two benjamins: crazy-colored and well-traveled

This is probably old news to most Americans, but I’ve been in China for the last two years so I’m not very accustomed to the new banknotes. And seriously? The new 100-dollar bill is weird. I mean … the COLORS! The blue! The orange! They’re supposed to be green. That’s what makes American money so special and wonderfully confusing to foreigners: they’re all the same size and all the same color – green.

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Can you still call them greenbacks or lettuce if they’re now multi-colored? Well I guess we call them ‘dead presidents’ even though Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin weren’t presidents, so like practically everything else with the English language … why not? I know the craziness is due to anti-counterfeit measures, but it’s still weird to see something so established change. THEY SHOULD BE GREEN! Sigh.

After calming down from the shock of color (id est, colors other than green), I noticed that the two c-notes were stamped on the back with a blue mark in Arabic. A US note from a Chinese bank with an Arabic stamp? Huh?

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After a bit of online Googling, I found out that it’s called a ‘chop mark’ and is still fairly common for currency circulating abroad, especially in the Middle East and Asia. Basically it’s a little stamp that someone (a private person or money trader, not the government) uses to indicate authenticity so they don’t have to constantly re-check if it’s real or not. Interesting, eh? In all my life in the States I’d never seen one, but then again, I never did handle many 100-dollar notes.

So I guess at some point these two Benjamins made their way through the Middle East. Ah, the curious travels of US cash.

beauty product overload


I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to beauty stuff, but lately I’ve become somewhat more involved. Now that I’m in my ‘late 20s’ (oh gracious goodness, I’ve moved up a box on surveys!), things are definitely not as they were when I was a bright-eyed coed. I don’t have as much tolerance for alcohol, I can’t pull all-nighters with the same ease, when I’m sick it takes longer to bounce back, I have unexplained aches in my knee and back, and (probably as a result of all the alcohol, coffee, all-nighters, and sun) my skin isn’t as great.

Since I live in Asia, land of way too many beauty products, I’ve taken up face masks, serum, and some other stuff. I’m still not a big makeup or product devotee like some of my friends here and the only thing I really subscribe to is daily lotion with SPF for my face – after all, I grew up under the Texas sun.

Do you want the whole run-down? This might seem involved to some, but really it’s pretty basic.

  • paper facial mask – once a week
  • clay mask – once a month if my skin isn’t too dry
  • serum – overnight, once or twice a week
  • face scrub – two or three times a week
  • nose pore strips – once a week
  • paper eye mask – once a week

There are so many beauty products available, and everything is supposedly formulated for Asian skin. I had always used general American products so I had a bit of a learning curve when it came to brands and products. Are things really that different? Yes and no. There are cultural differences (lots of lotions have whitening properties), physiological differences (Asian skin tends to be of a more olive tone and get more oily), and climactic differences (products that adhere and breathe well are good for the humid summers here), so Asian beauty products target a much smaller niche than American ones.

It’s not that big a deal, but here I don’t have to do as much searching, just more reading about what the heck all these products are and how I’m supposed to use them. Oh, and I must say that Innisfree is great. Those Koreans do their beauty stuff right … even though I think they go overboard with their 10-step daily routines.