One thing I’m really looking forward to putting on my taste buds when I get back to America is spicy food. In particular, I miss hot sauce—in U.S. supermarkets, it’s not uncommon to see shelves holding 50+ varieties of the stuff to choose from.
I also decided that making my own hot sauce would be a perfect hobby for me: it seems cheap enough, involves cooking, and allows plenty of opportunity for tinkering and tracking within a spreadsheet.
What I won’t be doing however is trying to see how insanely hot a sauce I can make—I’m more of a flavor-over-brawn kind of guy. Thankfully, most of the world’s hottest peppers aren’t sold on the open market, so I won’t have to worry about accidentally throwing one of the world’s three spiciest peppers (as measured by Scoville units, or SHU) into my batches.
Pepper X (3,180,000 SHU)
Created for the YouTube series “Hot Ones” (where celebrities are interviewed while eating increasingly spicy hot wings), Pepper X is the heinous result of breeding together spicy varieties of bonnet pepper. Currently, it can only be found (in very diluted form) in the “Last Dab” hot sauce made by the company of the same name as the web series.
Dragon’s Breath (2,480,000 SHU)
Another Frankenstein creation, Dragon’s Breath was conceived by a British chili farmer and university researchers. Ironically, this tiny pepper was not bred for its heat, but instead for its flower-like appearance. The responsible researchers even pose that it could be used as an anaesthetic.
Carolina Reaper (1,569,300 SHU)
This contribution in the pepper arms race is a product of the PuckerButt Pepper Company in South Carolina. The reaper will make you do just that, and then some—in 2018, a man was hospitalized after eating one, complaining of severe headaches. It doesn’t, however, seem to bother mice:
Yes, I had an amazing New Years’ vacation, thank you for asking. Happy New Year to you, too! I went to Hong Kong and Macao, visited Hong Kong Disney, ate a lot of delicious foods (including dim sum and egg tarts), drank a lot of tasty beers, and saw a massive Buddha on top of a hill. I also saw some ruins of an old cathedral in Macao and plenty of beautiful Christmas lights and some very festive Chinese Christmas carolers. Oh, and I got engaged (again) to my number one favorite person and travel buddy.
But, today’s blog isn’t going to be about any of that fun stuff. No, today is reserved for something far more important: this video I found on The Internet™.
Ho-leeeee cow. I was not ready. After the first couple dozen of sneezes, you can’t help but wonder, “Are these sneezes real?” I mean, this woman sneezes as if a demon is trying to come out of her soul with each breath. The title “Grandma Sneezes Dramatically” is so on point. I counted 38 sneezes (35 with false starts) and 12 wardrobe changes which leads me to believe that these sneezes were all filmed on different days. But still, who is this grandma’s grandson that just so happens to have a camera pointed on her anytime she sneezes? She also looks up at the camera a few times, which could suggest a fake, but could also be her way of saying “why are you always filming me?”. Fakery aside, my favorite sneezes are the ones when she’s in her pantry, because, why is this grandma just chillin’ in her pantry?! I also like that her dog is seemingly unfazed by her loud sternutations.
What’s your favorite video on The Internet™ currently?
Happy New Year!
People can be divided into two types, ‟larks” or ‟owls”.
‟Larks” means people who are early birds, whereas ‟owls” means people who lead nocturnal lives. Which type you are is determined by heredity. It is sometimes hard to adjust our sleeping rhythms and hours to our life.
The term ‘lark’ comes from the old English expression ‘Up with the lark’ to describe getting up when the birds (one of them being the lark) start singing first thing in the morning.
The early bird catches the worm.
Are you a lark or an owl? I am a total lark! I usually get up at 4:30 and do many things in the early morning. I read a newspaper, do some cleaning, make breakfast, and study English.I can utilize my time in the early morning.
Early risers are more likely to succeed in the future! One day I read an article which said this, and I tried to get up earlier. Finally I got up at 3:30! However, after I finished my work at 9:00, I felt really sleepy and almost dozed off while I was driving home. It was so dangerous that I had to stop getting up so early.
However, I still get up at 4:30 and enjoy my time. This year, I was able to see the first sunrise of the year. The early bird catches the worm!
Why don’t you try getting up earlier?
