.” I had no words; what could I do but hug her tightly and hope she understands I’m sorry for everything. When I think back to all she’s done for me I realize that I will never be able to pay her back. The least I could do is try my best to teach her how to “internet”. But even if I fail, which inevitably will be the case; it really is the thought that counts.

Two Words:

Home tomorrow.

Batshit Insane

I’m not sure if you can tell, but that is a picture of a bat. No I didn’t touch it. It did however almost touch me. In fact, it flew right over my head; so close that I could’ve sworn it touched my hair. It then proceeded to crash headfirst into the brick wall in this picture at which point it collapsed in a heap on the ground which is where I took its picture. Unsure of what to do, I just stared at it for a little while. Eventually it started moving and after a few minutes, regained its ability to fly. Back it launched into the fading twilight in the spastic manner that bats fly. I followed it with my eyes thinking that it was lucky to be alive until mere seconds later, it was t-boned at 40 miles per hour by the glowing pyramid of a taxicab.

Perfection Does Not Even Begin to Describe This

Rural Anhui (Xun Cun) in Pictures

The Price is Wrong

Taken in a designated "no smoking" area

The year is 2001 and the Czech Republic is considering levying an exorbitant tax on cigarettes to encourage smokers to quit. Facing the possibility of declining future profits, Phillip Morris commissions and sends a report to the Czech government detailing the benefits of smoking. Benefits? Yes, benefits. But not what you’re thinking about.

This report wasn’t about how cool you look when you smoke or how smooth and tasty Marlboros are. In fact, the report was mostly about how terrible tobacco is for one’s health and well being. It outright admitted that cigarettes are carcinogenic and are linked to early death. It then proceeded to argue that this was in fact, a good thing. The money saved in un-cashed pensions, healthcare, and housing for the elderly more than made up for the costs of premature death. Basically, Phillip Morris was saying that if people smoke, they’ll die sooner so the government won’t have to pay to take care of them and that these savings would add up to more revenue than the new tax would take in. Never mind that the report was based on highly selective data and has since been discredited by independent analyses–the very idea that it was commissioned in the first place is grounds for moral outrage. Thankfully, the Czech Republic was unswayed by this testimony and succeeded in raising its tobacco taxes. Phillip Morris later issued a public apology and admitted that it was immoral to commission the analysis in the first place. Even so, this information was out there and there was no turning back.

For now though, let’s leave PM alone and talk about something completely different: China’s One Child Policy. Introduced in 1978, it was China’s answer to its overpopulation problem. Aptly named, it limited the number of allowable children per couple to one. At the time, this seemed like a good idea and it has been prodigiously successful in achieving its goal of curbing population growth. It’s estimated that it prevented over 250 million births between its introduction and the year 2000. But now as the parents of these single children age, they are reaching the time for retirement which poses a whole new problem.

Traditionally, it has been up to the children to take care of their parents in their old age. This is not such a huge burden when split between two or three siblings but when one married couple must support for two parents from each bloodline, the weight can often become too much to bear. So what to do? The truth is, no one knows. Much like Social Security in the USA, the system is broken and seemingly unfixable. Or so it appears.

As previously mentioned, the findings of Phillip Morris’ “Death Benefit” analysis are out there for all to see and evidently, there are those who have seen and it. Having lived in China for almost two months, my biggest pet peeve (besides transportation) is definitely the omnipresent cigarette smoke. Coincidentally, cigarettes are dirt cheap and compared to other countries, leniently taxed (40% vs 60% world average). While the government claims to want to deter smoking, its actions speak louder than its words.  In a country where tobacco companies are allowed to sponsor elementary schools and tell kids that “Talent stems from hard work, tobacco helps you become accomplished,” it wouldn’t surprise me if there was a copy of the Death Benefit analysis on the minister of health’s bookshelf.

At this point I would not lend any more credit to my allegations than I would to Glenn Beck’s ramblings but to quote America’s favorite rodeo clown® it’s “right under your nose if you’re willing to open your eyes to see it.” In all seriousness though, it does seem to be the perfect solution to China’s old people problem.

Update: I just came back from the bathroom where 3 people were smoking oblivious to the “Smoking Prohibited” sign right at eye level behind them. Sigh

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