Category Archives: Life hacks

How I doubled my enjoyment of delicious meals

I was once a very silly foodie.

I would venture to restaurants in eager anticipation of delicious food, only to absent-mindedly shove it down my mouth when it arrived. After seeing an empty plate in front of me and wondering disappointedly where all the food had gone, I would pay, leave, and promptly forget everything about the meal.

I eventually realized there were better ways for me to enjoy my food.

I’ve since come up with a set of tips and techniques to savor the delicous meals that come my way, and to recall the contents of every meal I’ve had worth remembering. While they may not be worth keeping in mind when you’re only eating for sustenance or as a backdrop for socializing, they’ll help make your gastronomic indulgences worth every penny.

Tips for savoring

A few things I’d recommend doing before highly anticipated meals:

  • Fast. You’ll enjoy the meal more and get to eat more on an empty stomach.
  • Leave an open schedule. If you’re constantly feeling rushed during a meal, you’ll enjoy it significantly less.

By default, we’re only conscious of our meals at their beginnings and ends. If our goal is to enjoy our meals as much as possible, it’s obviously better to be conscious of them the entire time. Some tips for doing so:

  • Put your electronics away. A ding from your phone will distract you when you’re savoring a bite. An open web browser will tempt your attention away from your food.
  • Close your eyes. You’re focusing on your food, not your surroundings.
  • Stop talking. Whenever I splurge on food, I impose a moratorium on conversation for some time after the dishes come out. I’m there for the food, not the conversation, which I can get over more pedestrian meals.
  • Pick things to focus on. Focusing on food is easier when there are specific things to look out for. A few things I try to notice:
    • The taste. How would I describe the taste? How does its actual taste compare with what I would imagine?
    • The texture. How would I describe the texture?
    • The ingredients. If I have a list of ingredients handy, I pick out each ingredient and see if I can taste it in each of my bites.

Some things I do over the course of a meal:

  • Take small bites. Moderate-sized bites have the same amount of taste as big bites, and leave me more time to enjoy a meal.
  • Ogle my food. Every now and then, I marvel at the little details of my next forkful of food and think about how great it would be in my mouth. The anticipation makes my next mouthful all the more glorious. (This is kind of like when I ogle a picture of food online, except I actually get to eat it.)
  • Take breaks when filling up. If I’m getting full, I don’t think it makes sense to stuff a dish down my throat just for the sake of finishing it. Instead, I’d either leave or ask my waiter to wait a while before serving the next course.

Finally, some tips for keeping a well-savored meal in your memory:

  • Quiz yourself on the taste. In between bites, look at your food and try to recall its taste. With the conjured taste in mind, bite into your food and compare it with the actual taste. (This is analogous to studying a vocabulary flashcard, except you’re pairing sights and tastes instead of words and definitions.)
  • Cycle through the different items on your dish while quizzing yourself. If you’re learning vocabulary flashcards, would you just pick flashcards to study at random? Or would you study each card for a bit, then cycle through them?
  • Take pictures of your food. An extremely simple way to ensure that none of your dishes fall into the abyss of forgotten memories. It’s also nice to be able to look through old food pictures like a hungry little kid flipping through a food magazine, with the difference that you know exactly what it was like to eat each of the foods.

I find that if I quiz myself on the taste of a dish, a picture of that dish will bring its taste to my mind. Thus, by combining the above three tips, I can remember the tastes of any food I choose.

Got your own tips for enjoying food? Share them in the comments!

How to not be glued to your computer until 3 am, and actually get sleep

The Problem

It’s midnight. “Time for bed!” you tell yourself.

You would totally head off for bed, except you happen to be splat in the middle of an internet article. (Or cat video. Or League of Legends match. Or whatever). So you tell yourself you’ll sleep once you finish that article.

You finish it, and it’s still not that late. Great! Except you clicked a link while you were reading, and now you’ve got a new tab with an enticing new article in front of you, which you could wait until tomorrow to read… or that you could just read right now. (It’s not that late yet, after all!)

“Okay”, you think. “I’ll finish this article, and then I’ll go to sleep”. And you finish, but along the way you’ve opened two new articles, both of them imploring you to read them before you go snuggle in your sheets.

On and on this goes, until you check the time and holy crap it’s 3 am already??

There’s a fundamental problem here—leaving your computer and going to bed requires willpower, while continuing to read is just a matter of switching tabs and getting immediate gratification that your brain so adores. Every time you have to decide what to do, you’ll pick the path of least resistance, which will virtually always be to stay up reading.

A Solution

If we could make our path of least resistance be to get up and sleep, instead of continuing to stay up reading, our problem would be solved.

There’s actually a very simple way to make this happen: configure your computer to automatically hibernate at a fixed time each night.1 This way, the default path is for your computer to shut off, and for you to go to bed. Staying up to continue reading will require the conscious effort and inconvenience of turning your computer back on and waiting for it to reboot.

The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t force you to do anything you really don’t want, yet always gets you making the correct decision. If you were only reading random internet articles, you probably wouldn’t have the motivation to turn your computer back on just to continue reading those articles. But if you were working on something important that does require you to stay up later, you only have to wait a minute or two before you can resume your task.

Implementation

For Windows, just follow the steps at this link, but ignore step 1, and under Program/script on the “Start a program” tab, enter “c:windowssystem32shutdown” (with no quotes), and under Add arguments (optional) add “/h” (also with no quotes).

I have nothing for Macs. If you have instructions for Macs, please leave a note in the comments.

For Linux, you do something with cron and pm-hibernate and something about admin rights for auto-scheduling a task that requires root privilege, whose details I’ve totally forgotten. If you can jog my memory here, I’d also appreciate if you could leave a comment.


1. For those unaware, hibernation is like making your computer go to sleep (like when you close your laptop), except your computer shuts off. When you reboot, everything that was previously in working memory—all your open programs, unsaved work, etc.—gets loaded back.)