Thursday, 24 July 2014

Between Shifting & Shattering Paradigms As I Cook Dinner — On Fast Food, Fluoride, and What ‘Work’ Really Is

Shot by Omar Cherif in Santa Monica, California
Reaching L.A in California after roaming around the U.S for a few months, I got to connect with my 83-year-old uncle Dr. Bitash, or simply Toutou. He is the husband of my mother's only sister and they have been living here since they left Egypt in the mid 60s. The man is a true savant with an extraordinary memory, and listening to his stories is like taking a magical trip through history, which always leaves me with a whole lot of new information as well as a few things to ponder on.

As sort of interviews, I already wrote this first Piece then followed by another One, though they are both in Arabic since it's about the history of Egypt.

This time, however, I'm not interviewing him but I'm trying to understand his mentality. After all, he was born in 1933 and that's 44 years before my time. In general, I love all elders and enjoy spending time with them. I enjoy listening to their stories, what they have gone through, and how life was different back then. And it's even more enjoyable if they are natural-born storytellers who only repeat themselves on occasions.
I actually hold that it's healthy to spend time with people over 80 and kids below 10 because you do learn a lot from them.

Obviously I knew Toutou all my life but I never really had the chance to spend much time or bond with him since he resided in the States. My close friends have always told me that there is a 50-year-old man inside of me, and I think an intergenerational friendship had started between him and this amazing human.

Earlier this week I came to stay with Dr. Toutou, and since my aunt is visiting Egypt and we are all alone in the house we got to speak about all sorts of things. We're in the quite area of the Valley so, nothing much to do and it's ridiculously hot outside. I hear that it could get 20 degrees hotter than where I was before by the beach in Venice and Santa Monica.

In most of the topics I'm merely a listener, simply because he knows much more than I do. In other 'newer' topics I find myself sometimes facing an old mentality which is the initial reason why I'm writing this. Not as a sort of complaint in any way, shape or form, but as an attempt to understand the human mind and the concept of ageing.

The conversation between us keeps flowing smoothly for hours at a time, it's not like I sit there craming my heads with all these thoughts and not enjoy the moment with him, and I'm only reflecting upon them now as I write.

We know that it's usually hard to change the mentality of old people, so I did not attempt it with Toutou. It just happened that among a wide array of topics we got to discuss, 'health' was one of them.

One the second day, he mentioned today's lunch and asked if I wanted KFC because they make this bucket and I don't know what. He seemed excited, so I nicely said that he can have some and I'll eat something else because I don't really eat junk or fried food. He then gently said forget about it and we ended with a healthier grilled chicken. Since then, and during the rest of my stay, I cook for us almost daily and all the food is fairly healthy.

The engaging conversation led us a few times to McDonald's and KFC, Fluoride in water, marijuana as well as what "working" means for the both of us.

From what I already know through personal research, today's McDonald's and KFC can merely be called food because of all the chemicals used in making them. In actual fact, only 15% is real beef in McDonald's, the rest are the fatty parts that are washed in ammonium hydroxide and used as fillers. Before this process, the meat is deemed unfit for human consumption. This toxicity may actually be OK with many, considering the 99 cent-prices and the fact that their outlets are insanely everywhere.

I had stopped eating any junk food many years ago and likely never will again. But to reach where I am now concerning these habits happened gradually, and it started with a trust issue towards big corporations. The thing is, when they become so huge their sole philosophy becomes money, it's all about profit not quality. So shit happens.

I remember my first shock was the guy from Utah who kept his Big Mac for 14 years and still looked intact.

The second was the horse meat scandal a couple of years ago in the U.K, Burger King, IKEA AND Taco Bell. How stable from the meat providers! (pun certainly intended)

This was alarming because it was hitting closer to home. Burger King was my preferred in the burger world and I had eaten there in England a few times; and, I once ate at IKEA, in Canada...but still.

Then last year it was the yoga mat material (Azodicarbonamide) in Subways' bread. Subways too!

The thing is that the above are not just stories in newspapers or hoaxes stirred up by envious competitors, but are real cases that are taken to court and the "corporations" have actually confessed about all such gibberish found in their food. So the question is, how can we trust them again?

By the time I quit altogether I had already been cooking everyday. This allowed me to eat healthy and to get creative with food, because one can always learn new recipes and make new dishes. And that's exactly what I'm doing here during my stay with Toutou, especially after learning that during the yearly three months when my aunt isn't around he eats either from Carl Jr. or McDonald's. This major life change was not only for health reasons, but also because cooking is a lot of fun.

Just yesterday I made oxtail soup with oxtail and white rice which he had never eaten before. It takes three and a half hours to make, but if you're into cooking you know it's all worth it to cook and feed someone you care about — and I learned this by how I get ecstatic to cook for old friends and show them my newly-acquired skills.

