The 5 Most Important Things You’ll Read All Week

1) Have you noticed? Increasingly, bloggers are inserting numbers into post titles to increase readership and improve search engine rankings. “5” has replaced “3” for most popular number. “17” is trendy too. I don’t know why numbers increase readership and improve search engine rankings. I find it disingenuous at best and insulting at worst. As if all anyone can process anymore is a list. My one-time use of it here is sarcasm. I should start a movement. . . force a number into your title and we’ll refuse to read what follows. Who is in?

2) Imagine a world in which everyone reads and discusses books with people different than them. My favorite story from last week.

3) The Seattle Mariners are the best team in baseball when it comes to this.

4) Is this a trend. . . dad’s helping grown daughters who aren’t necessarily interested in their help? I’ve never offered unsolicited advice to my daughters. . . that’s an additional serving of sarcasm. One of my daughters’ friends laughed at her dad for sending her an article on “How to save and invest money”. Another “couldn’t believe” her dad mailed her bicycle to her at college, then assembled it during a visit. The “extremely large” bike box was difficult and embarrassing to pick up at the mail room. The two wheeler was used one or two times during the school year. This isn’t limited to dad’s and daughters. Parents often presume their young adult children want to save money, invest wisely, prepare healthy meals, bicycle, etc., etc. Maybe I should start a movement where parents let their young adult children know they’re interested in sharing different “lessons learned” if and when they’re interested. And then we’ll sit back and wait for our young adult children to ask us for help.

5) I’m filing this under “Sometimes I Amaze Myself”. I’ve done it again, I’ve come up with a brilliant idea. This one will enable me to extend my triathlon career for many more years. Based upon my swimming, cycling, and running training log, I have a very good feel for how fast I can swim 1500 or 1900 meters, how fast I can ride 40k or 56 miles, and how fast I can run 10k or 13.1 miles. That means all I have to do is guess how bad my transitions would likely be, and presto, I can spend a few minutes on-line on Mondays to see what place I would’ve finished had I actually shown up at that weekend’s races. This way I save tons of coin and race every weekend without swimming through seaweed or increasing my exposure to the sun. I “won” my age group at a few recent races.

 

I’ll Never Be Mistaken for a Foodie, but. . .

. . . my culinary skills are slowly improving. At this rate, in a few years, I won’t completely suck.

This is how I’ve been starting the day—when we happen to have strawbs.

Can something this tasty really be good for you too?

I’ve been doing my own oatmeal thang for awhile, but I kicked it up a knotch thanks to this recipe/story/video. Whenever I begin working my oatmeal magic I’m hungry, meaning impatient, so I microwave it for two minutes instead of following the recommendation to cook it more slowly. Meanwhile, I gather the butter, brown sugar, strawbs, raisins, molasses. Given a blindfold test, I don’t think I could distinguish between microwaved and stove-top oatmeal. Thanks to Chef Bijou, sometimes I add a poached (or fried, improvising again) egg or two for extra protein. And once or twice I tried the recommended bananas, but I usually just go with raisins. I like my banana separate with peanut butter, usually between breakfast and lunch. Which is a nice segue to part two of this culinary tour de force—between meal grazing.

Most of the year I workout about 9-10 hours a week, meaning I’m always burning a lot of calories. As a result, I’m eating something about every two or three hours. Between meals, I throw open the kitchen pantry and start pillaging. If it’s sweets, like Costco chocolate chips, tortilla chips, or leftover cake, I can put on a few pounds pretty easily. If it’s healthy snizzle, like carrots (with a little Ranch, come on I’m not Michael Pollan), baked teriyaki almonds, hardboiled eggs, or a piece of fruit, I can snack to my hearts content and not gain weight. For the next four months I’ll be swimming, cycling, and running for more than 9-10 hours a week, so I can pretty much eat whatever I want without gaining weight.

What, upset I mentioned the most awesome snack in passing without further explanation? Recently, the Good Wife taught me how to bake and season almonds and so that’s now a part of my growing culinary repertoire. It’s really hard so pay attention. Spread almonds out on a cookie sheet or baking pan. I use a toaster oven. Bake them at 350 for 14 minutes. Fill a large bowl with a tablespoon or so of low sodium teriyaki sauce. After they’re done cooking, pour them into the bowl with the sauce. Mix them up well. Leave the bowl out for awhile and let them dry before putting them in a glass jar.

