Traveling while vegan

Whenever I start doing a new thing, I try to find other’s experiences with it and make sure I don’t gloss over any obvious pitfalls. But, somehow, I completely missed all the articles about traveling as a vegan. It is very unpleasant.

The past few weeks I have been visiting conferences for work. By itself, that is exhausting; waking up early, spending all day attending talks, meeting new people and otherwise talking shop. But being vegan somehow makes it even worse.

Getting food at a foreign grocery store is as unpleasant as first starting veganism like being a new vegan again – you have to look at all the lists of ingredients because you don’t know which products are vegan. But harder, as the ingredients are written in French.

Having lunch and dinner with colleagues is worse. If you’re unlucky, 9 out of 10 restaurants don’t serve any vegan dish. This makes having lunch with a group of people you don’t know non-trivial. You have to be loud and assertive enough to make sure they don’t go to a wrong restaurant and leave you behind. Doing so does not come naturally to me. And when people do agree to find another restaurant it is reluctantly.

Oh well. Worth it.

Awkwardness doesn’t exist

Alex: Urinals are so awkward, I don’t get why they are a thing. Like, I’ve asked some men, and they all think it’s awkward. How did you feel about them back when you went to men’s restrooms?
Beth: I don’t know, I don’t get any of this.
Alex: What do you mean.
Beth: Awkwardness doesn’t exist. Something is only awkward if you make it awkward. It is up to you to not feel uncomfortable.
Alex: I don’t get it.
Beth: Let me think of something to illustrate my stance… Oh, I’ve got it!
“Don’t you think it’s super awkward if someone is wearing their socks inside out? Like, I feel like I should say something about it, but then again, I don’t want to seem like the sort of person that checks other people’s socks. Oh my god, it is just so awkward and people shou-”
Alex: I get it you can stop now.

Interview with Beth ​

I have had the opportunity to interview the delightful Beth . Without further ado, the transcript.

Beth: Thank you for being here Beth. First off, what’s with the name?

Also Beth: It’s a pleasure to be here. The name is an in-joke with myself. Back when I got my first name changed, I had the amazing idea of changing my legal name to ☃ (the Unicode Snowman U+2603), while informally using my normal actual name. The little snowman was my favourite Unicode character when I was little, way back before it became the proper emoji is it today. Back then, the internet was still much younger, and my fave website back then was ☃.net, which was based on Punycode for Internationalized Domain Names (IDN). Modern browsers don’t display the snowman anymore in the location bar, something to do with phishing.

But alas, the cleric did not accept that as a valid first name, so I went with a more conventional name instead. But the urge stayed, so when I needed a last name for my new internet pseudonym, it was only reasonable to choose , also pronounced zero-width space. But we’re friends, you can call me Beth Zero.

Why do you write under a pseudonym?

Let us look at the payoff matrix:

Pseudonym No Pseudonym
My writing is good People listen to me (+100) People listen to me (+100)
My writing is terrible Nobody will read this blog (-0) People IRL will know how bad my blog posts are (-100)

Considering the payoffs, this is an easy choice really.

Why did you start a blog?

Again, the payoff matrix is clear:

Blog No Blog
My writing is good People listen to me (+100) Nobody will read my writings (+0)
My writing is terrible Nobody will read my writings (-0) Nobody will read my writings (-0)

We can algorithmically calculate the optimal strategy in this game: create a blog.

So far for rationalisations and such fairy tales. The real reason is that I got inspired by the post Blogging is most certainly not dead on the ever amazing blog kottke.org.

I also keep it out of spite, because I refuse to let social media take everything. Those shapeless, formless platforms haven’t earned it and don’t deserve it. I’ve blogged about this many times, but I still believe it: When I log into Facebook, I see Facebook. When I visit your blog, I see you.

Blogging is a nice form of self-expression, and practising to be a better writer is always a good idea.

About the tagline: do you hope to one day make sense of the world for yourself, or to write in a way that makes sense to others?

Yes.

Thank you for your time, this interview was great.

kthxbye