Private kitchens: Hong Kong’s hidden treat

Teatime crepe at Fleur de Sel

Hong Kong (CNN) — On the tenth floor of a commercial building in Hong Kong, the neon lit streets of the city’s Lan Kwai Fong bar district below are replaced by Qing Dynasty antiques and the alluring waft of Chinese cuisine.

Club Qing is an eatery of sorts that prides itself on fine dining but shuns the word restaurant. Serving only 20 to 30 customers per day, Club Qing calls itself a private kitchen — a concept that has become a staple of the Hong Kong dining scene.

Private kitchens started about 15 years ago when chefs and restaurant owners were trying to sidestep the city’s notoriously high rental prices for ground level spaces and began moving upstairs into residential and even industrial locales.

They acquired licenses as private clubs in order to avoid the regulations and fees placed on public restaurants.

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From foster care to the streets: when the system fails

Gabriel Almendarez

LOS ANGELES (Neon Tommy) — Gabriel Almendarez is looking for one thing in life: someone he can call family.

It’s a search that began early in life for the 21-year-old who, after living in an abusive home for 11 years, bounced around in foster care until leaving the system at age 18.

“I do feel alone in this world because I don’t have a family to go home to,” Almendarez said. “There is nobody who cares or even asks me how I’m doing.”

But before he can find a family, Almendarez needs to find a place to live — he has been homeless off and on since he left foster care.

Almendarez, who lives in Granada Hills, Calif., had been sleeping in his red 1994 GMC Sierra up until two weeks ago when it broke down in Camarillo, about 40 miles away.

A mechanic told him it wasn’t worth repairing, so he abandoned the truck and now sleeps on top of bags of his clothing on the garage floor of a friend’s family home — not wanting to be a burden by asking for a mattress or even a blanket.

Almendarez’s story is not unique.

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New research shows increased rewards could be causing you to “choke”

Vikram Chib, researcher at the California Institute of Technology.
Vikram Chib, researcher at the California Institute of Technology.

With just a few minutes to go in the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, Jordan Williamson, a Stanford freshman, lined up to kick a field goal. Williamson had been kicking well all season and his team was tied.

However, he botched the kick and Stanford was forced into overtime against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Most kickers never get a second chance to make a game-winning field goal. But during overtime, when Stanford was down 38-41, Williamson was called on again.

And again he missed.

Most psychologists believe poor performance under pressure is the result of being over-motivated and losing focus on the task at hand because you are so excited about completing it. This idea has been worked out over years of neuroscience.

Vikram Chib, a postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology, wasn’t satisfied with that explanation. After watching countless of his idols choke during penalty kicks, the soccer fan wondered if there wasn’t something more.

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Adopted from China: Finding identity through heritage

June Cubbage-Troop plays at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Courtesy of Amy Cubbage.

Hong Kong (CNN) – When Maia Stack returned to the pagoda, or tower, where she had been abandoned as a baby she was overwhelmed by what had happened there 11 years earlier.

“I remember thinking, ‘Wow, I wonder if my birth family hid behind those bushes or something’” said Stack, now 18 years old, on returning to Hangzhou, China.

“I felt very disengaged throughout the entire process. I kind of removed myself from the situation because it was too emotionally challenging.”

Stack is one of tens of thousands of children — 95% percent of whom are girls — who have been adopted from China since its government ratified international adoption in 1992.

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Artistic communities are a haven for artists in the middle of the city

Members of Synchronicty sitting down to eat dinner.

This story was picked up by the Huffington Post.

LOS ANGELES (Neon Tommy) — Aside from a few small details — a bronze peace sign above the front door and a turquoise bus parked in the driveway — this craftsman house in a quiet West Adams neighborhood looks just like any other.

Once inside, the sounds of the electronic pop band Passion Pit and the smells of vegetarian Thai curry drift throughout the home.

It’s nearing 8:30 p.m. and pretty soon a hand-carved wooden whistle will signal to anywhere between 10 and 20 people that dinner is ready.

Three people come down from upstairs, where one was crafting a leather belt while the other two drew in bound notebooks. A pair of women emerges from the den where they had been discussing what to pack for the Burning Man Festival — a 25-year-old event that is considered an experiment in the organic creation of community.

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Long Beach birth rates dive blamed on sour economy – Press-Telegram

Credit: Jeff Gritchen / Long Beach Press-Telegram

Long Beach (Press-Telegram) — As Jenifer Navarro sits in her kitchen helping her 7-year-old daughter count out $1.29 for her math homework, she wonders if young Katie will ever have the life-shaping experiences that come with having siblings.

Navarro, 41, and her husband, Tony, have wanted a second child for about four years, but with the sluggish economy they too have been counting their quarters and dimes and don’t think they have enough money to expand their family.

When the recession hit in 2007, there was a record number of births in the United States – 4,316,233 – but since then that number has been dropping. Nationally, the birth rate declined 7 percent over the next three years, resulting in about 300,000 fewer births in 2010, according to a study done by the Pew Research Center.

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