An ode to my rice cooker

Since I started my New Year in September, I’ve had about as much success as most people do with their New Year’s Resolutions… occasional glimpses of promise in between long, long periods of arse-kicking darkness.

Which is why I love my rice cooker.

I should back up a bit.

The Plan and the Rut

Here’s what’s supposed to happen in my mornings:

  1. Get up while it’s still dark
  2. Drink a cup of coffee, then go walk the dog
  3. Get back from walking the dog, go for a run
  4. Shower, shave, eat breakfast
  5. Help the kids get out the door to school as required

Here’s what actually happens most mornings

  1. Alarm goes off when it’s dark. Crack open eyes, realize it’s still dark and I’m not in high school any more, go back to bed.
  2. Wake up slightly later in the middle of a dream about the cheese selection at the grocery store.
  3. Stumble downstairs, hit the button on the Keurig.
  4. Fumble for sugar.
  5. Spill sugar on counter.
  6. Curse.
  7. Dump sugar mostly in coffee.
  8. Look for creamer in the fridge- it’s not there.
  9. Look for creamer in the garage fridge– not there either.
  10. Contemplate killing someone.
  11. Look for creamer again in fridge. Find it.
  12. Decide killing someone for leaving creamer in the fridge might be an over-reaction.
  13. Move dog out of the recliner.
  14. Sit in recliner inhaling dog farts and drinking coffee.
  15. Wonder what the dog had for dinner last night because his farts smell different.
  16. Check facebook page.
  17. Wish vainly for more followers.
  18. Drink second cup of coffee. Apologize to family for any death threats I may have uttered in the past half hour.
  19. Put on a hat and a jacket and take kids to school in my pajamas.
  20. Decide to go exercise at a nice leisurely hour of 9:30 or so.

As you can see, there is a little bit of divergence between the imagined state and the actual state.

In the absence of any external stimuli, like most single-celled organisms I tend to just sit around and eat, excrete, and reproduce. It’s not a bad way to go by any stretch. The problem is that I’m not actually an amoeba, I just play one on the Internet.

Next blog post: it's all in your semi-permeable membrane
Next blog post: it’s all in your semi-permeable membrane

Here’s where the rice cooker comes in.

Better living through oatmeal

Like most non-Asian people, I had no idea that I needed an electric rice cooker for many years. When we ate rice (which was not often) my mom just made it on the stove. The brilliance of a rice cooker, however, is the combination of controlled boiling and a delay timer. Paired with a crock pot, it makes for some truly delicious eating with no attention span required.

There is a little bit of biological research that suggests there really are early birds and night owls and it’s not just a matter of pure choice. I am at my most alert in the afternoon and evening. Now I set up the rice cooker to wait several hours and then start cooking the steel cut oats. This is a perfect set up for me because I can put the energy in when I have it the most (at night) and take advantage of the output at a time when I need it the most, which is when I am contemplating murder with a spoon because I can’t find the creamer.


Little Improvements

Based on my success with oatmeal, I am going to try harder to do more things at night before I go to bed. I need to break out of my dog-fart laden routine and try things a little different. Since I’m always after the kids to focus on the good things, here’s a short list of what did get done:

  1. 9 blog posts
  2. 1.5 chapters finished on “The Book”
  3. 26.5 miles run
  4. Get inspired by oatmeal

Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right?

I’d love to hear from you all about your goals and how you’re doing, or if you have any tips for automating your morning routine. Let’s commiserate together!

Day 2 is the bane of my existence

In case you missed my last post, on Monday I embarked on a grand quest to align my chakras, fung my shui, and generally get my crap together. I resolved to:

  • Get up at 6 every day. AM. For realz.
  • Spend only 15 minutes half an hour some amount of time less than an hour staring into my coffee every morning
  • Haul my carcass around the neighborhood as if chased by something threatening but not very fast
  • Not forget to ingest calories besides the cream and sugar in my coffee
  • Notice that I have 5 other family members plus a dog all getting ready to start their day and try to help someone besides the dog, who has got his post wake-up nap routine solid

Tuesday morning I didn’t exactly pop out of bed, but I more or less managed to do it. Coffee was consumed in moderate quantities, although slower than I would prefer, which means I need an espresso machine for Christmas. Suck-Up Dog was roused from slumber and unceremoniously dragged through the neighborhood. Something resembling exercise happened, or at least that’s the explanation I decided on for why I was so incredibly sweaty gross and disgusting smelling before breakfast. I even sat down and wrote a couple more paragraphs of The Book, bringing the grand total to… a couple of paragraphs. I was feeling pretty smug.

