Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Skin Disease of the Month


There was (is?) a homeopathic movement involving the consumption of colloidal silver. Proponents suggest that colloidal silver provides any number of health benefits, including a significant boost to the immune system which leaves them malady free (except for the fact that the consumption of excessive amounts of silver results in the irreversible condition known as Argyria, in which the victim's skin turns blue).

This is not to be confused with Methemoglobinemia, a genetic condition which interferes with the amount of oxygen that is delivered to the skin, causing it to turn blue. A famous series of cases occurred when two Kentucky clans carrying the recessive Methemoglobinemia gene intermarried and began producing blue offspring. They were known as The Blue Fugates of Kentucky:

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bia Hoi

This is bia hoi, "fresh beer," an institution of Vietnamese society. Bia hoi refers to both the drink and the establishment that serves it. As there is a bia hoi directly outside the school, and it costs 3000 dong per glass (that's 17 cents U.S.), I have consumed more than a few.

"Hoi," by the way, is not pronounced "hoy" as one might expect, but "huh-ee" (except you say it as one syllable). "Hoy," in fact, means "smelly." So for the first month or so after our arrival, I would sit down at my favorite bia hoi and order up a glass of smelly beer.

Bia hoi is stored in non-pressurized, insulated kegs. They have to sell all the beer by the end of the day because it goes flat, and there is a noticeable difference between a glass tapped from the bottom of a keg and a glass tapped from a new keg.

Note that these kegs are from the local bia hoi producer in Hai Phong. There are a couple of other brands in town, including one from Hanoi that is slightly more expensive. I prefer the local brew though.

In the late afternoon the bia hois begin to fill up and are packed around 8pm (although it is pretty common to see a few beer enthusiasts knocking back some brews as early as 7 in the morning).

Chilling out at a bia hoi involves (continuously) toasting the good health of your drinking companions and enjoying the fact that the heat has broken for the time being (that is if, in fact, the heat has broken; if not then it is a time for simply toasting the good health of your drinking companions--continuously).