Bear in mind, however, that fast food's bad effects cannot really be sensed if eating it only occasionally. I remember before quitting completely I would feast once every few months on some KFC bucket or a Double Whopper. I would get naked (figuratively...or not) and oily and greasy and simply indulge. But taken on a regular basis and/or in great quantities, fast food's hazards can really be detrimental to our health. You know it has always been considered to be the unhealthiest option ever for a reason.

I think quitting for me also had a moral aspect to it. I couldn't be against their health choices or how they treat their underpaid employees then go eat there. So boycotting felt like the right thing to do.

For the topic of fluoride (sodium fluoride), there is absolutely no medical reason for its existence in drinking water or anywhere. It is historically known that fluoride was used in Nazi Concentration camps and the gulags in Siberia to keep their prisoners docile and easy to control. Comprehensive studies have shown that it is a powerful central nervous system (CNS) toxin and can adversely affect human brain functioning even at low doses; it causes bone fractures, lowered IQ, thyroid dysfunction, cancer, allergies among other things.

In fact, fluoride isn't one substance, that's just a cover-up umbrella term; it contains some toxic chemicals like
lead, arsenic, aluminum, cadmium and fluorosilicic acid.

That's not me, Google it and see what science thinks, especially if you live in the U.S and drink from the tap. This Article is a start if you want to remove or reduce your and your loved ones intake of this poison. There is also the below short doc which explains it plainly. 

The hazardous thing with fluoride is that
it's not just about drinking water, but it is also absorbed through the skin when bathing, showering, or swimming in fluoridated water; it is absorbed through the tissues of your mouth when brushing your teeth; it is used
in insecticide so it is on our fresh produce.

Above all this, fluoride also calcifies the pineal gland by accumulating there. That's a different story we might discuss some other time.
Ever notice how fluoridated toothpastes have warning labels on them and fluoride-free toothpastes do not? Sodium fluoride is even more toxic than certain forms of rat poison.


The thought-provoking is that during the ultra-secret Manhattan Project, a report was commissioned to assess the effect of fluoride on humans. That report was classified 'secret' for reasons of "(alleged) national security". I mean, really, if they carried on experiments with LSD and other psychotropic drugs on unwary citizens and committed some mind-control freakywicked stuff for years with MK-Ultra, why would that be so strange to accept? Besides, it's banned in Europe and most of Canada, why is it still used in the U.S?

Another time we started talking about the ambiguous word 'work'. The older generation don't really relate to what working independently means. They were all workers of some sort, and I was too, for 10 years. Then I realized that it's not for me, though I had always sensed I had a different calling.

So "work," I know it doesn't have to be "for" someone and you can be independent like the case of artists and
investors and adventurers and explorers...and mystics. It's more of a journey here, Doc, a vocation. And money or applause aren't the destination.

Work does not have to be from 9 to 5 or in shifts. It also sure does not, or should not, have to be something you don't like but just do to keep up with the system. Apart from being slavery, that is suicide.

He happened to tell me something like that when discussing the case I plan to get married, and I have heard it many times before and wholeheartedly don't agree with.
You have to do it because that's how it's done.” Because that's all we know is what they really want to say.

I have actually done that for years
and I was working for the best multinational corporations, so when I say no it comes from knowing. Thanx but no thanx. Besides, I see people having great jobs doing things they don't care about, and guess what? None of them is truly or essentially happy. It brings money, yes, social status, it could. But to excel and shine one has to follow the path of his heart. If we're doing it because we feel that we must, just like a homework, then we can't really go far.

If you think about it you'll find that whatever we call work nowadays usually has negative connotation. It entails doing something you don't want to do, something unnatural
― think homework. And that is a problem. Mark Twain said that work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions. And no one could have said it better. It's all in how you look at it.

I see the word 'work' itself to mean doing something. If you can be fully immersed into it, then great. Work also means to create. The value of what you create may only be significant to you, but it really doesn't matter. In art for example, there is a certain thrill in reliving our own conceptions; for leaving something that wasn't there before; for being co-creators of the Universe.

When you consistently keep doing that something, out of repetitions, you become good at it. So you keep doing it more and get even better. And if you're doing it with love and passion, then that's a big plus and you'll likely go places in Life. That's how I see it.

I also think that if you're good enough money and abundance will come to you; no need to sell yourself or exchange your reality for a role and for some papers. These views are specifically why some think of me as too much of a dreamer or even have a Utopian way of looking at things. Maybe I do maybe I don't, as long as I'm happy.

The thing is, I'm sure he knows what I'm talking about as he is a practicing doctor living in 2014 Los Angeles. It's just that it's a different paradigm in which he floats, and days-long discussions like these can show a lot. He's also a doctor with a highly developed left brain who thinks philosophy is nonsense and art is just art. 

