Thursday, January 23, 2014

Blowing hot and cold

Bro1 has been on a bit of a coffee kick lately. By "coffee kick", I mean sampling long blacks (hur hur hur) at non-conglomerate coffee houses* and declaring that they're "meh". I'm not sure what he's looking for, but it's safe to say that when/if he finds the rapture-inducing brew, it will be expensive and hard to get, leaving him bitter (HAHA) to the end of his days.

Domestic coffee-making things
Personally, I'm all for egalitarianism when it comes to caffeinated beverages. I may brew my own coffee in a French press** each morning, or dust off my Vietnamese drip brewer if the grounds happen to be coarser, but it doesn't mean that I would turn down a cup of instant if I were offered one, much less heap scorn on offering/offerer. This is because: 

1. It's rude.
2. It doesn't matter how it happens as long as you get buzzed.

For those reasons, I find the coffee vs. tea thing inexplicable as well. I don't know how much of it is marketing and to what extent avowed coffee and tea drinkers actually believe that their beverage of choice should be the only beverage ever.

I like tea. It's mellow and mind-clearing and invigorating in a way that coffee can never be. Apparently though, you have to get the perfect tea leaves or else you might as well just fill your cup with ditch water. And you mustn't ever wash your teapot because you will destroy the flavours so painstakingly developed over 5 days.

Fortunately, I have had the privilege of brewing tea in clay teapots, copper pots, and my trusty French press***, and can safely tell you that it's usually down to brewing time and leaf quantity. That is, if you want stronger tea, use more leaves. If you want a mellower flavour, use cool water and steep it overnight, or steep the leaves in hot water over a shorter time. 

There's nothing wrong with bagged tea either, because what's the point of having a chill-out moment if you can't do it your way?

* It seems like one opens every week here, which is both exciting and a little worrying.
** For some reason, people here consider this an esoteric method and get wide-eyed over it. What's so mysterious about leaving coffee grounds in hot water for 4 minutes?
*** I buy into the idea that using an infuser is counterproductive to the steeping process.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Taking stock

Enfant Terrible and I both gained weight last year; he more than I, but the point is we both would have to pay more if we were to check ourselves in as luggage on a flight.

First world problems are embarrassing. Lifestyle diseases are all a direct result of your own indulgence in the advantages your cushy life affords you. In the grand scheme of things, they does nothing to advance world peace; the demands of an affluent society increase/highlight the disparity between that of a poorer one.*

Enfant Terrible has since started to eat less and move more. I initially had a head-start over him in terms of the let's get healthy initiative, but he is clearly the more disciplined half.**

Our approaches to fitness are wildly disparate, to put it mildly. He favors the whole endurance training thing, whereas I believe that it isn't worth that much pain to work up a sweat. 

Still, we've managed to convince one another to try out each other's approach: I do a circuit training thing each day*** and he does jumping jacks; he drags me out for a run every evening, during which I trot along dutifully until I'm winded, then walk briskly, breaking into a trot again whenever he turns around to check on me. 

It's working out quite well I think.

* Guilt of privilege is another first world problem that first world residents try to alleviate by throwing as much money and goods as they can afford at less privileged countries.

** He is able to say no to a second green tea mochi U_U

*** Original article by the American College of Sports Medicine. The more sets you do, the more you burn.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mee kolok

The most ubiquitous thing in Kuching, Sarawak, is the mee kolok. I don't know what dialect the name comes from, but for those who have not had the opportunity, it is one-bowl meal of noodles (traditionally) tossed in lard and topped with slices of char siew, ground pork, and slivered spring onions.

There are pork-free versions, of course, though I wouldn't vouch for their halal status. The lard is replaced by some other rendered fat, maybe chicken. "Special" versions feature seafood, pig offal, or sometimes both. Die-hard enthuasists like my dad would try all versions, but inevitably conclude that the original pig version has a je ne sais quoi that is impossible to replace.

The breakfast of champions. And many Sarawakians.
Personally, I prefer Sarawak laksa. All basic versions don't contain pork, though the stock might. In any case, I like the al dente springiness and recalcitrant curliness of a mee kolok noodle. Without it, it's just another plate of ho-hum Kuala Lumpur wantan noodle.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


Ironically, given I'm always online, I decided last year that I would use social media less often.

So, I will check in to Twitter, Facebook (obviously), and (sad) Imgur* less frequently.

The reason(s) for the diet are obvious (to me, at least): none of these sites actually contributes to my work, and trawling them for the occasional respite from yet another interesting depressing manuscript about how W gene affects X phenotype via Y protein in Z cancer** has yielded increasingly decreased gratification.

That is, it's become less interesting. I could have just said that, but that's no fun.

Coincidentally, Neil Gaiman announced last year that he would be on a social media sabbatical. The difference is that he is married to Amanda Palmer and I am not he is an internationally best-selling author who has a lot of things to do and very little time in which to do it.

Of course, you've never seen either of us in the same room together...

* Sad that I have become ensnared in the mind-numbing compulsion to load one image after another for hours on end.

** It's all about gene expression lately. Get on it.