Thursday, 30 September 2010

2nd Hand Start

As you may have noticed if you're a regular reader, I've become somewhat interested in Eco things. Don't be afraid, I haven't suddenly started wearing hemp underpants, what's happened is I've become very poor. This major factor, combined with my staying for some time with friends who actually do care whether polar bears live or die has led me to start thinking about the products I buy on a daily/weekly basis.

I have this moral overhaul at least once a year. Usually I intend to buy Eco-friendly Christmas presents wrapped in homemade papyrus, and then I forget about it for another year. This year however, I have run out of money entirely, which is something that doesn't happen very often. I have found myself having to think about leftovers, or walking instead of getting the bus. Don't get me wrong, I'm not willfully wasteful, but growing up in a family who had nothing really makes you resent having to mend and make-do. Throwing out old shoes gives me some sort of perverse pleasure. Turning the heating on when I'm cold fills me with huge joy. Knowing that I'm not allowed to do these things now is making me sulk quite a bit. That's where the "Eco" bit comes in.

Labelling "being poor" as "caring for the environment" really shuffles my brain into action. Imagine a magician dealing cards. That's what my thoughts look like. "Just get another one" turns into "what can we use instead?" and "I want a take-away" magically morphs into "I want a take-away, but I'm not fucking allowed one, I'll just make some mash". It makes being poor seem a lot more rewarding. I haven't bought a Nestlé product in over a week - mainly because I haven't bought anything in over a week - but the sentiment is there. If you look for it. Even downloading music can become Eco-friendly; after all, if I bought a CD I wanted, there'd be all that plastic and packaging. Sure, there's legal downloads, but that means using my credit card, and I read somewhere that that was against the Eco off-the-grid rules. Pick and choose your morals carefully. You'll never have to buy anything again.

Along the way, I've learned how to make kinder washing powder, I've developed a strong inclination to possibly begin to start learning how to crochet, I still haven't learned how to drive, and I've written a list of things I want from charity shops. Being Eco friendly is easy.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Supreme Master and the Breatharianists

If you've got Sky in the UK, turn over to channel 835. "Supreme Master Ching Hai" is a property magnate and designer from Taiwan who has channelled some of her money energy into creating a TV channel where she spreads the word of the Quan Yin method - a type of Buddhism.

Ching Hai herself has been criticised by leaders of the Buddhist faith for her ostentatious dress and money-making schemes, along with several strange appearances in public (one in particular was on "Ching Hai" Day, where she was carried aloft on a throne wearing regal robes, said to have been suggested by God himself). Her followers however, number in the region of 20,000 worldwide, and are drawn to her policies on peace, love, and veganism.

The nightly news is what attracted me to her show. Headlines such as "Koala Bears are still cute, and eat bamboo" have the ability to stop you in your tracks (with or without the added bonus that Koalas do no such thing). Seemingly endless stories about schools opening and animals being saved from trees, translated into 12 languages and with ten minutes of options for viewers who's mother language has not been catered for once the news finishes, is quite a sight to behold. On a backdrop of a rising sun, Ching Hai appears occasionally to spread a sentence of wisdom. This wisdom is the type of words-in-a-line wonder that makes you go "wow" when you're drunk and you hear it in a song at 2am.

Don't just take my disparaging remarks as fact though - visit her website, enticingly named or perhaps you might like to buy some of her heavenly items at - remembering of course that one of the essential pre-requisites of being a successful Buddhist is to disregard your earthly possessions. A $1,500 diamond necklace doesn't seem too helpful as a heavenly purchase, when you come to think about it.

It's all too easy to sit and pontificate about how self-proclaimed religious leaders are a danger to people of a certain unstable or needy disposition, but perhaps if believing in Ching Hai makes people happy, they should be left to it. There is that school of thought, of course. Once you discover the extreme lengths scholars of the Quan Yin method go to in order to achieve great enlightenment, however, the more tolerant in society start to shake their heads and boiled with rage.

Breatharianism, Aquarianism and Fruitarianism are three types of religious control and abstention, portrayed in an extremely positive light on the Supreme Master TV channel.

[Supreme Master Ching Hai, presumably on the phone to God]

Breatharianism, for those who aren't aware of this "phenomenon", is the practice of giving up food entirely, and surviving only on air and the energy found naturally in the world. Aquarianism is the practice of living solely on air and water.

I wonder if you've fully taken in how absurd the last two sentences I just wrote are. "Surviving only on air and the energy found naturally in the world". Breatharians and Aquariums (I couldn't resist) therefore believe that sunlight and being near trees can sustain them enough for them to live a normal and healthy life. Not only to they believe this, they encourage others to follow suit. Warning messages on the show claim viewers "should not try to live a life without food without competent guidance".

"Competent guidance". Wiley Brooks is a breatharian tutor, and displays his teachings on the website alongside links where you can donate money to his church of ascension. Brooks subscribes to the idea that a human can live a full life in a non-polluted atmosphere without the need for food or liquids. As a sort of two-for-one deal for non-believers, he also believes food came down to earth in the form of an intergalactic ice-cream, used by aliens as a celestial drug.

When asked then, why he had been pictured on holiday with a MacDonald's double cheeseburger meal and a diet coke, he responded with this amazing paragraph of what-the-fuckery:
"IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, THE WAS GOD’ .or something like that. I’ll get the correct quote in time
The secret in the diet coke is the "LIQUID LIGHT" Duh!!!!
The type of plastic and quantity of it combined with the diet coke equals the base frequency of its liquid light.
I know that was a long answer, but what can I say?"

