a tale of two hands (and a toothbrush)

I think there are certain things that we do all the time that we never question, or never stop to wonder about. For me, I’m quite likely to question and wonder about these things eventually. It might take years and years, but one day, maybe in a half-awake daze, I’ll wonder, “why is it that I do this like this?”

One such habit that has come under scrutiny is the way I rinse my toothbrush after using it. (Can you tell this is going to be a riveting post?)

Firstly, a bit of background: I’m right-handed. When I was a kid, I tried to learn to be ambidextrous, but that proved too hard. I can write very slowly with my left hand, and also use chopsticks left-handed, so that’s something, but I generally leave everything up to the right hand.

That is, everything except rinsing my toothbrush.

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lockdown cut-down

I have found an unexpected benefit from this whole lockdown situation, and it involves coffee.

Prior to lockdown, I would get coffee from the hospital cafe on most days that I work. When lockdown rules came into place, they no longer allowed use of keep-cups. An understandable rule, but this has been one of the greatest disappointments of all.

At first, I continued to get take-away coffees, now in disposable cups, but eventually the guilt got to me. I decided to cut back.

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one more bite

A bite-size post about bite-size food that I still take multiple bites from…

This is kind of an extension to a post I wrote a couple of years ago about my slow eating. I’ve been noticing that there are a lot of bite-size things that I am still compelled to consume in multiple bites. Here is a provisional list:

  • Scallops (possibly my favourite seafood, so of course I’m gonna savour it)
  • Dried figs (I once tried to count how many bites I took, and got to about ten (?))
  • Oreos
  • Squares of Lindt chocolate blocks (or similar)
  • Strawberries (but I will sometimes eat them in one bite)
  • Grapes with seeds
  • Meatballs
  • Fudge
  • Dumplings (apart from the ones that have soup/broth in them)

There are some bite-size things that I will eat in one bite. This is mostly because it would be impractical to bite them (e.g. oysters, cherry tomatoes), or because it would decrease the enjoyment of said food (e.g. chocolate balls or the chocolate you get in boxes – I know people who will eat these in two bites because they want to see the filling, but I think it’s much better to just eat it all at once).

every night

I had the day off work today (Friday), so I took the opportunity to go to the dentist. I could tell that that was not the answer my colleagues were expecting when they asked me yesterday (or earlier in the week) what I would be doing with my day off. But I was certainly well overdue for another check-up, and I don’t mind dentist visits much. (It probably helps that my dentist is also my sister.)

It was all pretty routine, I suppose – just a check and clean, and she referred me for an x-ray to check the existence (or otherwise) of my wisdom teeth. Supposedly I’d chipped a tooth, but she buffed and polished that. Also seems like I might be grinding my teeth a bit (probably in my sleep – sometimes I have pretty stressful dreams, so I’m not that surprised) but otherwise things seemed ok.

Lying in the dentist’s chair this morning, staring up at the light thing they use, and at the picture of a forest on the ceiling, I thought about how good it feels to be doing something for my health. For that reason, I quite like the idea of regular check-ups, even if they don’t find anything “wrong”. Surely the reassurance and peace of mind is just as valuable as getting an early diagnosis.

It was kind of in this mindset that I was able to create the habit of flossing every day. I will admit that, up until some time earlier this year, I actually did not floss my teeth every day (please don’t tell my sister). I mean, I did floss before then but it was inconsistent – maybe every two days or I’d skip a day here and there.

When I was first introduced to the concept of flossing, I thought it was tedious, time-consuming and mostly not worth the effort. As time went on, and I became more aware of the importance of good oral hygiene, I put a bit more effort into it, and I suppose I got better at it (?) Practice makes perfect, after all.

Eventually, I made a pact with myself. I wasn’t going to self-impose a rule about flossing every night, but I would have to, without fail, floss if I had eaten out and/or eaten lots of sugary treats that day. This, I believed, would have the added benefit of acting as a deterrent against eating out too much and against eating too much sugar. For the most part, I think it worked quite well, except that I didn’t really change my eating out or sugar habits. Instead, I flossed more. (Honestly, though, I don’t go out that much – too hermit-y for that – and I’d like to think I’ve got some measure of self-control when it comes to sugar.)

