All posts by causalien

Around the world: Tokyo

So many people in the subway station everyday, similar to how full the metros get on Canada day back home. Yet there’s barely anyone talking. Everyone’s quiet, polite and going somewhere.

The whole environment, somehow makes being a Hikikomori very easy. A relief actually at being one as everyone else is doing it. Everyone is playing games, reading manga and doing nerdy things. Even the girls, the grown ups, people in suits, woman dressed impeccably for work… Geisha in Starbucks. It makes such nerdy activities so normal and there are no social stigma attached to it.

To be honest, I really like this part of Japan. But with it, comes the long working hours, the drinking, the smoking, the delicious food… but I am not sure I want to live in an environment where it is so easy to slip into such a life.

The judgement and the stigma of such a life in western society kept me going for greater things. Without it, I’d probably slip into this kind of murky living where today feels just like yesterday.

Tokyo is actually less expensive than Osaka and also less expensive than Canada. I realized that Vancouver is probably one of the most expensive place to live in the world when I think of London and Tokyo as cheaper. Speaking of which, Tokyo is one of the cities that I consider as a permanent city to settle down. My conclusion is that it is a nice place to visit for the food, but it is not what I need in my life. Even though the food is good, most of it is empty carbs based dishes. No wonder most of the Japanese have the rounded face ship often associated with people who are skinny fat.

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Around the world: Kyoto

Winter in Kyoto is very much like Vancouver winter. It doesn’t rain as much, but is cloudy all the time. I’d have to say that the weather here is nicer than Canada. I wonder why they don’t have as much problems with foreigners coming in and snapping up apartments like we do. Vancouver’s answer to its real estate problems might lie with Japan. However, I have a suspicion that the answer might be immigration.

It’s been a week now since I Ianded in Japan. I am starting to see some girls as pretty. This gradual change of beauty perception always amazes me. The same plain looking girl I met a week ago is actually pretty. Or it could just be that Kyoto woman is prettier than Osaka woman. Makes me really wonder if she will still be pretty when I am back in Vancouver and looking at her through Japanese eyes.

I am also starting to understand the reason for the creation of these Japanese Shut ins. The environment is really conductive to such a lifestyle. Things are just way too convenient and the food is everywhere. Not just any food. Good quality food. So I can see myself getting really fat from eating if I live here long term. No wonder most of their manga starts off with some ordinary shut in guy with a job where they are burnt out. The politeness, lack of eye contact, social rules. The all contribute to a diminished human contact and chances for relationship to build.

Even though I’d love to live in a city in Japan with so many conveniences. I don’t think I can withstand turning into a social shut in.

How to reach a conclusion

The problem was I can’t seem to sit through anything to the end anymore. There’s a feeling of restlessness and frustration that makes everything so unsatisfying. Others in similar place as me are encountering the same problem but in different ways. One of them described it as “Read 10 books in a year but barely got 2~3 sentence of new information worth remembering.”

With that in mind I begin travelling again, not looking for the journey to give me an answer, but using the escape to actively ponder this problem through forced meeting of others with different perspectives.

My hunch is that this frustration came about due to my expanded abilities to foresaw possible outcomes and predict the most probable ones. Results of all the efforts I put into understanding human natures of different culture and the valuation of things. As a result, it gets harder and harder to find something that I cannot foresee, robbing me of pleasant surprises. It reminded me of an incident where an ex of mine gave me a present and I was able to guess what they were before I opened them. The act of gifting itself was a surprise to me as I had misjudged her level of interest, however the fact that “If she were to give me a present now, it’d be socks” was in my mind foreshadowed a bit of the future that is in store for me.

I’ve written many drafts before, but never published them. They felt more like bragging, like a presentation of what I’ve done and upon a review, seemed so irrelevant because I don’t think it is anything special. Mostly because I understand that the average Joe ain’t interested in it. On top of that, I couldn’t talk about a lot of the interesting (and boring to most) things I did, but that restriction will soon be lifted and irrelevant. And the most important consideration is that, in this day and age where people get butt hurt so easily, the way and reason I use to arrive at a conclusion will be offensive to many. Social bullying for a different opinion is a real threat.

The result of all these fun projects are probably boring to read, but I do believe that how I arrived at them and the internal debates might be interesting to some and write about. After all, I believe it was exactly this cluelessness about this world and the headstrong way I go about trying to fit in that interested most of my original readers. With that in mind, I’ve decided to pick up the keyboard again.

The Curse of the Traveler

When it is just me thinking about an explanation, I just laugh it off as my own failings. But then, you encounter someone who echoed your exact thoughts. Lightning struck as something murky before became known as the truth. I will soon be taking on a new journey after having secured the empire at home. Can’t help feeling like Stilgar at the end of the galactic conquest in Dune from a humble beginning at a sietch in a sea of sand.