Snack goodness

Also, keep in mind, as Chris in the Morning once said on Northern Exposure, every day you have to do something bad to feel alive. That’s what these are for.

So few calories, go ahead, have a couple

And finally, some bonus pics. Here’s today’s lunch—an open faced leftover salmon sandwich.

Well, this was the START of my lunch. Add bagel, pistachios, tortilla chips, half a banana, you get the picture.

And remember how conflict-ridden my domestic life was a month ago. Smooth sailing this week. I took Sixteen to the Farmer’s Market last weekend and bought her a double scoop ice-cream cone. And then she helped me pick these out for the Good Wife. End result. . . smooth seas for the forseable future!

Note to self—buy flowers more often. No other investment has as good a return.

The Great Recalibrating

Three years ago, back when Peyton Manning was a Colt and Tim Tebow a Gator, things were groovy at work and home.

I was enjoying bringing home the bacon and the GalPal was cool cooking it. She’d cook Mondays-Thursdays, I was Fridays and Saturdays which was great because we’d usually go out one of those nights, and we’d wait each other out on Sundays. Culinary homeostasis.

Actually, domestic homeostasis. She was laundry, me lawn. Her household maintenance, me financial planning. Her labradoodle, me cars. Her school paperwork, me taxes. Her hippy food co-op, me Costco. Her hardwood floors, me carpets. Her weeds, me edging and fall leaves.

And then things started to go south at work. I haven’t written much about that because everything is relative, I’m a tenured professor in a tough economy, and a lot of people would love to have my “first world” work problems. Long story short, I’ve been reorienting, tweaking my interests and identity so that both are less work-centric. I’m still committed to teaching well and doing right by my students, but I’m blogging instead of writing academic papers, sidestepping University Committees, not teaching summer school, and spending less time on campus.

The transition hasn’t been easy in part because deemphasizing work is tough to talk about with my friends who are in the prime of the careers and mostly enjoying working long hours. Doubt they’d understand my desire to strike a different work-life balance, to live more simply, to relish more than normal time alone, and to not be busy.

And while I’ve been striking a different work-life balance, my Betrothed has been too, but in the exact opposite way. She’s tired of taking care of the children and the house. She wants to be challenged in new ways, to broaden her identity, and to be of service to more than her family and house.

So right as I’m resigned to accepting the world as it is, she’s intent on changing it—by teaching adolescents to be bilingual.

Our different orientations present challenges on the homefront. Challenges that have resulted in some conflict. I’d like to used some of my freed up work time to hang out and travel with her, and she’d like that too, but her work schedule is a limiter. And she wants me to take on more domestic responsibilities. At first, when I objected to doing more around the house, she didn’t think I supported her desire to work. Through lots of discussion, she realizes I do. I dig her ambition and I’m glad she’s isn’t as cynical as me. I like that she still has a lot of fight in her.

One outcome of our talks has been a change-up in the kitchen. I’ve been “promoted” to Chief Cook and Grocery Shopper. Now I cook dinner Mondays-Thursdays and Sundays. While I work my “magic” in the kitchen, foreign language teacher lesson plans.

Some bumps have formed in the “dinner-prep” road. First, my repertoire is limited—all things breakfast, wraps, pasta, sandwiches and soup, pizza, all things breakfast, wraps, you get the idea. Second, I now appreciate more fully what the foreign language teacher has said sporadically in the past—the hardest part is deciding what to prepare. Of course, bumps one and two are related. Third, we’re always running low on some ingredient or we’re running low on some key staple—fruit, milk, eggs, etc. What I’d give for a close “one-stop” shopping store.

I hereby offer a belated, but heartfelt “thank you” to all the women who have played Chief Cook and Grocery Shopper at different times in my life—The foreign language teacher, mother-dear, big sister-dear, mother-in-law-dear. If you’re a woman who wishes the men in your life were a wee bit more appreciative, figure out how to get them to take over the grocery shopping, the cooking, and the kitchen detail for two weeks. That’s all it will take.

Our marriage, like most I suspect, works best when we pay at least as much attention to the other person’s needs as our own. The problem is selfishness comes more naturally and easily than selflessness. After 25 years, it’s time to think more about what I can do to help The Good Wife achieve her professional goals than how I can succeed in my own career. She’s always been supportive of my career and I’m indebted to her for that. It’s time to repay the favor. Here’s hoping she doesn’t get too sick of my cooking too soon.