Bingeing I

Like probably everybody, I like to binge. Thankfully, my days of binge drinking are long over. But what counts as a binge? Is it nothing more than excessive indulgence? If so, “excessive” implies a negative, such as with the drinking. However, people also binge on television series. Granted, obsessively watching Downton Abbey episodes to the point that you can’t properly perform activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning, and work, is a definite negative. But people love to binge-brag, and media companies love to invite you program-binge (I myself am somewhat tempted by the upcoming “Miss Marple” – off). They literally use the word. Alcohol vendors don’t run public ads inviting you to Bacardi-binge. We will just have to accept that “binge” has an additional, positive, connotation. There must be a philological concept of word meanings going from negative to positive via some cultural usage shift. “What were once vices are now habits”. Here’s a brief riff on some of my favorite binges. I expect to indulge in more binge-related posts, thus the titular Roman numeral.

Maps. I cannot remember a time that I didn’t love looking at maps. In fact, when the Pluto data started coming back, I wrote a one-line iambic nonameter poem: “Like Bilbo Baggins, I love maps; therefore I love this recent map of Pluto”. IIRC I used it in a seminar I gave at the time, not coincidentally about geospatial programming in R. One of my grandfathers was a hobbyist – not only did he polish semi-precious gemstones and cut large agates into thin sheets, he cast plastic sundries, including (back in the day when cigarette smoking was everywhere) an ashtray that was the outline of Oregon, which for some reason fascinated 5-year-old me. I get lost zooming around web maps, switching between satellite, map, and street views. Possibly half of my love for Dungeons and Dragons in high school was the drawing of campaign and dungeon maps, often at the expense of taking class notes.

Food programs. I have watched most the food programming I can find on our streaming services, that has an educational component. Not necessarily “how to do something” programs, although definitely those, but also ones where they spend a lot of time on chef techniques, chef descriptions of their approach, and/or exquisite filming of cooking some dish. I can sometimes get something out of the competition shows, although they’re kind of a secondary source. Shows that follow people who are famous for being well known (I usually don’t recognize them) watching them eat? Mrs. Dean got me to watch one episode of “Someone Feed Phil”. Not for me.

Drink. As mentioned, I don’t binge drink anymore, although I have very fond memories from when I did do that (this suggests that I wasn’t very “good” at it, as the conventional wisdom is that I shouldn’t remember!). My obsession is not with excessive drink consumption, rather with excessive drink quality. Craft beers and gourmet sodas are what I’m talking about here. Not wine. I also quite enjoy single-malt whisky, although only in small amounts, not even getting tipsy. Interestingly, I will fall in love with a beer, preferentially drink mostly that for a few years, and then switch to another. Not because I don’t like the first one any more, as I seldom quite totally abandon old favorites, but probably because a combination of menu fatigue and something new (to me) comes along. Gourmet sodas, to me, start with a cane sugar requirement. In my youth I mostly drank root beer, Hires bubbling up as a favorite in my lapsed memory. Today I favor Maine Root sarsaparilla, root beer, and birch beer. Virgil’s root beer is quite good, and Boylan’s black cherry may be the best soda I have ever tried, strangely for me as it is not actually a root beer.