Celebrating, I stayed up until about 12:30 reading, hyped up on victory and certitude.


Wednesday morning came crashing in like a thing that does a lot of crashing.

My similes are suffering. I am seriously tired.

I came to about half a mile from my house, where I discovered to my shock that I was wearing clothes, sweating, and moving at what Stevie Wonder might call a “run” if he saw me doing it.

Suck-Up Dog didn’t get walked, but he didn’t do much this morning besides look smug as he laid there looking like a bag of mulch with a tail in the middle of the living room.

I think I ate someone’s leftover breakfast off their plate.

Mrs. Nostrikethat drove the kids to school. BUT I WAS AVAILABLE TO HELP.

The first 24 hours of any new habit is pretty awesome. Newness in general is usually reason enough to try something– we are novelty seeking creatures in a world that provides endless opportunities to try something New and probably Improved, too.

The second 24 hours are where dreams are shattered.

I’m not going to sit here and pretend I am a big man because I managed to get up at the same time twice in a row, because on the scale of Hardest Accomplishments of Mankind this comes in at the “buttering toast using fake butter” level of difficulty.

My three year old manage to do it every dang day without an alarm clock, and he can’t even wipe himself. It can’t be that hard.

I am, however, going to sit here and pretend that even this tiny bit of self improvement is worth doing, if only because it’s funny to sit here and think of new ways to describe my fat dog, and because Gandhi said “Be the change you want to see in the world…unless it involves waking up too early then you might want to reconsider.”

New Year, New Habits

There are people in this world that get up every day and relish the challenge that life brings. Then there are folks like myself that get up every day and manage to consume a cup of coffee without hurting anyone. Life’s challenges don’t come until about an hour after the second cup.

I spent a good portion of my 20s and early 30s trying to convince myself that I was a motivated go-getter. I have passed my natural half-life at this point so I decided to be honest with myself: I am actually pretty content to just putter around the house and try a new flank steak marinade. 

I signed up for the newsletter by this guy James Clear, who writes a lot about the power of habits. A lot of it is standard motivational type stuff, but some of it speaks to me so I keep reading. I am also a BIG believer in the power of habit. There are some things in my life that are already on auto-pilot, but there are a lot more things that I don’t do regularly that I’d like to make automatic. 

If I was sitting down and designing a calendar from scratch, I wouldn’t pick January to start a new year. I owe nothing to Janus, for one. For two, it’s too cold, I’m broke from Christmas, and the last thing I want to do is haul my carcass out of hibernation in some misguided attempt to make a New and Better Me.

September is a great month to start a new year. It feels a lot more precipitous for change. Still on the edge of summer, but you know colder weather is right around the corner so you better get that harvest in if you want to eat.

January really has a lot of the “just ride it out” quality to it– in September there’s still time to scramble and get things done if you hurry.

Today I decided to write down a bunch of stuff in my calendar so it would show up on my phone as a repeating reminder. Every day except for Sunday, I am going to:

  • Get up at the same time every morning
  • Have only one cup of coffee, then go for a run
  • Come back and put on Grown Up Clothes, as if I Am Going to Leave The House
  • Eat a decent breakfast and help the rest of the family get out of the door on time every morning so I can walk the kids to school
  • Sit down at the computer and try to write for at least 30 minutes

It is a sign of how far I have to go that I am going to feel accomplished about waking up.

I have always struggled with slipping into Sloth Mode… I want to create a feeling of wrongness when I’m not doing these things. I am particularly excited about the last one, because it’s led to this post, and will, in time, get me to finish The Book.

Yes I am writing a book. No I don’t want to talk about it right now. But I have an outline, so that’s a start.

Any of you all struggling with bad habits and trying to form good ones? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.