About a year ago, on a trip to Hong Kong, I saw a single bottle of Sierra Nevada beer that somehow had made it to a grocery store shelf. After I bought it I wrapped it up in a scarf, then later tucked it inside a shoe in my suitcase and brought it all the way back to our apartment in Beijing to save for a special moment. That was my policy on the few times I improbably saw a Sam Adams or Rogue Dead Guy beer in a mainland Chinese store. All of this was defense against the bleakness of the local offerings.

Last week, at a grocery store in the SF Bay area, this is what I saw (click for larger and more lovingly detailed, from this Nexus One camera phone shot). It's disorienting.

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We may be headed down, but it's a cushioned descent. More on the Rogue Dead Guy saga in China shortly; also, on the Nexus One's camera and other features.  And yes, yes, I realize that a Chinese aficionado of, say, wild mushrooms or Sichuan spices might have the converse reaction if going back to a Chinese traditional market from the bleakness of sanitized American stores.

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