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm watching Supreme Master's TV show. Somebody needs to debunk the items of "news" that she plays. I just hope nobody gets hurt by these displays of complete moronity. Just in case you were wondering, any breatharian who has been subjected to scientific analysis who has not given in to eating food for sustainance, has died.

Is there a religious PCC I can call?

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Freeganism and Skipping - Saving the world, one cabbage at a time

Skipping - The art of getting into massive industrial bins to find the gold at the bottom.

The first thing I noticed was the irony of the word "pride" printed on a cardboard box inside the skip I was about to root through for food. The man working in the carpentry workshop across the car park was paying absolutely zero notice of the two freegans - myself and my good friend PK - rummaging through the crates outside of the local fruit and veg cash and carry, and combined with the friendly wave from one of the vegetable shop employees this was a good enough reception for me to stop my silly snobbery and get my hands dirty.

The thing about Skipping is that good things can be found, if you only look for them. The cash and carry we visited is used to having waste-hating types rescuing lettuces from certain disposal, and so they try to keep the best produce together and upright, at the top of the bin. Apart from a couple of broken eggs, our delving was rewarded with mostly tasty offerings; so much so in fact, that we had plenty left for the next opportunistic hippies to help themselves to, too.

There are, of course, legal implications to Skipping. The Greggs nearest to us has taken to locking their bins up in metal cages to stop us local free-wheelers from nabbing ourselves a couple of loaves of bread, and several supermarkets have been noted as using CCTV to prosecute freegans for Trespassing - despite it being an unwritten rule that you only take what would be disposed of without your interference. You have to be careful if you want to live for free. You have to be prepared to climb a lot of fences, and run from a lot of security lights. You have to stand on a lot of pallets, and you have to pretend you're doing something illegal a lot of the time (it makes it more exciting than just going to get carrots out of a bin).

After your first trip (which will provide you with perhaps two potatoes and an onion) you get to understand what's worth taking, and what you can find if you look hard enough. On my first Skipping trip I found a motherload of fennel, a vegetable I had never tried before. Turns out I love it. The beauty of finding your food is that you never know what you're going to have; your menus become as varied as the food you're rescuing from a fate at the dump, and you eat a lot more foods you wouldn't normally try. Sometimes there'll be a glut of teacakes - sometimes it'll be sweet potatoes. Buy enough spices in bulk from your local international supermarket, and you could be quite literally on your way to eating a different meal every day of the year!

Sifting through rubbish doesn't sound like everyone's ideal way to spend an evening, but the sense of achievement you get sometimes from saving a kilo of mushrooms or a box of Proscuttio (this has happened!) outweighs any self-consciousness you might suffer. You're cutting down on wastage! You're getting a free shopping trip! You're eating more vegetables to boot!

I keep mentioning vegetables, because they seem to be the most receptive to freegan pilferings (and they get visited by the most by freegans - after all, most of them are poor and vegan) but there are always hidden gems in any town. Cafe's for bread rolls, round the back of Subway for condiments....a friend of mine once found a pristine box of 24 in-date and still-chilled Muller Fruit Corners in a skip outside Somerfields. It all depends on where you look, and who you Skip with. I still need my PK to show me what to do, I'm short and I have terrible eyesight. A major shortfall in this type of endeavour, when skips can be five-feet high and you visit them at night.For your first few excursions, I would definitely recommend asking around for people who Skip too. They know where it's safe to skip, who has the best loot, and who makes it easy for you. Do not, on any account, go by yourself to a 24 hour Tesco depot wearing a ninja outfit and expect not to get arrested.

Here are PK's tips on how to go about saving the world, in the food sense:
1. If you're going somewhere hard to go, plan a bit ahead
2. Don't take unnecessary rinks
3. Don't try and persuade a "man on the inside" to chuck good food out - this isn't worth people losing their jobs over
4. Don't take more than you need - it'll only get wasted by you, and might as well have been left in the skip
5. Leave it tidy, and respect the businesses you're Skipping from. If you leave it a mess they'll know you've been, and will tighten security - or if they let people Skip, make sure you thank them by tidying up after yourself!
6. Skipping isn't worth getting into trouble over. Don't get greedy, and stay away if you have doubts about the security measures of a premises.
7. If there's loads of good things that you can't take, leave it easy for others to get to. They'd do it for you!

I'd love to know if any of you are Skippers, or if you go on a trip out after reading this. Let me know!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

How to tell if you are getting old.

There are some fail safe rules passed down through the generations to tell if you are far away from being a spring chicken.

Unless I am very much mistaken, since I apply to most of them, I should be at least 15 years older than I am. Expect this list to grow as I think of some more.

1. Policemen start looking too young to protect you against the stabby yoovs.

2. Hollyoaks has a cast consisting of people who speak a language you feel strangely removed from, and around 60% of whom appear so young that they should be doing their homework instead of cavorting around in short skirts/trilby hats.

3. Teenagers are irritating and terrifying in equal measures.

4. You catch yourself talking enthusiastically about the best duvet covers with people who are equally excited about the prospect of cheap egyptian cotton bedsheets, while at a music festival.

5. Drinking becomes enjoyable instead of a means to an end. Being sick at the end of the night becomes a waste of money.

6. You become genuinely concerned about under-dressed girls at the weekend because they might get cold. You also feel that they are wearing too much make-up, and hope they know how to use their shoes as weapons against rapists.

7. FINALLY, people you know are tired of talking about TV programmes they used to watch.

8. You lust after a gadget that actually does something useful.

9. The music in clubs is TOO LOUD WHAT DID YOU SAY? WHAT? YEAH! WHAT? OH FUck this I'm going for a cig.

10. Buying better pasta as a treat. You are buying better pasta as a TREAT. What are you doing?
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