Robo Ricecookers

Cooking Rice in Style

I’m a little embarrassed to say it, but today I finally bought a rice cooker! Maybe because I’ve been a bread person my whole life I never thought buying a machine specifically for cooking rice was important. But since I’ve been in Asia I have eaten rice just about everyday and loved it. After years of fluffy white rice at restaurants and friend’s houses, I’ve developed a taste for this healthy staple. But when it was time to start looking for one at the supermarket, what I wasn’t prepared for the endless choices in front of me.

There are TONS of rice cooker options on the shelves in Chinese supermarkets, but most of them look pretty ugly. And since I’m not a “heavy” rice eater, I figured the huge 5-6 liter mutha rice cookers wouldn’t be my thing. So, I set out to find a small one that would be an interesting addition to our kitchen here. That’s when I met “Robo”.

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Acupuncture Locations in America

Find an Acupuncturist!

Acupuncture is surprisingly everywhere in the US. You’ll find as many clinics offering acupuncture as you’ll find Asian food markets! But with that comes the difficulty of finding the right service provider. So, take down a few addresses and phone numbers. Contact them and enquire about pricing.

Remember to go into this with an open mind. Before the feeling that this is “too expensive for me” creeps in, just allow yourself to start having the conversation with an acupuncturist. You will probably learn something new today!

The map to the right will help you find your closest Acupuncturist. Just keep clicking in the area of your city or town to eventually find it! If you are good with Google, you could substitute “usa” with “[your town]” to search faster.

Good luck!

New Threat! Water Armies All Across China

The Water Army is Coming!

Although they  sound like a new villain from a Hollywood movie, they are less scary in person. They are soldiers of propaganda, using whatever free-speech tools they can muster to win the hearts and minds of a voting public. But this is not a political tale, rather, it is a commercial one; and the votes are cast with Ren Min Bi (Chinese Yuan).

So, where does this “Water Army” come from? In fact, it is a Chinese term which has been causing difficulties for consumer protection around the Chinese Internet.  Imagine you go to a forum online and look for information about insurance, a new car, or even a toaster. Hundreds or thousands of these soldiers are hired for cheap, usually ¥0.7 RMB ($.01) per post, and begin a campaign to sway public opinion toward or against various products. In a country where the average worker makes 20-25RMB ($3) per hour, it is economically feasible for Water Armies to exist.

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Fire Cupping and Back Scraping Could Save Your Life!

Fire Cupping (bá guàn)

Back in 2005 I thought I was going to die… literally, it was the worst Flu I had ever experienced. Maybe it was from the new environment in China, or perhaps it was a random winter bug! No matter where it came from, it kept me in bed very achy muscles. I couldn’t get out of bed to visit the bathroom- it was that bad. I quickly decided that I would need help or else I’d be a goner. At the time I was dating a Vietnamese girl who was studying at the Southern Yangzte University of Wuxi, which is what I called home for the first month I was in China. After a distress call she immediately came to my apartment, flipped me face down, and started scraping my back with a washed coin. She poured White Flower Oil (白花油) all over my back during this process. It sucked. It burned. And I could be forgiven for thinking that she was helping the flu kill me even faster!

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It Takes Two to Tuangou

Well, honestly speaking, it takes at least a few more than that to really Tuangou! Tuangou (团购) sites have been around for several years now, stemming from chaotic “mob shopping” and then civilizing into “group buying.” The phenomenon has taken off around the world, with thousands of sites opening in China alone in 2010.

Any time I want to go see a movie for $4 or get a hot pot for $10 or get a massage for $8, I can always trust one of the many tuangou sites online to have a bargain waiting for me. My girlfriend is all about these sites now and we usually check Meituan or Lashou before making any plans.

Here is a monster list of sites based in the US, with increasing sites located in other countries. Following this list is a recent listing (June 2011)of current Chinese tuangou sites.

And here are loads more that exist in China… most have closed by now I’m sure…