Friday, April 6, 2012

Bamboo: it's what's for everything

I realize that the image of bamboo is invariably linked with Asia. But I have been surprised at the prevalence and seeming indestructibility of the wood in just about every heavy-duty application you could think of in Hong Kong.

There's our cutting board, which, despite aggressive cutting and repeated washing, shows no signs of being anything other than sturdy. There's our steamer, which can sit on pretty much any hot surface and not burn. Water (and obviously steam) don't seem to bother it either.

And there's the scaffolding. Our neighbor is having some work done on her windows, so the workmen have set up a complex web of bamboo around her place, about 150 feet in the air. Out of respect for her privacy, I won't post any pictures. But as impressive as it is, it pales in comparison to this...


... or even this.

Biggest bamboo.

So there you go. In New York, they use steel. In Hong Kong, they use (and re-use!) bamboo. But in both cases, I guess you can't argue with the results. But until you can stir-fry steel and eat it with pork, I think bamboo comes out ahead.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The future is right next door

Used to be, I would read about something happening in China and it would seem impossibly far away. Now I see that there is a second J-20, and I think hey, this is in my neighborhood.

Not actually next door.

Of course, "next door" in a big place like China means a lot of things. My neighborhood is nowhere near a military airfield. And it's not at all clear that the J-20 is the future of anything except cool-looking prototypes. But there is no question that I am in a different world now--a world where the building across the harbor flashes the weather forecast on a 200-foot billboard, escalator handrails are sanitized once an hour, and a mysterious stealth fighter is rolled out for all the world's cell phone cameras to see.