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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Why I don't drink, and other observations

This is why I don't drink: I lack some sort of dehydrogenase protein and drinking even small amounts of alcohol causes my face to flush red and my head to feel like it's going to explode. I derive absolutely no pleasure at all from drinking because of this genetic abberration, and so I generally don't touch the stuff.

While the disadvantages of this affliction are many, there are several advantages that make this condition better than it would otherwise be. First, I am always sober. Now, many people will tell you that being the only sober person at a party full of drunks is boring. Not so! In fact, it is the most entertaining thing in the world. You would be surprised to hear what your drunk colleagues will tell you when they are oblivious to the dangers of their loose lips...muahahahaha. In all seriousness though, drink responsibly because there will always be sober Asians with AFS (Asian Flush Syndrome) who will remeber your follies for posterity.

The second advantage of having AFS is being able to take the moral highground re: the evils of alcohol. However, I must admit that this advantage is essentially nullified be the social stigma attached to holding a Perrier in a room of Stellas, Keats, and Sleemans. It's difficult to mingle when everyone in the room thinks you're a recovering alcoholic and covers their bottles in your presence so as to reduce the temptation (you poor, brave man...which step are you on now?...another Perrier for you?). Next time I work the crowd with my Perrier, I'll lick my lips everytime I see someone with their beer and say something like, "...must be good to drink a nice cool beer like that on a hot day like this...mmmmmmmm...can I lick your bottle when you're done?"

I wish there are more advantages, but I honestly can't think of another one. AFS is a serious affliction that makes life for 50% of Asians in North America more difficult than it has to be. Thankfully, there is ongoing (albeit non-government-approved) research into finding a cure for AFS. I spoke with a Korean pharmacy student over the summer and he told me that in Korean circles, there is currently ongoing (again, this is not approved by the government and even the Mexican FDA is skeptical) trials of using antacids like Pecid-AC to combat the effects of AFS. Initial results seem to indicate that taking two tablets before drinking significantly (statistical correlations are unavailable since there were only 2 Korean subjects in these trials) reduced facial flushing. I am going to adopt a wait-and-see approach to this recent discovery because I don't think it's wise to pop pills before drinking alcohol.

Your Favorite Jerk

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Leaving Toronto for three weeks

It's been a while since my last post. I have lots of excuses, but in the interest of space I'll just give you the most pertinent one: I didn't feel like it. Now that we've got that out of the way, on with the story.

It's 10:50AM and the Airport Express bus finally comes (10 minutes late) to take me to the airport for my 2:00PM flight home. The driver is friendly and talkative, but his friendliness makes me extremely uncomfortable because he demands a level of interaction that I don't wish to provide. Besides very basic information, like my name, rank, and number (the Geneva convention -- before it became quiant -- promised me this right, I think), I really shouldn't have to provide anymore input to get to my destination. No, I don't know where people learned to drive; and no, I don't know who they think they are. This is irrelevant to me. Just drive me to the airport and leave the road-rage at home...please.

1:50PM and I board the Air Canada plane. As always, I'm offered a quick tour of the business class cabin on my way to my hospitality class seat/holding-cell for the 5 hour flight. Celion Dion tells me that "you and I were meant to fly", but if you have a business class ticket, "you and I were meant to fly" with different amounts of dignity.

I reach my window seat and I am shocked to discover that this so-called "window" seat affords me none of the perks of sitting by the window because the left wing of the aircraft almost completely obliterates the view. Thankfully, my seat-mate, who is an air-navigation engineer, tells me that we're sitting in the strongest part of the plane. This is comforting, but I tell him that I had always assumed the seats near the end of the plane were safest since the tail is often the only intact thing you see in a crash-site video. He finds none of this morbid, and helpfully informs me that while the tail often survives, the passengers sitting just below it do not. You learn more in one day of travelling than in a year of reading (Marco Polo or Confucious said that, I think...or maybe it was the skinny white guy from the Lonely Planet shows...I don't really know).

For the next five hours, I get the play-by-play from Mike, the navigations expert. "We're gonna bank 20 degrees to the left now, so they can localize our transponder" he says (maybe, not verbatim because I honestly don't understand large chunks of our conversations), and 2 minutes later we do exactly that. Mike, it turns out, used to work for the military. Our forces are in a pathetic state, he tells me; and the Swedes are setting up research stations all across the great Canadian north. If we don't strengthen our military soon, we'll lose our dominion in the north and give up access to huge tracts of land. I nod in agreement, but I am not surprised. What can you expect from these Swedes, descendants of the ruthless Viking pillagers of yore? The whole Scandanavian chic shtick with the Saabs, Ikeas, and H&Ms is just a front. One day, when we least expect it, they'll take out those little hexagonal micro-wrenches, assemble large two-sided axes from varnished plywood, and destroy our civilization. We'll all be forced to dress fashionably (yet, affordably) and toil in factories making boring cars and painting flimsy furniture in bright primary colours.

It's 4:00 PM Vancouver time and after descending through about 2000 ft of clouds, I land with a gentle bump on runway 6 (or something like that...I had started tuning Mike out after the second hour, so this is probably not accurate) at YVR. Seeing my parents for the first time in 4 months is an indescribable experience. This is a moment I will treasure for a long time.

Stay tuned for more from Vancouver.

Your Favorite Jerk