December of sophomore year of high school, I remember being in class and seeing several students huddling around my teacher’s computer. The video they described to the rest of us didn’t sound that exciting at the time, but it would go to spark a (arguably tacky) trend that adds even more to the spectacle of Christmas.
The video was of the home of Carson Williams, an electrical engineer from Mason, Ohio (about 25 minutes from where I grew up). Williams had rigged the 16,000 Christmas lights on his house to flash and dance in time with Christmas metal band Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Wizards of Winter”, which you could hear if you tuned to a specific radio frequency in your car. The light show became so popular that Williams had to shut it down for the 2005 Christmas season due to the traffic congestion it was creating in his neighborhood.
The following Christmas season, many others started to post videos of their own elaborate light displays, and Williams was even hired to do the lighting for a beer commercial. The buzz around the idea allowed Williams to start his own holiday lights company, and in the years that followed he was commissioned to do commercial-scale holiday light shows in cities like Denver and Chicago.
Although the fad seems to be somewhat dying off (at least according to Google Trends), new light show videos still make the rounds every holiday season, often incorporating other pop culture trends.
Even if these immaculate displays end up fizzling out and going the way of sending a family newsletter or actually singing carols to your neighbors, the decade of the light show will live on for a long time in Christmas lore.
Around this time, as the end of the year draws near, you can’t help but look back and reflect.
I learn something new about Japanese culture everyday. As the new year is quickly approaching, I’ve said じゃね to learning about Christmas facts and 抗日わto New Year traditions in Japan. Last year, I learned that Japanese people visit their local shrine on New Year’s Day for hatsumode, or the first prayer of the year. People line up to pray starting at 10 P.M. at the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo in preparation for the midnight prayer gong! This year, I was happy to learn about the Japanese tradition of hatsuhinode, or viewing the first sunrise of the year. In both Shinto and Buddhism tradition, the god of the New Year, Toshigami, arrives with the sunrise on January 1st to grant your New Year’s wish. Tokyo Skytree is very popular sun rise watching destination in Tokyo as well as Goryokaku Tower in Hokkaido Prefecture. While most people in America will be watching the ball drop and then partying ‘til the sun rises, I like the idea of quietly watching the sun rise with a hopeful heart. Maybe my Western traditions will take a backseat to Eastern sensibilities this year and I’ll tone down the partying enough to stay awake past midnight! Although, I’m not sure I can stay awake until 7:00 A.M. regardless of when the partying ends. Although I live in a relatively flat part of Matsuyama, I’m thinking of climbing up the hill to my local shrine to catch the first golden rays of the new year. Who knows? Maybe Toshigami will bless this poor Westerner with a hangover cure and a nap!
In anticipation of questions from my students about popular American Christmas traditions (and mostly because I don’t actually know), I wanted to scratch my own itch and ask and answer: what is eggnog and why is it so popular in America?
What it is: According to Wiki, eggnog is a rich, white beverage made from milk, cream, sugar, whipped egg whites, and egg yolks. Spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are often added as a topping. Many adults like to also add spirits like rum, brandy, or whisky to kick it up a notch. Some people make it at home, but it can also be found in any supermarket’s dairy section around Christmas time.
How it became a thing: The history of the word is disputed: some argue the name comes from a 17th century English word for beer (nog); others think it’s a slurring of ‘egg’ and ‘grog‘ (an old word for rum); while even more trace it to 18th-century America.
No matter its etymology, the drink itself was popular among Englands’s lower classes and eventually made its way to the Americas in the 18th century. Although today the drink comes alcohol-free by default (in stores, anyway), in early America the opposite was true and it contained whatever hard alcohol was available, including rum, whiskey, bourbon, and sherry. During the Christmas of 1826, heavy consumption of the drink even led to a literal eggnog riot at the U.S. Military Academy.
How Americans feel about it: Eggnog is a very polarizing beverage and many Americans have strong and nuanced opinions about it: some think the homemade version is heaven in a glass but despise the processed supermarket versions, while others will happily drink any variety as long as it’s ‘spiked’ with alcohol. Either way, there’s apparently enough of a market for the stuff that soy, coconut, and even tofu-based versions are now available.
Even if you pass on the drink itself, the beverage’s flavor can be hard to avoid: seeing nog-flavored treats like waffles, ice cream, and cookies isn’t uncommon, making egg nog’s presence around the holidays almost as ubiquitous as cinnamon and peppermint’s.