Sunday, January 23, 2011

I Will Never Eat These Things Again

Today I took my daughter to Target to go grocery shopping while my wife is in London and then Dublin for a week. We went because while we can manage on our own, we decided to get some pre-packaged, easy-to-fix foods (frozen pizza, frozen other things) to get us through the week. You are probably thinking, wow, what a bad Dad, and actually it gets worse. My 7yo daughter decided she wanted to try a microwave meal involving a hot dog (and frozen bun) which had to be prepared in 3 microwaving stages, and yes, I let her try it (she thought it was alright, but didn't eat all of it). If I posted this kind of thing in a parenting web forum, I'd bring down a rain of criticism and misery, which is only one reason why I avoid those places.

We also purchased, and will eat: oatmeal. So back down.

While I was there I saw a package of ramen noodles on sale. It worked out to about 12 cents a pack, and this got me thinking about foods I used to eat which I will never eat again, unless something goes horribly wrong in my life.


I ate these and other Chef Boy-R-Dee canned pasta food products as a kid, and as somebody who just fed his daughter that freeze dried hot-dog bun thing, I'm not in any position to point fingers. I liked those canned meat-product-balls well enough. The Spaghetti-Os thing got out of control in grad school, and I have nobody but myself to blame. On a more-or-less daily basis, I'd take a can of spaghetti-os and a couple pieces of bread (occasionally a peanut butter and jelly sandwich) to the office, and eat that while I graded papers or sweated over problem sets. It was kind of unfortunate that in my early 20s, when my mind and body should have been at their peak fitness and power, I chose to undermine myself in that way. I believe this stopped immediately after I got my M.S. degree. Graduating meant an end to a lot of ruts, including eating these.

Hot Pockets

Jim Gaffigan does a famous bit about Hot Pockets, so it's really impossible to squeeze any more humor value out of them at this point. This post is not about making jokes, though, it's a confession of past sins, so I shall move forward. This habit started when I worked at AT&T and fell in with a group of obsessive runners there. This coincided with a peak in my own obsession with running. Now, years later, I can say it: I didn't really give a shit about what I was doing there outside of the really intense lunch-time runs that I still fondly remember, even the ones in sub-zero temperatures or the speed workouts that took every last bit of energy out of me.

Hot Pockets fit in because I didn't have time to have a proper lunch, and I did have to get work done so I could hang on to the job and keep running. Again, at a time where I was pursuing peak fitness and health, I was undermining myself by eating this garbage. Inevitably I got sick of the taste of them, and when I changed jobs, again, it was a good time to ditch an unhealthy rut I'd gotten myself into. I can't really say enough good things about the mental and physical health benefits of switching jobs (unless you switch to a very shitty job, that is).


This one is also lunch-time-workout related. Our workplace has a fitness center, which is a nice benefit. There's also a cafeteria, which is competent as far as being a corporate cafeteria goes, but after a workout the only thing they have that I feel like eating is salad. The salad bar is kind of unpredictable, and some days there are only 2 or 3 things I'd want to put on the salad besides lettuce. I've gotten pretty tired of salad, to the point where salad has become a combination of two Mitch Hedberg jokes to me:
Rice is great if you're really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.
You can't be like pancakes. You're all happy at first, but then by the end, you're sick of 'em.
I said at the beginning of this post that I will never eat these things again unless something goes horribly wrong, but I would like to think between myself and my wife, we'd be clever enough to find better things to eat even under serious budget constraints. As I saw today after our shopping trip, this kind of food, while convenient, is not necessarily cheap. It's probably safe to say whatever happens, life will be a journey from one kind of food I get sick of to another.

What foods are you never going to eat again? Don't answer in the comments, just say them at your screen like you are talking to your favorite TV pundit. I couldn't stand it if I asked people to comment and nobody did.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

This year, I'll try to be more superficial

There's no point in running it into the ground anymore - my goals for 2010 have been covered and revisited. Overall, I did OK, but it was not the year things really happened for me. In the interest of looking forward, even though that way lies oblivion (it lies the other direction, too, only then I didn't know any better), here's what we'll be going for in 2011, which we've already been in for a week:

  • Cut down Google Reader Usage as much as possible
  • Same with Facebook. Maybe just never use it again. I never feel good after spending time there. Usually I feel more alone and isolated than I did when I started.
  • Same with 99% of the Internet
  • Get books I’m not currently reading and stow them away somewhere, so they don’t mock me and stress me out.
  • Use fewer variations of the same thing at work (e.g., one version control system is enough).
  • Organize the bills/etc. better
  • throw away things I don’t need
  • Don’t work on 50 projects at the same time, mainly at home, I mean. I ought to finish something occasionally
  • R
  • Audio-related electronics (amplifiers, DACs, effects, circuit-bending, noise making).
Stay the course:
  • Spend lots of time with daughter and molding her impressionable young mind and such
  • Spend time with my lovely wife also
  • Continue to weigh 185 +/- 5lbs
  • Continue to not have any major health problems
  • Run
  • Ride the bike
  • Walk the dog, remember to take the time to tell her she is in fact a good dog
  • Maintain wall of detachment between self and people/places/things that won't be named at this time
Also, as per the title:

Be more superficial.

What does this mean? As a ‘back end’ guy (ha), I focus on behind-the-scenes stuff nobody notices (data, monitoring, number crunching, etc). I need to do more bullshit front-end things, dress up the web stuff a bit beyond really stark raw info stuff. I had this realization recently that I spend an awful lot of time doing stuff nobody really sees.

I don't really care about that at work (they pay me, so the sting of being ignored is not so great - in fact, they need to have a big sign printed that the HR department hangs up everywhere reading 'Being Ignored Is Its Own Reward', because that's a true story at that place), but it would be nice to get the occasional notice/recognition elsewhere.

On another superficial note, I really ought to do a better job keeping up with movies and music. It's one thing never to have anything to say when people talk about sports, but I look at peoples' 'My 50 Favorite Movies of the 4th Quarter of 2010' lists, and I feel like I'm totally out touch. Who knows how many comic references I'm missing? I may eventually find nothing funny but wordplay and slapstick. The prospect is horrifying.

Wish me luck, or don't, and have the best 2011 possible.