In the quaint Chinese town of Dali, our cellphones were starting to run out of juice and we needed a reliable way to wake up in time to catch a bus to Lijiang the next morning. Fortunately, we were in China, where things like tiny alarm clocks are made. Unfortunately, neither of us speak a word of Mandarin, not even “thank you”, which seemed to be pronounced differently in every town we visited. But on one of the main shopping strips of Dali, a clever man was selling tiny clocks. Trying to minimize our fairly obvious ignorant touristdom, we timidly approached the shop, pointed to a clock, and said “alarm clock?” The clever clock salesman rolled his eyes at us, picked up a clock and said “di-di-dit! di-di-dit!” Our eyes lit up with recognition and delight at the obvious universal phrase for alarm clock. And now we treasure our little pink di-di-dit.


Last night I saw a young woman do something simple, yet ingenious with her hamburger. If not life-altering, it was at least a burger-altering experience. She dug a small trench in the inside of the top half of the bun (she called it her “condiment boat”), filled it with ketchup, mustard, and mayo, and only then did she attempt to balance the bun on top of the rest of the burger. Only it didn’t need to balance. And when she pressed down to take the first bite, condiments didn’t ooze all over the place like they do when I eat a burger. Because of the extra space created in the top half of the bun, this woman achieved some of the tidiest burger eating I’ve ever seen, with nary a drop of ketchup wasted.