I remember in high school debating with my buddies about the worst day of the week. I always chose Thursday. I always think, “Man, it’s not Friday yet, so besides this eight hours of class and track practice, I still have eight more before we can party.” So to soften the blow of another eight more hours before the weekend, I’ve decided to institute my Thursday Night Column, or TNC. I’ve always wanted Rick Reilly’s job. After reading about a Devil in a White City, I figure I can at least pretend to be someone I’m not. So my pretendings will be born on this blog. Anna, if you don’t think I’m weird enough yet, wait till I ask you to edit my recent report on “owls” I composed on my free time.
I’m on outpatient medicine right now, so this column might live as long as three more weeks, or until inpatient service begins. It’s hard to drive down these roads in Tucson today and complain about traffic and bumps in the road. Suddenly the problems in Haiti make this traffic and these bumps look as big as a lysosome to the naked eye. As I’ve gone about my day today I could see in my mind the phones off the hook at the Church Office Building, the Red Cross, and Partners in Health. All these places and more are the base camp where good things will come together to help so many. I couldn’t help but juxtapose my current state with those in Haiti. Tonight I’m sitting at a kitchen table. Across the room a candle is burning, tall and straight like a 2-by-4. The wind won’t ever bend that flame. If I don’t want wind, I close the door. If I don’t want cold, I turn up the heat. If Anna tells me I smell, I take a shower. If I want an apple, I walk five steps to the fridge. I feel independent until disaster strikes, like in Haiti, reminding me I’m probably the most dependent person around.
Tonight I was struck with a thought while eating a delicious dinner of BBQ chicken with pasta, salad, and a root beer float as my nightcap. What if I was in charge of every detail of my dinner, like the thousands in Haiti or millions across the globe? I imagine it would have at least taken me a full day to gather the supplies to make my dinner. As I kept thinking about this, my curiosity grew. What did I eat tonight?
Peanuts, raisins, lettuce, carrots, green beans, broccoli, chicken, BBQ sauce, hot chocolate, root beer, ice cream, pasta, parmesan cheese, ketchup, cucumber, onion, peas, chicken and corn. How long would it have taken me to harvest all these supplies and then prepare them? Let’s see, with the help of wikipedia.
Peanuts- I would have to travel to Portales, New Mexico for the nearest peanut harvest. Total time in car: 12 hours
Raisins- assuming the plant was in season; I know I could harvest grapes in my best friend’s back yard in mesa. Total time in car: 4 hours. Time to dehydrate in sun: 7 days.
Lettuce: Being independent, I only know lettuce as near as Yuma. Roundtrip in car: 7.5 hours
Carrots: Allegedly these can grow in Tucson, so I’ll calculate a ten-minute drive to the Farmer’s market, but I can only do this for local products.
Green beans and peas: These can also grow in Tucson: 10 more minutes.
Broccoli: Also grows in Tucson: 10 minutes
Tomatoes for ketchup: 10 minutes to gather, 3 minutes to smash up and add sugar and salt for ketchup.
Cucumber: Can also grow in Tucson, so I get at Market: 10 minutes.
Onion: I think grow in Tucson, so 10 minutes to bad breath.
Corn: I can pick this in Tucson also, 10 more minutes.
Parmesan Cheese: To make this I need at least 20 days to harvest raw cow’s milk, let it curdle with Whey and rennet (I don’t know where I’d get this so I’ll add another day) and then brine in salt water. If I were eating Parmesan from Italy, I’d need 12 months to age this condiment properly. Good thing Ketchup isn’t such a chore.
BBQ sauce: I’ll roast down some corn for corn syrup and add this to my homemade ketchup. Total time: 3 hours.
Hot chocolate: Shoot, I’ll have to drive down to Mexico for Cacao. 24 hours round trip, at least. Then add sugar and water.
Ice Cream: I’ve made this homemade before, so to gather all supplies including salt and ice, I’ll say four hours.
Root beer: I can find sassafras in Eastern Texas: 2 days in car.
Chicken: Classmate’s back yard. Time to kill, pluck, and cook: 2 hours (I know it takes this long, remember our Survivor challenge Chantal, back in 2001?)
So, clearly I’m still not independent, as I would need a car. To assemble and cook this I would need an estimated 33 days. And it took me only 10 minutes to assemble it all by my dependent self in the kitchen. Imagine how much service can be rendered in Haiti in 33 days… Oh, and I forgot to calculate how long to make homemade pasta. If I had to do it all myself, I’d do it Brazilian style, rice and beans 365 times a year.