I also made a pact that if I was going to sleep in the next morning, I should floss the night before so that my teeth are nice and clean for the 9-12 hours of dormancy between going to bed and having breakfast. (Actually, 12 is probably a bit much; I don’t think I ever sleep more than 10 hours at a stretch. Even 9 sounds like a lot. Gosh, I usually only get 6.5-7 hours during the week, so a nice round 8 would generally suffice.)

The over-arching guiding principle in my strategy for making flossing a regular habit was the idea of sustainability. I’ve never been “on a diet” myself, but I know there’s no point “going on a diet” if it’s not a sustainable long-term change. And it’s the same with exercise: if you set out to do exercises you don’t enjoy, you’ll probably give up after a couple of weeks. Of course, this is nothing new – it gets preached every year in the lead up to New Year.

Unfortunately for flossing, there isn’t really an alternative. You have to brush, and you have to floss. But I made time for flossing, integrating it into my routine, and then somewhere along the line, my mentality toward flossing changed. Now it feels weird to go to bed without flossing. Even if it’s late and I’m dead tired, I will floss. It really doesn’t take long (as I said, practice makes perfect).

I realise that this was a rather unusual thing to write a post about, but I figured that if I can write one about the joys of running, or about the joys of eating well (not sure if I’ve ever actually done that – written a post about eating well, that is, not the eating well part itself – but hypothetically I could), then surely I can write this post, which is essentially about the rewarding feeling you get from looking after yourself.

universal

I’ve already mentioned in a previous post that I don’t drink coffee very often, and I still don’t, but I’ve been yawning a lot these last couple of days, so I thought it was a good day for a coffee – just to finish off the work week.

Just as a bit of background, I’m one of those odd people who work full-time and never consume pre-work or mid-work caffeinated beverages of any sort. Caffeine seems to have very variable effects for me – sometimes it will make me hyperactive, sometimes it’ll do absolutely nothing, and sometimes I get the diuretic/dehydration effects without the alertness – so I never thought it was worth it to have a morning coffee routine. Generally, for me, coffee is a “now and then” treat, like how some people might have ice-cream or a milkshake or something (I would’ve written cake as well, but I’m not going to kid myself about that!)

Side note: I’ll eat ice-cream whenever the opportunity presents itself, but I tend to avoid milkshakes (and thickshakes) because the very thought of the empty calories makes me sick, but I don’t seem to care about ice-cream calories (???)

Today’s coffee came from Outer Space Espresso in the Valley, which, thankfully, is neither in outer space or weirdly space themed. It’s just that it’s outside. I like the name; thought it was clever. Anyway, it’s a lovely place, and it would have been perfect on a cool, sunny day like today except that we got full-on gale force winds or something, making outdoor activities of any kind just frickin’ annoying (except, I guess, anything kite-related).

For anyone who cares, Outer Space serve Toby’s Estate coffee. Since I don’t drink coffee very often, I don’t think I’m anywhere near qualified to distinguish between a good coffee and an amazing coffee, but I will say that that first sip put such a smile on my face. I have been told by coffee enthusiasts that the perfect coffee should be ready to drink – you shouldn’t have to wait for it to cool down a bit, and it certainly should not scald your tongue ever. By this criteria, I suppose my coffee today was “perfect”.

Well, I don’t think I’ve ever written a post about a place just because they had great coffee, so for me to be writing this now must mean that they did a pretty good job, right? And the service was good too (always an important determinant of whether I’ll return or not).

While I sipped at my coffee, I started pondering about other people’s coffee routines and habits. I thought it was interesting that it’s something that’s commonly consumed alone, but also equally commonly consumed with company – both seem to be socially acceptable. This ubiquitous beverage is also perfect for just about every occasion: whether cramming for an exam or relaxing with a good book; having a business meeting or just a casual catch-up. And it’s served and consumed at all hours of the day. I know some people find the concept of post-dinner coffee a bit ridiculous, but restaurants must offer it for a reason!

