si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

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The Subtle Power Of A Room Shuffle

I recently shuffled my entire office around. Why? Because it was time for serious change.

Remember that scene from Dead Poet’s Society, where the teacher, played by Robin Williams, gets the kids to stand on their desks so they can see the world in a different way?


Yeah, it’s like that now. Only more so.

Now, it doesn’t have to be as drastic an exercise as it was for me (it was a solid two day job, shifting everything in my office somewhere new). Often just reversing a couple of pieces of key furniture, or turning a single chair to face a different direction can give you a whole new perspective on life.

I had a friend who used to completely rearrange his bedroom every six months. At the time I didn’t really understand it, but now I see what a clear message it sends to our brains.

Every time you’re in that environment, all the old familiar signals you’re used to are now gone. Your brain has to reassess. It makes it easier to lose old habits, along with the old environment. It’s easy to feel like you’re starting a new life, because everything feels so different. Not only that, but we get constant drum beat every second we’re in that room:

  • Don’t take things for granted!
  • You do have influence in your environment!
  • You can make things exactly how you want them!
  • If you’re unhappy, change it!
  • Better things are afoot!

Even more essentially, it keeps things fresh, it makes you feel at a very deep level like you’re making a new start – and sometimes that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.


    Food Processor – Inner City Styles

    I’m seeing more & more recipes that need a food processor – but my kitchen is only big enough for midgets (or two regular people if one of them stands on the bench)

    I already have a juicer & blender (that both see a lot of use). Between them they already take up half my bench space. I have room for a chopping block, and that’s it. So what’s a guy to do?

    Well there’s always a solution if you look hard enough, so how about this:

    It’s a coffee grinder (not that I drink coffee, but hey). There’s a drinking coconut next to it for scale. It’s TINY. Amusingly, once I got it home, the instructions explicitly said “Do NOT use this for nuts”.. but hey, yah gotta try, right?

    I figured cashews would be ok – they’re softer than coffee beans. Sure enough, here’s the result on a coarse grind:

    That looks pretty damn good to me! Better yet was the result:

    Melon, passionfruit, and cashew nut cream (cashew nuts + some chopped dates + water -> blender).


    Now true, it’s really only going to work for small recipes – but I’m generally only uncooking for one, so it’s pretty much the perfect compromise – at a fifth of the cost, and a tiny fraction of the space.

    [Update: ha ha! So much for that clever idea. I blew the damn thing up the 4th time I used it *laugh* Got a bunch of nuts stuck underneath the blade, and all the magic blue smoke escaped. Doh!]


      Cleaning House – Removing obvious food toxins

      I’ve just come off a thirty something day juice feast, followed by a four day water fast (more on that lot later), and after all that cleansing, I started thinking about what I was now going to be putting into my body again.

      Why waste all that time by just putting more toxins in?

      So I started looking at the first non-obvious thing I picked up – a can of coconut cream that I used to simply adore putting in my morning smoothies. What I found was these:

      What the hell are they? No idea! So tracked them down to these:

      To use the most egregious example for greater effect:

      Polysorbates are oily liquids derived from polyethylene glycol-ylated sorbitan (a derivative of sorbitol) esterified with fatty acids

      uhh. wtf?

      Now, ok, to be fair, I’m sure that I’ve been eating this stuff my entire life with no obvious ill effect. However, that doesn’t mean I should or have to continue doing so.

      I should state – my overall intention is to have a happy & joyous relationship to food. I’m not going to sweat the tiny details if I’m out eating at a restaurant with friends, for example. However, if I habitually buy & eat something that’s bad for me, for no reason other than habit, why not improve it? It’s as much effort to make that small change as to continue.

      So, here’s what I did.

      I went through the entire house, and threw out everything that had:

      • refined sugar
      • processed starches
      • preservatives
      • additives
      • dairy
      • meat
      • caffeine

      Namely, all this:

      Which given the tiny kitchen in my apartment here was quite a large percentage of available cupboard space!

      After all, if I’m not planning on eating it, why keep it around?