The Search of Glory

Warning: This article is full of metaphors. Everyone wants to be someone. Chances are, at a very young age, we were all asked about what we wanted to be when we grow up. It is a quest many of us have undertaken as we journeyed through our days in school and university to find a future occupation that we will stick to for the rest of our lives, before subsequently retiring with a happy marriage as our children undergo the same process. This is the normal and perfect path of life, which most people aspire to live for. However, there are those of us who decide to take the road less travelled within the yellow wood. What prompts someone away from the well-worn path used by the majority of people can be attributed to a myriad of reasons, but one thing that will be true is that the choice to do so will not be taken lightly.
There will be some who criticize, or even mock, the ones who decide to take the untrodden path.
  The road less travelled refers to the idea of the one who strays from the ideal life path, such as dropping out of secondary or tertiary educations in pursuit of other paths. There are a variety of people who do this and they contribute to a vast set of outcomes. But unless they achieve something greater than the rest of us, the choice of leaving formalised education is seen to be ‘rebellious’ as it conjures images of black leather jackets, torn jeans, degeneracy: the usual punk stereotypes; or for others, the hippie, pot-smoking, nomadic stereotypes. Yet, how do people get the interest to act against the customary flow of education?
Glory is everyone’s destination, but not everyone makes it.
One way to sum it up is with the word: "glory". Backtrack to the time we were asked what we wanted to do in the future, we were also told that everyone is special, and that all futures are special. We were also taught that success is found in the first place, where we felt the most special as compared to, say, second place, third place, or even last place. Everyone is special, but some are more special than others. It becomes a competition between us — on who is more special — that carries over to adulthood.
Glory makes people feel special and it comes in the form of social status and wealth.
And as any rapper can tell you, nothing feels more special than spending tons of money on your heart’s desire. Rappers and hip-hop artists are exemplars of success through rebellious means if only to achieve a glory demonstrated to them through their idols. The reality may not be as bright as the music paints it, but it is still a lifestyle that has a certain degree of attractive flair. Electronics do the same to fascinate the youth, with all the colors and quick bursts of euphoria with each small success of social media or video gaming through screens of many sizes. And all it takes is a few years of coding and art design that doesn’t require a university degree. Who wouldn’t want to spread profitable joy and electronic art by making games and apps? But the hunger for glory runs deeper.   Hip-hop and electronics share the same thread of being flashy enough for the youth to follow. Because the youth know everything, they will tread through blistering winds and scorching deserts to achieve the same glory of being that flashy as the idols that gave them that bling. The older generation may look down on their decisions to turn away the opportunities provided, but the young would know better and scoff. It’s not that they are denying the fruits of their forefathers, but rather that they are creating new realms for the next generation.
Through their own opportunities they would create, not only material and social wealth for themselves, but also carve out their faces in the mountain of time, forever facing forward for the next youth to look back on.
Some would be lost on their path, even if they did take the safe route only because they took a wrong turn, whether by naivety or by distraction. If they do make it out, they won’t necessarily reach glory, but stop by at a lovely village where they can rest indefinitely. It’s not glory, but it’s comfortable for those from all walks of life. Comfort is special, but not special enough for the pilgrims of glory. They march on from the village, either making a path for others or never to be seen again. Everyone appreciates an open and easy road to travel on, and they will thank the one who dared go ahead for glory. Because in the end everyone wants to be special, but there are others that want to be more so than others.