What I do find ridiculous is that every morning on my way to work, I see high school students buying and drinking coffee. Every time I see a kid in school uniform (yes, you might be a teenager, but I’m going to call you a “kid” anyway) holding a coffee cup, I kind of cringe a bit. I certainly never had coffee during high school – never needed coffee – and didn’t know anyone my age who consumed it on a regular basis. It just makes me question what’s going on with kids these days. Maybe I’m just a bit out of touch with that generation?

Meh…

To be clear, I don’t have anything against people who drink coffee every day (perhaps multiple times a day) and rely on it. I won’t judge you (unless you’re a high school student, but then I’ll probably just wonder what sort of crazy schedules are being imposed on you that you need to drink coffee at your age).

There have been many studies conducted and articles written about the pros and cons of coffee in relation to health and well-being, but there’s so much conflicting research that I generally don’t pay attention to it. It’s the same for wine, chocolate and other good things in life. People want to try to justify it health-wise, but I reckon if you enjoy it, then it doesn’t matter – just have reasonable limits and stick to them (most of the time).

every morning

It’s been a very long week… Feels like a very long time since I posted here… I’ve been filling in for my manager at work this week, which has meant 7am starts every day, which has meant getting up before the sun every morning. I’m actually quite pleased that I haven’t been late at all this week. (I was going to say “pleasantly surprised” but, when I think about it, it’s not really that much of a surprise.)

It’s been nice watching the sunrise every morning. That orange glow just reaffirms why orange is my most favourite colour. It’s also nice that it’s actually decently cold that early in the morning. I like my winters to actually feel like winter.

I’ve often wondered if I’m more of a morning person or an evening/night person, but I can’t seem to put myself definitively in either category. I don’t mind early starts at work, and I don’t usually sleep in very late on my days off, but getting up early is still a bit of a pain. Having said that, however, once I’m up and I’ve had breakfast, I’m ready for anything. On the other hand, nighttime productivity is quite variable, but unless I’m super tired or sleep-deprived, I can generally stay up quite late.

That preamble turned out a bit longer than I expected… What I was getting to was that, because of these incredibly early starts, I’ve been mostly eating cereal for breakfast this last week (except this morning when I had oats) because cereal is probably the quickest and easiest breakfast for me to have. As such, I’ve had a lot of time to think about cereal and my cereal-eating habits.

At first, I didn’t think that this was something worth documenting on my blog, but I had a random conversation about cereal with some coworkers the other day (and it wasn’t me who brought it up) and I realised that people like talking about eating habits – even for something as seemingly simple as cereal. It’s not something that comes up too often, but it could be for that very reason that people are keen to give their two cents’ worth when it does come up. (Feel free to add your two cents’ worth if you feel so inclined.)

Sorry, preamble just got longer… But you must understand that I can’t simply post a list of my cereal eating habits without adequate introduction – people will think I’m crazy …or bored …or both (I will neither confirm or deny any of those possibilities)

There are two cereals that are essential to my cereal-eating: Weetbix and Nutrigrain. I never eat just one type of cereal, unless that is absolutely all that is available to me. I always have 2-3 Weetbix, which I place in the bowl first (and I always use the same sized bowl). I then fill the bowl to the brim with milk (although I’ve been trying to exercise a bit more restraint here and not use as much milk), and then add the Nutrigrain, which I proceed to eat in lots of three per spoonful. (I don’t know – they just seem to fit nicely in lots of three…)

More often than not, I will have a third cereal, such as Weetbix Crunch or Milo cereal (or something else that I’ve momentarily forgotten the name of) that I add after finishing Nutrigrain. (Pro tip: Milo and Weetbix go really well together)

Those of you playing along at home (don’t know why you would, but ok…) may remark at this stage that the Weetbix is undoubtedly soggy by now. That, of course, is the point of my putting it in first. I do, however, quite like crunchy Weetbix and will eat one bix before adding Nutrigrain if I start off with three bix in the bowl. Hope I haven’t completely lost you all by now (or earlier)

I think my longer entries are a good reflection of the things that I’m really passionate about. Either that or they’re really good for pinpointing the times in my life that I’m perhaps slightly delirious and have little better to do than write amazingly long posts that are rather disproportionate to the weight of the issue discussed.