Same thing more or less for the subject of Marijuana. I only remember telling him and my aunt once how it is legal now and that green pharmacies (dispensaries) are all over California. Their only humorous response was to stay away from them. I chose not to go further here as well because by now I think I know what kind of information could reach him and what couldn't. Logically, marijuana seems to be one of those subjects that will not go through.

Even with being an open minded ex-surgeon who's still practicing medicine for exactly 60 years, Dr. Toutou couldn't really wrap his mind around some new paradigms. Not out of narrow-mindedness or anything like that, but it's because there is a certain mental gap. I didn't, however, feel like pushing too much as we spoke about such topics. But for him to actually believe me, he has to come to terms that what he's been doing for many years of his life is unhealthy, either eating the junk food or drinking fluoridated tap water and unwarily ingesting it through other means.

I think the worst in my opinion is knowing that the authorities are deliberately intoxicating the people and allowing corporations to rule the scene. That is really one paradigm-shattering realization, for no one likes to get fooled, let alone a well-read doctor at his age.

It will also beg some deeper question, like why. Is it for depopulation purposes or is it for crippling the masses mentally and physically and spiritually by keeping them passive and apathetic and under control? Scary thought to see how the value of the life of man could be such a dearth commodity nowadays. 

Of course when I told him why I choose to not eat and drink such items, he semi-sarcastically asked me if I believe these things. I said I do but, again, didn't venture further as my intention was not to change his mind. At some point he even said the fluoride is good for you. I found later that he must have meant the good fluoride, the natural existing calcium fluoride.

In a way I feel like sitting him down and showing him the scientific evidence. Because of how the media is today, someone like him would never know about any of these things if it's not in the mainstream scene. He loves to read but he also loves to watch T.V, and that's what he has been doing for decades now, everyday. Mainly all is through Egyptian cable, and that means the mind-numbing soap operas and all the news I had happily divorced five years ago. That's another factor when considering the difference in paradigms. But then everyone at his age watches T.V. Heck, most people I know watch T.V, and I know a lot of people.

Oh, well.

In another way, why would I want to do that? All this has reminded me that we people tend to prefer the familiarity rather then getting lost in the novelty. Toutou actually seems progressive compared to others as he knows how to use the laptop; he's also relatively healthy for his age. However, my aunt for example, who is 10 years younger, does not come near the computer because she's afraid from it; it makes her comfortable as she once confessed. 

Likewise, their daughter and her husband were not really convinced when I tried to explain that changing to Firefox or Chrome from Explorer would be way better. They seemed reluctant to take the risk. And that's an even younger generation.

Another example was my former teacher and editor who's in her 50s and doesn't own a mobile phone —
 probably for more or less the same reason.

I remember that I, too, was fighting the iPod when it came out in the late 90s because I loved my CD collection and their artworks and their lyrics. Eventually I got one in 2002 as I gift from my aunt and loved it; it's the same one I still have today. Then I fought Facebook and made fun of my sister and her friends for using it. Then it was the Blackberry, but got one as a gift from my mother as she was getting the newer. And for the last four years, I've also been fighting the iPhone and still going strong...until now.

All that clinging to the past is because I was satisfied with my current situation, even though the novelty and the technology naturally can make our life easier. So I can relate, and perhaps also I'm a little afraid that I won't be able to keep up and become out of touch from reality when older. Not that I'm SO in touch with it now... but you know what I mean.  

See, people are generally afraid from what they don't know. They don't like not knowing because they are conditioned to fear the unknown, some may fight it. But the reality is, we are not born like that, we are taught to fear; it's acquired. 

Fearing the unknown could be problematic.

One, because naturally there will always be things you don't know. And since change is the only constant in life, it will make you uncomfortable and you'll probably live in a small and contained loop, surrounded by the comfort zone all the things you do know represent, which is the case for many people. 

Two, it distances you from the world. This one doesn't sound that bad, but I mean distance you from the real existence — from the Truth. You're stuck in that loop and it's full of other people's ways of thinking and words...and, you know, whole culture. And if all your mental intake has been coming through T.V and newspapers year after year, and you believe what you see, hear, and read, then I dare saying that you must be brainwashed to some degree. We were all there at some point. 

Three is highly important. And it's you never get to do or learn new things. That is a killer, because, in general, with no change, life becomes boring and repetitive. You don't grow through it, you're merely existing and getting older. For the day we stop learning new things is the day we start ageing.

At the end, I believe it's probably wise to let the elders live in their own world without disturbing them. Nothing good can come out from shattering the paradigm he knows. As for myself, I choose to keep pushing the envelope of this generation; I choose to shift paradigms, because it's good for me and it keeps me happy and healthy. And I do that by learning from men like Dr. Toutou, from their victories, their regrets, and their stories.

“Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre

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