Injecting Culinary Preservatives

Has anyone never tried instant noodles? Something like Indomie or Top Ramen. The kind of pre-prepared, processed food from factories that come with the solid block of carbs that become less stiff and flow more like proper noodles once they settle in the hot water for a few minutes. The flavor of hot water and bland dough are swathed in layers of condiments like chili powder, garlic powder, msg, and some oils. Those packets that come at the cost of spare change, and theoretically a few organs when eaten too frequently, have become an everyday meal for people who can’t afford to eat better because there are more important things to pay for, like rent. Aside from the health hazards, think about how advanced the technology is. To be able to create a massive amount of food on a large scale and have it be virtually non-perishable is an outstanding feat. The chemicals used to process the food and allow it to be immortal is not safe human ingestion, but it is certainly a large leap from a long time ago. Even if the food is going to decompose for certain, there exists refrigerators that delays that inevitable outcome. The seemingly simplistic method of refrigeration certainly goes beyond placing things in tin cans and hoping the copious amounts of salt can kill the germs before the raw food goes rotten. Or pre-cooking the food so that the bacteria are dead, but the food becomes cold, stale, and still at risk from fungal growth in a matter of days. In the modern era, not only are the food storage techniques more reliable, but the art of food preparation is also more advanced. With electronic tools such as blenders, toasters, ovens, and stoves, anyone can make any meal worthy of an Instagram story. Not everyone has the skill to make it impressive, but that doesn’t matter with the current technology. Anyone can cook a recipe they pull off from the internet on beginner-friendly kitchen appliances using ingredients from around the world. Capture and post the outcome on the digital media, and it will probably get the fleeting attention of some random strangers from somewhere in the world. With a few simple recipes and online video tutorials, people can claim to be master chefs, live a healthier lifestyle, and save money on food by buying only ingredients instead of everyday takeout. Perhaps not the “master chef” part, but the message is there. The scale at which human survival operates is global. It is not just the fact that raw ingredients can be imported across countries more efficiently, but also the options humans have when it comes to cooking. We get to not only purchase and cook non-native produce, but also decide the style of the meals, such as Italian, Greek, or Chinese. With the ubiquitous availability of information regarding recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques on the internet, an amateur home cook can compete with professional chefs in their own game. An average person with a mere internet connection can influence and be influenced from anywhere at anytime by anyone. Compared to the days before the internet, recipes had to be handed down from generation to generation, parent to child, chef to apprentice. The art of picking ingredients had to be taught by a professional or paid institution, or learned through trials and errors. The path to becoming a proper cook has become shorter and easier, and that is only with traditional cuisines from known places such as Asia and Europe. Imagine what these people could do if they learned a bit of science! With the progression of science and technology, professional chefs tend to have the same know-how and hygiene as medical doctors. Alongside the standard procedures of washing hands and keeping clean uniforms, the equipment both professions use for their jobs must be sterilized and cleaned to the highest degree, from syringes to knives. Higher level chefs have to enact a certain precision akin to surgeons, and an eye for food like painters to their art. A lot of chefs with Michelin stars talk about cooking as an art of passion, innovating dishes for the perfect set of flavors, and reinventing meals to suit a particular challenge, like a wholesome meal that tastes meaty for vegans. But sometimes, science wants to take a crack at food, like with Indomie packets, to create interesting and innovative treats within a field of culinary chemistry. This is a field known as “molecular gastronomy”. With foods like pop rocks, cocktail ice spheres, flavored gel and paper, ice cream frozen on the spot, and noodles that taste like herbs, the possibilities of new dishes and their various interpretations are endless. Professionals like Heston Blumenthal take that creativity to overdrive. This proprietor of the three-Michelin-starred restaurant The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire uses scientific processes and tools to elevate the sensation of his dishes. He frequently attempts to reinterpret classic dishes and throw the concept of normal out the window. (Check out his bacon and egg ice cream). One prominent example is when he attempts on mimicking the sensation of being inside Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. Blumenthal was able to use liquify nitrogen by cooling it down to subzero temperatures and make a waterfall of chocolate by adding some chocolate powder. Not a liquid chocolate waterfall, but a misty flow of chocolate liquid that dissolves in cool smoke, leaving fine chocolate dust in its wake. Videos of him taking advantage of the intersection between science and culinary arts are viral all over YouTube. They are certainly worth a watch. Blumenthal’s work is an extreme example of molecular gastronomy, but it demonstrates the potential of scientific play within the art of cooking itself. Technology has certainly made food global, safe and somewhat homogenized, but that is merely a shallow view. Science not only elevates the efficiency of food dissemination and consumption, but also pushes the boundaries on how a meal is viewed and consumed. Technology, as the byproduct of science, will inevitably help in this. Whether it is by supplying information and inspiration, or by helping to properly get a dish down, science and food will always play a part in each other’s flourish.

Project O: Happiness in Giving

Project O returns this October for its seventh year, showcasing Indonesian talent and rich culture for a charitable cause. Witness RMIT Alumni Courtyard getting transformed into a night of full of dances, Melburnian skits, live stand-up comedy, and Yura’s singing performance on 7 October 2017! Themed “Happiness in Giving”, this year’s Project O collaborates with Book for Papua to minimise the cycle of poverty and improve the literacy conditions in Papua. Different from past years, Project O 2017 focuses on both children and adults alike while highlighting four key goals, i.e. education, hygiene, food and health, for the betterment of Indonesia. As a prelude to the main event held on October 7, Project O hosted “Pasar Malam Untuk Amal”, or “Samuna”, on 26 August 2017. This pre-event incorporated activities such as interactive games, live performances, and food bazaar. The games during Samuna were designed to increase awareness of the “health, education and hygiene” of Papuan children. Such games include a mix of ring toss and trivia Q&A as well as blindfolding a group of players to travel on a lined path. However, these kids need wider access to technology, education and healthcare in order to develop and succeed. The live performances during Samuna were chosen via online voting prior to the event. The audience could vote for the Indonesian artist they’d like to see by donating to Project O’s online funding source. The top five winners from the voting would then be selected, and one of them would be invited to perform at Samuna and the main Project O event. In this way, Project O encourages the audience’s engagement, thus building the hype prior to the actual event. All proceeds from Samuna will go towards Project O’s main event and most importantly, Book for Papua. But it does not end there. If you want to continue being socially responsible while enjoying yourself surrounded with Indonesian talents, come to Project O 2017’s main program on 7 October 2017 at RMIT Alumni Courtyard.
Project O 2017’s main program will take place on October 7 at RMIT Alumni Courtyard. Tickets to the main event are currently available for purchase online. The individual ticket goes for $15 per ticket while the bundle ticket for five goes for $65. To find out more about Project O’s program and their cause, please visit their website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Project O is also still receiving donations on KitaBisa and GoFundMe pages, all of which will be donated to Book for Papua.