An old vagabond in his 60s told me about it over a beer in Central America, goes something like this: The more places you see, the more things you see that appeal to you, but no one place has them all. In fact, each place has a smaller and smaller percentage of the things you love, the more things you see. It drives you, even subconsciously, to keep looking, for a place not that’s perfect (we all know there’s no Shangri-La), but just for a place that’s “just right for you.” But the curse is that the odds of finding “just right” get smaller, not larger, the more you experience. So you keep looking even more, but it always gets worse the more you see. This is Part A of the Curse.

 

Part B is relationships. The more you travel, the more numerous and profoundly varied the relationships you will have. But the more people you meet, the more diffused your time is with any of them. Since all these people can’t travel with you, it becomes more and more difficult to cultivate long term relationships the more you travel. Yet you keep traveling, and keep meeting amazing people, so it feels fulfilling, but eventually, you miss them all, and many have all but forgotten who you are. And then you make up for it by staying put somewhere long enough to develop roots and cultivate stronger relationships, but these people will never know what you know or see what you’ve seen, and you will always feel a tinge of loneliness, and you will want to tell your stories just a little bit more than they will want to hear them. The reason this is part of the Curse is that it gets worse the more you travel, yet travel seems to be a cure for a while.

None of this is to suggest that one should ever reduce travel. It’s just a warning to young Travelers, to expect, as part of the price, a rich life tinged with a bit of sadness and loneliness, and angst that’s like the same nostalgia everyone feels for special parts of their past, except multiplied by a thousand.

Health Update

The site’s doing well, even without any effort on my part. It seems that Google’s modification to its search ranking algorithm is bringing me more organic traffics. The blog traffic is no longer dominated by my Triphasic sleep experiments so it gave me some boost of confidence.

Lately, I’ve been adjusting to the new primary focus on health in my life. I took the chance to narrow down and understand some heart problems I’ve been having. What I found are surprising.

There have always been this weird heart palpitation especially during times of extreme physical exertion. This has been a major limiting factor in how much I can exercise and how hardcore I can get physically with any sports. The methodolgy I used to isolate the culprit is simple. I abstain from one major item I consume each month in order to narrow down exactly under which condition I will experience irregular heart beats while exhausted.

I have previously cleared caffeine from the potential lists until I read about new FDA ruling where cafes have to say that coffee causes cancer. There are so many conflicting research on coffee that it is hard to tell who to trust, but this FDA ruling jolted me to revisit the assumption. So I went in and searched for the drawbacks of coffee while disregarding all positive research as I know that big coffee money will pay people to flood the internet to drown out negative articles. Just like what the tobacco industry used to do and more recently the climate change debate.

The side effects that are already known: Need to piss constantly. Hard to fall into deep long sleep at night, dry mouth, migraine from withdrawal. Flushes water from body.

I searched from caffeine’s effect on non-human living creatures and found some interesting parallels with what I experience. Here’s how caffeine kills insects.

Caffeine’s potential lethality extends to more than just creepy-crawly insects: When given the option slugs purposefully avoid caffeine dipped roughage and snails exposed to 0.5% caffeine solutions die within days (8). To find out how it kills snails, scientists monitored their heart rate: hearts beat faster at low caffeine concentrations, but at concentrations of 0.1% and above, the caffeine triggered a deadly erratic and slowed pulse. Source: http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/slug.html

And why is caffeine toxic for pets as they lack the genes to properly metabolize caffeine.

Pets that consume caffeine may have an increased heart rate and
become hyperactive.

Caffeine also raises blood pressure and causes cardiac arrhythmias,
which can be dangerous.””Caffeine also raises blood pressure and causes cardiac arrhythmias, which can be dangerous.” Source: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/caffeine-toxicity-in-pets

So, what if I am a human who lack the genes to metabolize caffeine? Then I’d have the same problem as these insects and pets if the caffeine ever reaches the same % amount of concentration per body mass.

For me, the reason why it is so hard to pinpoint the problem down to caffeine is because of three particular quirk about the heart problems I experience.

1. is the fact that the symptom only appears 2 days after my body experience a complete abstinence from caffeine and the random heart palpitations last for two days.

2. It will only happen if I did physical activities involving cardio.

3. Like carbs, there are just too many food in the western world with caffeine in them. It was very hard to completely cut it out of my diet. Chocolate, most teas, Oreo cookies etc etc. Even trace amount resets the two day clock for my body to completely flush out the caffeine.

My guess about the random heart palpitation is that caffeine increased my heart rate and as it disappears, the heart has to readjust to the previously slower heart rate.

