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This is an outrage.

I’m sick. Again. It has been a tense year, and instead of my usual allocation of 1–2 viral infections over a twelve-month period, I’ve racked up four this year so far. The last three have been in the last three months, which a degree of frequency heretofore unseen. There’s not a lot to be done about this, apart from resting and taking it slow. The amount of energy I have to exert on fuming alone is draining. I am being super cautious with this third virus: I’m not riding my bike, not going to music lessons, staying quietly at home and not making a fuss. I suspect that the virus feeds on fun, so I’m simply cutting all fun things out of my life for the time being.

To try and make peace with this enforced couch-time, I’m sorting through various jobs that need taking care of. Jobs that I can do sitting on my butt, specifically. In order to prove my ongoing merit as an individual, despite apparent limitations posed by the horizontalisation this spree of viruses requires, I invite you to consider this list of Things I Did While Sick:

  1. Caught up on all my overdue RSS feeds. Time-consuming and very satisfying.
  2. Researched the crap out of making my own pasta. I am a passable pasta maker, although I must admit I get flour EVERYWHERE and end up with fragile and often-overcooked noodles. Sometimes great, sometimes not so. Thus I’ve been researching what I’m doing right and/or wrong, and I am formulating some plans for improvement. I have an elaborate scheme involving eggs and scales and autolysation and I can tell you right now, it’s going to be a hoot and we’re going to have the best goddamn noodles my kitchen can muster.
  3. Bought new bras and shoes. Two tasks I deeply resent ever having to do ever, and yet here we are. I took advantage of my own weakened state and bullied myself into buying some bras and shoes so that I can get dressed in the mornings without ranting about the hateful transience of such goods. We can put people on the moon but we can’t make bras or shoes that remain flawless and supportive for nine or more years. Anyway, the task is done, and hopefully you won’t have to hear me complain about it for another few years. I am slowly coming to terms with the transient/consumable nature of my clothing,especially shoes: my legs tell me unambiguously if the shoes I’m wearing are no longer supportive or cushiony enough, and it is not worth my arguing with that kind of data. Anyway, now I’ve got a pretty reliable list of brands that don’t use leather or sweatshop labour, it’s less of a drag than it used to be. Still, though: good to have it done.
  4. Researched animal rennet in cheese. If you’re a budding vegetarian, you might not know about rennet. Rennet is an enzyme that you use to set the curd in cheese making. Traditionally, it is harvested from calves’ stomachs: since this can’t be done without killing the calf, you can take it as given that cheeses that use animal rennet are not vegetarian. (Want some really bad news? Parmigiano reggiano. Under protected designation of origin regulations, if it says ‘parmigiano reggiano’, it uses animal rennet.) There are also non-animal sources of rennet, like the kind I use in cheesemaking at home. Most cheeses are made with animal rennet, and if the ingredients don’t specify, I usually play it safe and avoid it. But since I was on my butt all weekend, I did some research and sent some emails about some of the common cheeses available in supermarkets around these parts. Lion Co, who own South Cape, Mersey Valley, Coon, King Island Dairy, Tasmanian Heritage, Cracker Barrel and Mil Lel (these peeps seem to know their stuff) emailed me right back: they tell me that King Island Dairy, Tasmanian Heritage and most South Cape cheeses are not vegetarian. However, Coon and Cracker Barrel are, and so are some of the South Cape and Mersey Valley cheeses: in general, they wrote, if the label says “enzyme (rennet)”, that means it’s not vegetarian. But if it says just “enzyme”, that means they’ve used non-animal rennet and I should stuff myself silly with its cheesy deliciousness in good conscience. Good to know! Next stop: check the labels of Mil Lel parmesan and hope like buggery that they’re “enzyme” and not “enzyme (rennet)” because it’s good cheese and it’s available at my local!
  5. Updated and sorted my new favourite task management tool, Org mode for Emacs. I’ve got colour-coded tasks, tags, ideas and records. It keeps track of everything I’ve done and fills me with self-congratulations. As a subitem, I also taught myself how to make and use a keyboard macro in Emacs, which is pretty damn clever of me.
  6.  Perfected my coughing skills. To ensure minimal damage to ribs and core muscles and limit how much droplet infection you share with the world, prepare yourself for your coughing! Sit or stand straight, wrap your sleeve around your face so your muzzle is in your elbow ditch, and let fly. I have been coughing for nearly four days and nights now, and I am a master.
  7. Amused myself by reading up on molecular gastronomy. You almost had me, you molecular boffins, until you started talking about ‘croissant foam‘ and then I just felt offended.There are some fair whacking gobs of talent in that arena, but it is way beyond what I’m prepared to do for a tasty and exciting meal. For now. As time goes on and I become inured to the everyday pleasures of homemade pasta and fresh yoghurt, perhaps I will seek greater adventures in food preparation. Maybe that’s why these dishes are so bizarro: you can only do some many Eggs California before you start really wanting to push the envelope. These chefs are like culinary Cenobites, so far down the path of challenging themselves that they no longer know what’s fun or delicious anymore
  8. Comprehensively researched corn tortillas. I can make wheat tortillas like nobody’s business, even when I’m sick, but I’ve not had much luck with corn tortillas. Seeing al the tabs open on my browser (and there were many) and recalling his own experiences trying to make corn meal and maize flour work in place of masa harina (they don’t), M took pity on me—on both of us, really—and ordered some masa harina. Here come tacos, baby.

So you can see, while the focus of my productivity shifts when I’m ailing, I nonetheless uphold the level of dedication and competency I always aspire to. In conclusion, when I get better, you will immediately recognise my verticalised,well-read, boob-lifted, well-shod self by the trail of taco crumbs and empty pasta bowls in my wake. I have every reason to live! LET’S GO IMMUNE SYSTEM.

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