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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

HGTV Cave House Sweepstakes

Are you a fan of minimalism and modern design?  Do you like natural elements like wood, stone, water and earth?  Would you like a free house designed by the all-star cast of "designers" from HGTV?  Have you been reading these rhetorical questions to yourself, each one progressively louder and more intense than the last?  Great!  Then you'll love the first annual HGTV Cave House giveaway! 

Yes, you shouted that correctly, folks.  For the first time ever, the good people at HGTV are offering a dream home that's designed to be so cutting edge you'd wonder if they didn't just find a cave, zone it residential, and call it a house.  But that's not what they did; they promise!  They really designed and built a cave.  And it has all the design features and amenities that HGTV viewers have come to love.  A modern bathroom, a pool, spectacular views.  It's all there.  And now is your chance to win it for free.

Still not convinced?  How do buzz word like "granite," "repurposed natural hardwood," "stone," and "green construction" sound?  Does it sound good enough to be what you want since everyone else appears to want it too?  Do you feel yourself slowly starting to lose your identity?  Cause it's happening!  Not to fear, though, future contestant!  HGTV is here to rescue you. 

Enjoy these pictures from the exclusive first tour taken inside the HGTV 2011 Cave House.  And make sure you head over to HGTV today and enter for your chance to win it today!  (Don't see the contest on the website?  Email HGTV and demand they bring back the 2011 Cave House!  They'll probably give you some nonsense about how it isn't real, but that's just because they want to keep it for themselves!)


Living Room (note: not to scale)
Built-in Pipe Organ
Indoor/Outdoor Pool
Window off kitchen
Original art by Ungah (the caveman)
Stairs to 2nd floor
Master Suite w/ built in sink(hole)
Master Bathroom/Shower
Original mural in bedroom by the host of HGTV's "Color Splash" David Bromstad
Spacious back yard

Though the house isn't for sale, it was appraised at 1.2 kagillion smackeroos!  We're not sure what that means, but we've already converted all our assests to smackeroos assuming the new form of currency has more value than the dollar.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Great Scott! Abroad: The Youth in Asia

Recently our editor had a chance to travel to China where he got to the bottom of an age old myth and dispelled a few others.

I'm not Chinese, nor do I play jokes.  So chances are I'll never put urine in your soda.  But do they actually do that in China?  The whole pee pee in the coke thing?  Is it a popular prank amongst youths?  And what about all the other falsities and generalizations we've made about our far eastern western neighbors over the years?  Are any of them true?  Or are they just some of the many stereotypes that the US has become known for?  The answer isn't a simple one, but in short: no, no, hmm, some, probably.

Coke is everywhere in China, as it is in most of the rest of the world (or so we're told).  But the chances of finding any pee pee in your beverage is slim to none (it's much harder to hide in Sprite).  Still, to be on the safe side, make sure you're the one opening the can/bottle, or you see your waiter pour it with your own eyes.  The greatest irony is that if your Coke is served with ice, there's a good chance you'll get sick anyway, as our pathetic U.S. bodies can't handle the Chinese septic-twinged tap water.  Also, has anyone ever done an analysis of US drinking water/ice?  Chances are there's more pee in ours than theirs, especially after seeing what went on in the lovely Domino's Pizza video a few years back.

Pei Pei: definitely not in your Coke
Still, I proceeded to ask every waiter I encountered if my Coke had pee pee in it.  A few looked at me like I was crazy (I was speaking English, after all), but most of them thought I was referring to the self-proclaimed b-girl Pei Pei Yuan.  They assured me there was no chance an entire human could fit inside a soda can, but at the same time, they were impressed by my knowledge of obscure ex-pat performers.

Luckily I had an interpreter with me who spoke the language very well, but even that doesn't help when the Chinese misinterpret our language worse than we interpret theirs.  For example, one evening we went to a restaurant that offered egg rolls.  After several days in China, this was the first egg roll I had seen listed on a menu, so naturally, I wanted to try it.  My rationale being that if the U.S. interpretation of egg rolls were so delicious, than the Chinese- the original- must be out of this world, right?  Not even close.  Much to our surprise, our 11-fingered* waiter brought us what could only be the literal translation of egg roll:

It tasted as good as it looks.

Moments like these were too many to count, I learned.  Food seemed to be the greatest example of confusion, but that's not to say there weren't many other misnomers and malapropisms as well.  Like Tiananmen Square, for example, which is really more of a rectangle, and the Forbidden City, which is actually quite accessible. 

All in all though, China proved to be an amazing place.  I loved it long-time and I'm eager to go back.  The people there were both inquisitive and jovial, (in part because Big Brother is always watching them), and many locals I spoke to wanted to learn more about us (and U.S.).  I indulged them as best I could, but the majority of the conversations ended with them saying "you have a big belly" and laughing amongst their friends.

I like to think that makes me one step closer to Buddha than any of them will ever be.

*he had a second thumb on his right hand, but sadly I could not get a photo.