Day 41 - Sickness and Remedies

Saturday, March 19th, 2016
Smog Level: 1/3 Mountains

Well, I’m sick and we don’t have very much planned for today. It’s nice to have nothing to plan around, all the time in the world to get the procrastinated writing done. Even as I write this, there’s another one looming over my head. Part of me kicks myself for saying yes to writing random side things, while the other thinks it’s a good thing to push myself. You can get lost in too much time. In the same token, that’s why busy people get more done than people with lots of free time - there's a lot more pressure for you to fit things into small time spaces. Parkinson’s law - work expands to fill the amount of time allotted to it - is still alive and well.

If you wonder why I repeat this sort of stuff so often, it’s as much to convince you as to drill it home for myself. These sort of continual semi-epiphanies that often fade with time and need to be laser-burned into my retinas. I’m also a little worried that once this all pays off and I have the time to slack off.. that either I won’t be able to enjoy it because I’ll continue pushing myself, or that I’ll get soft in the slack. Problem for Future Phil. There's enough other things to focus on for today.

Yesterday was my Dad’s birthday, meaning I should probably Skype home and say happy birthday. I tried last night immediately after finishing writing, but only my Mom was able to pick up. My Mom’s great, and I think she’s where I get my sense of humor from… though, I don’t think she’s as twisted as me or my sister can be. This is actually my first time calling home, shamefully enough. I should probably call more. 

And so I did! The very next morning to say hello to a house full of people and catch up with my sister. It’s good to talk to them again, as it’s been, well, over a month since we’ve had a live conversation that wasn’t over text.

What did I do the rest of the day? Alternated between reading comics, writing, and napping. Nice

Chinese Remedies

Just an Old Man going Fishing
Chinese remedies for illness flummox me. Just take a trip into a Chinese medicine store and you’ll see all sorts of teas for all sorts of illnesses, perhaps mushrooms, and other things I haven’t come across yet.

Removing toxins from the body is as alive here as in the west, probably more so. I don’t believe in much of that, honestly, because if we were unable to eliminate toxins from our bodies, we’d probably die long before we actually do. How do we eliminate toxins? Exercise, eat vegetables, drink lots of water and tea, and stop ingesting garbage food and drink. It gets more complicated of course, but doing that, you’ll probably be fine. Not here, it would seem.

They have these little cups that they burn incense/flowers in, and stick them on your skin. As the air cools, it creates a vacuum on your skin and is said to “pull the toxins out of your skin.” I haven't witnessed this, but I'm wondering if there's anything that actually comes out, or if it's just the big, circular bruise that results.

I’ve been told that all sorts of teas are good for your sore throat, which… yeah, hot liquid tends to be good for your throat, so long as it doesn’t dry it out.

They seem to believe that hot water is healthier for you than cold water. I have yet to be given an answer on exactly what it’s better for you in. Is it better for circulation? Better on your digestive system, and if so, what way? Here’s my best theory on the “hot water = great for you” theory. I stumbled across this when I was scorned for giving a woman a cold drink while she was on her period. This is incredibly stupid of me - obviously! Cramps tend to happen around the time of the month, and cramping can be caused from tensed up muscles. Heat causes muscles to relax, and drinking hot liquids makes you hotter, mainly in the abdomen... I guess. 

One of the few pieces of Street Art I've found
So they may have seen “hot helps here, hot must be good in general” as humans tend to over-exaggerate findings. It can be so exaggerated that Shimou said her mom wouldn’t even let her wash her hands with cold water when it was “that time.” Who am I to argue with one of the most populated countries on the planet? Again, I'm just guessing. I hear that, in general, they don't think it's wise to wash your hands with cold water.

The general idea of health here seems very different from back home. Fitness myths, for instance, seem like they’re alive and well. Spot reduction? Oh yeah, totally a thing. By that, I mean getting a “flat stomach” through excessive ab exercises. Tip: that’s entirely bogus. One of my Chinese friends said he wanted to bulk up; his goal for doing so was eating less meat, and exercising more. The exercises were aerobics videos.

The main reason I thought to do this was because Shimou had made me apple pear tea. Apple pears look like apples, but are particularly juicy, like pears. They’re a pale yellow. She boiled one in sugar water, which is supposed to help with my throat. She also made me egg pudding, which is a whisked egg that’s been steamed and seasoned with black pepper and soy sauce. I’m not the biggest fan of the consistency of eggs, especially when runny, but it tasted good enough. Between those things and all the tea, there wasn’t much medicine, just nutrition.

Those are all the ones I can think of for now, but will throw more out there as they happen.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
police officer - jǐngchá [jing - cha] or [ji-ung - cha] depending on accent
chef - chúshī [chew - she/shuh/shurr] again, accents. Beijing tends to add R's to stuff = {chew - shurr]

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