In an effort to increase productivity and spend my time left on this mortal coil wisely, I’ve been experimenting with making certain things difficult. Not good things, of course, such as ritual, spirituality, creative expression, or spending time with people whose company I enjoy; the things I’m trying to make difficult are detrimental and wasteful activities such as watching internet videos, eating when I’m not hungry, and spending more money than necessary on transportation.
To avoid getting lost down a YouTube rabbit hole, I tether my laptop to the internet via my mobile phone instead of using house WiFi. Due to the limited amount of mobile data my plan provides, watching internet videos is out of the question. When zoning out to the latest trending vidz threatens to eat into my allotment of wireless gigabytes, staying on task and hammering out the paragraphs becomes the path of less resistance.
To avoid stuffing my face between meals, I buy most of my food dry, raw, or in bulk, which means I have to prepare something before it’s ready for consumption. With the exception of the odd carrot or apple, this has allowed me to drastically cut down on spells of random munching, given that I can’t just eat one cookie after the other while standing in front of the kitchen cupboard but have to bake a batch first, from a box.
To avoid wasting time driving around out of laziness or spending money unnecessarily on a gym membership, I bicycle or walk nearly everywhere I go. Bicycling and walking, as well as a daily hatha yoga practice, sets of burpies, and regular disc-golf outings, fulfil most of my upper and lower body workout demands without monetary expenditure. (Plus, these activities contribute little to my overall carbon footprint, which I estimate to be roughly 9 tons of CO2 a year.) Since getting access to a car or a gym is difficult, I resort to the options at my ready and immediate disposal.
By making that which I want to do easy, and that which I want to avoid doing hard, I find myself living a more productive and active life than I ever did watching TV or driving around in a slave’s chariot.
americanifesto / 場黑麥 / jpr / urbanartopia / whorphan
On my trip through Vietnam last Spring, I went out of my way to eat primarily local food, specifically roadside bánh mì đặc biệt - bread filled with a special combination of ingredients. Whenever hungry I would seek out a person selling sandwiches from a push-cart and let him or her pile on the ingredients, whatever happened to be on hand that day. If they had spicy sauce, I would ask for it, although I have since forgotten the word. A local sandwich of this type usually cost less than two dollars.
It is difficult to describe the joy that would overcome me from quieting my hunger on the side of a busy Vietnamese street whilst eating a slender baguette filled with liver pâté, sliced meats, slivered carrots, parsley, &c. If the vendor spoke some English, we would chat. Otherwise I would eat in contented silence, my presence occasionally drawing in additional customers, it seemed.
My most memorable bánh mì experience occurred in Hoi An, an ancient seaside city of culture and beauty. The evening before my bus left I had come across a woman selling sandwiches from a cart parked in a quiet side-street a few blocks from the farmer’s market. I had parked my rented bicycle and ordered a sandwich, eating it on the sidewalk whilst sitting on a colorful, child-sized plastic chair. The next morning I had checked out of my hostel, gathered up my ruck, and was waiting for the sleeper bus near the market when a pang of hunger hit. Walking down the block I discovered the same cart parked in the same spot, recognizing it from its unique banners and construction. Since the bus had not yet arrived I went quickly to it. The woman’s bánh mì had been the most delicious I’d tasted to that point, and I was excited to sample another.
Rounding the cart I found a man standing there, roughly the same age as the woman of the night before. I greeted him in his tongue, bowing to him respectfully. “Bánh mì?” he said to me, his eyes twinkling merrily. I nodded emphatically, answering him accidentally in Indonesian. He didn’t seem to notice but raised his right hand, first showing one finger, then two, his face mischievously crinkled, a pantomimed query. I raised two fingers, whereupon he nodded and bent to work, using the same hand to grab a pair of short baguettes from a wicker basket resting in the glass case in front of him. After putting the baguettes on a cutting board he picked up a chef’s knife in his right hand, then bent forward so that the stump of his left arm, which had been crudely severed below the elbow, could keep the baguette from rolling away.
Upon seeing the numbers tattooed into the skin near the stump I was instantly reminded of images I had seen in of War Crimes museums of Hanoi and elsewhere that chronicled the punitive, wartime practice of hacking off hands. Since my bus was set to arrive shortly, and figuring it would be rude to do so, I did not inquire as to the nature of the man’s wound. Given his age of roughly 65 years he would have been in his twenties at the start of the American War, however, meaning that he’d been tortured, branded, and disfigured by the invading forces, their allies, or the North Vietnamese Army. The sandwiches he made were as delicious and fortifying as any I have ever tasted. Memories of his twinkling smile, though, and willingness to engage kindly with an American tourist, will nourish and sustain me for far longer.
americanifesto / JPR / whorphan / 場黑麥
In solidarity with Bolivia (see here) and other countries that actively care for the health of their citizens, the Glorious Republic of Grigovia announced today it will ban unhealthy fast food. The country has set aside a portion of next year's expected export duties to buy back retail locations owned by chain restaurants such as MacDoorknob's and Bugger Cling and turn them into Centers for Communal Creativity, Activity, & Defense (CCCAD). This newest action against the incessantly creeping forces of corporatized cultural degradation was approved by a large majority of voters during the General People's Decision of 2012, a directly-democratic electoral process similar to the Swiss model during which the Grigovian citizenry decides how to shape its own future. “From now on,” said Orgyast Heidoyiest, deputy Minster of Cultural Affairs in the country's lower of two houses of parliament, “Grigovia will no longer foster the model of conglomerated chain food factories that answer to a board of well-to-do, hard-nosed foreign executives whose primary goal is to increase their own wealth and the stock returns of their rich investors.” The culinary world celebrated the news. “Finally, we are ridding ourselves of the faceless corporate leeches,” said Xi Hong-Deng, a naturalized Grigovian citizen and part owner (with his wife) of Feng Fang Fong, which serves locally sourced Pan Asian cuisine. “Now we can start the process of healing the children of this land using healthy and nutritious foods made with love and dedication instead of poisoning their little bodies with preservative-laden slop engineered to make them addicted to sugar-packed milkshakes, mechanically-separated chicken pucks, and lard-dipped strings of starchy potato-like product.” Critics argue that Grig's own culinary specialty, called tchuirff, a pastry made with acorn flour, goose meat, and sharp curry, is on average higher in calories and fat than nearly any single item on the menu at the leading fast-food chains, until they consider the long history of this local delicacy and the low levels of liver disease, diabetes, and heart disorders that existed before fast food was allowed to contaminate the guts of the Grigovian people.
mentiri factorem fecit – 場黑麥
blog updated Fridays, usually
I bicycle, write, surf, and the rest.