Changing heart rate. Why is this worrying? Because it does not feel like changing heart rate at all. Also after consulting with a heart doctor and wearing a heart monitoring device for two days the doctor showed me the ekg graph and said: “Your heart basically stops beating and jolts itself back at random intervals violently. That was why you feel a strong uncomfortable beat.”

I will miss that warm feeling of sitting in a café and typing away on my laptop on a warm sunny day, but it is a necessary sacrifice for my health.

On another topic. The new year planning see my grocery budget increase to $600 a month and dining + fast food to $500. I absolutely had no idea what to do with the extra money as $200 ~300 was the maximum I’d spend on grocery within my daily calorie envelop of 1600 kCal. I got my chicken, pork beef and veggies. It did not occur to me that I can just upgrade the quality of the food until recently.

So instead of those cheap chicken drumsticks, I now get the top of the line chicken breast. Instead of ground beef, it is now Ribeye steak or any quality steak I can find. Wild Atlantic Salmon as a good filler that doesn’t blow up the calories. Veggies are veggies, not much I can do about it. I am still limited about the restaurant spending part as I have yet to figure out the problem of eating out and still keeping to my low carb diet of < 1600 kCal.

Shouldn’t be worth mentioning except I noticed a difference in my hunger level as I increased the quality of the food I consume. I don’t feel as hungry when after eating higher quality ingredients. Even though, pound by pound, the equivalent low quality meat provide the same protein content and calories as the high quality meat.

My previous diets of Paleo and then Keto was hellish as I was low on energy and hungry all the time. This time around with higher quality food. There’s none of that hunger and none of that exhaustion. Go figure.

Anyway, take all of these with a grain of salt. It’s all anecdotal evidence of my own experiments. I am just happy I solved two of the most annoying health problems I’ve been happy.

Hard to contain

Inner peace was easier to achieve when nothing was going on with my life.

I find that the hardest thing to do nowadays are my attempts at controlling my mood swings from having to contain my excitement. My joie-de-vivre. So many things that I cannot tell people, things that will bring problems if I did. Not being able to brag about them, about things I am proud of, is somewhat damaging to my psyche. Like some form of masochistic punishment.

Meditations nowadays are always about bring myself back on earth, coaxing myself back to normal as opposed to trying to convince myself that life is great. I have outbursts of joy from time to time you see, as the control is not absolute.

I don’t know the consequences on what will happen if I stop controlling myself only stories of  mentors and ppl before me that have definitely happened. “Enjoy the relative peace for the moment while you can.” A moment in the future will come when you cannot hide anymore if you keep going the current trajectory.

So clamp down the lid of the pressure cooker and soldier on. Prepping for the inevitable day. Maybe that day will never come, but all I can do is prepare for it. Oh god, but the mental control I expand. It is almost unbearable.

Drink, Dive, Dance 5: Gemma

Gemma_ArtertonI was reminded of a summer fling today while reading about an actress. My fling looked like a younger version of Gemma Arterton without makeup. A mixture of German, Belgium and Dutch blood. Skin as pale as snow hair as blond as gold. German blond, not the viking’s platinum blond. So I will call her Gemma from now on. Before her, I wasn’t into tall women with strong square jaw and a curvy body because it is the exact opposite of Asian culture’s standard of beauty, but after Ylva and Gemma, that look have taken root in a special spot in my heart.

It’d always remind me of how naturally we went from fun adventurers who bumped into each other on the road to wild night of care free sex. Then they mess you up because that’s all they wanted and leave you in the dust for someone else on a whim. Northern European women are strange like that.

I couldn’t understand why I was so sexually attracted to this not-too-pretty women beside me and remembered thinking as we walked down the streets in Paris and London; “Why is everyone staring at us.” Later that night as we lay in bed, sweat glistening all over our bodies, I asked her: “Are you supposed to be hot in your country?” She didn’t say anything, but she took out her phone and started showing me all the guys she’s slept with and the current contenders who are trying to bed her: A Mexican and a Dutchy. She have also told everyone about everyone.

“What kind of cruel game is she playing with everyone’s heart?” I had thought and just brushed it aside as an European thing cause I couldn’t deal with this weird extreme open view on sex and relationship at that time. I mean, if I was the Mexican or the Dutch guy at that moment knowing what she was traveling with me, I’d feel like shit. But apparently they know.

Most fun summer of my life probably. Gemma was extremely open to new experiences and she is a very sweet, submissive girl. Never complaints about the conditions of the environment we are in. Whether it’d be a shitty hole in the wall, or on top of a cliff with nothing but bread and water for lunch. She loved all. Almost reminds me of high school romances.

Ironically, she left me for a rich old man as I was starting to convince myself that it actually might be ok to make a baby with her. Alles ist gut. I suppose. I do not believe anyone can hold a free spirit like her. Wish her the best of luck in life and best of things for her.