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[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Nether Regions of Affluence

While in Uganda I pretty much had ONE choice for toilet paper....ONE. Walking down the aisle of the average American grocery store, one is assaulted with toilet paper choices. ..we could not begin to count the different brands and styles: quilted, single ply, two ply, extra soft, extra absorbent, etc etc etc...all for the task of wiping our...well you get the picture. How amazing that we create a market (need?) for so many varieties of something so...mundane and, let's face it, gross.

In relating this tyranny of American choices to one Ugandan, he initially refused to believe me and thought I must surely be joking. I assured him I wasn't and that we truly do often have an entire supermarket aisle devoted to the cleaning of American heinies. Finally he surrendered and just shook his head laughing and then he asked: "How much time must you waste deciding?!"

...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 8:10 AM [+]
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5 comments


5 Comments:

While I'm no fan of American conspicuous consumption, I can honestly say that I've never felt "assaulted" by the number of toilet paper choices in the average Supermarket. May I suggest less time in the t.p. aisle? []:-)}}=+

FrC+

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:37 AM  

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But Father????? Quilted or two ply? Or two ply quilted vs. single ply + extra cushion - with Teflon no stick???? How can you ever decide????

Seriously though, while assaulted may be too strong a word, there are many striking contrasts once one returns from spending a period of time in a resource poor country - and they are often regarding things you never normally give much thought to.

Another one: breakfast cereals. Another entire aisle plus.

:)

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 3:54 PM  

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Father, I agree with James. Have you lived someplace where there's just one choice? I lived in Russia in 1986, and I remember walking into a "grocery store", quite large, with aisles and aisles and aisles of one product: jars of green tomatoes. That was the ONLY ITEM for sale in that store. All over town, stores with the sign "CHEESE", sold one, maybe two kinds of cheese, and all stores had the same two kinds. If you go into an American supermarket, there are hundreds of choices. Trader Joe's has a different selection from Albertson's. There may be 20 kinds of chedar. Once you've been to a place where there's just nothing, walking into an American supermarket really is shocking. "Assault" doesn't do it justice. Tomato sauce anyone? Here's 50 choices. Bread, olives, butter, unless you know exactly what you want, your brain has to register the full range of choices and decide which kind of BOTTLED WATER did my wife intend for me to buy? How are you going to decide: price? Volume? Six-pack? Additives? Brand? All of these evaluations are going on in your head for every item you buy. It can cause mental illness! How many times have i found myself staring, bleary eyed, at the 40 painkillers, or the 25 kinds Colas (with/without sugar, with/without caffeine, calories, which kind of sweetener, check the price, go with the diet , what about the coupon deal...), chips, bacon, and finally just taking something close, because it's just exhausting. How many kinds of Crest toothpaste can there be? What about milk? Do you want the nonfat, 1% 2%? What size container? Brand name? Check the "do not use after" date. Or would you like the "Organic MilK", or the Acidopholous???

I mean, in Russia, if you wanted potatoes, you went to the potato store, stuck your backpack out, and a grubby working woman would swing the end of an industrial conveyer belt into your backback, and whoila! 40 potatoes. No choices. No packaging. Here, you easily have 10 choices.

We even have choices of which bags (paper, plastic, re-usable), which aisle to use (4 choices now: standard, family friendly, express, or self serve).

- Steve K

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:47 PM  

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LOL...just today Father related to me a similar experience to yours Steve during a trip to Cuba.

My only retraction is with regard to Beer. Getting away from five choices in Uganda (note: far more choices than toilet paper) was truly a blessing...especially since four of the choices hardly tasted any different from one another.

By Blogger JamesoftheNorthwest, at 9:31 PM  

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I wonder how many kinds of chip/beer combinations you could walk out of the store with. Let's say there are 60 varieties of beer and 40 different styles of chips. Thats 2,400 different chip/beer combinations. Add salsa, (25 flavors), sweet Mother of God, you have 60,000 different combos, which may exceed the number of cable channels. 60,000 ways to enjoy the Super Bowl. There are not enough football games in a lifetime to ever exhaust the choices.

I remember the night my wife asked if I would go to the store and pick up some baby food. How hard can that be??? So I naively walked down that aisle, and found -- whoa! -- three or four different brands, but each brand had a multi-layer approach: within each size category, you had the healthy choices or traditional lines, and within each of those you had 40 flavor choices. And it wasn't just "carrots", "peas" "beans." There would be combos: "apple/banana", orange/banana, but no apple/orange. Here, the lack of symmetry made me feel like I was being denied a logical choice. How maddening! After staring at this daunting great array of choices, I finally said screw it, and no kidding, I just bought two of everything (why two?), thinking on what possible basis would I choose 10 of the pear flavor and only, say, 4 of the creamy corns? Transfer the agony of choice to someone else: make THEM decide which vegetable/fruit combo to serve up to baby, and just bring the whole store home.

- Steve Knowlton

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:12 PM  

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