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!

Celebrating the victories

I’m trying not to harp too much on the whole new habits thing because this blog is already just a “ONE DIRECTION” poster away from being a tweenie bopper’s bedroom and too much navel gazing isn’t fun for anyone. On the other hand, this is cheap therapy and the worst thing that can happen is I will get only 2 likes on Facebook.

Actually I take that back, that is pretty horrible. I think I would have to sulk for hours. Quick, appeal to the masses!


I am proud of a few small victories:

  • I wrote every night I planned to write
  • I actually completed one chapter, 2500 words, of The Book

Of course, this is what I wrote Friday night:

I really really didn’t want to write tonight. This Week I am 1 for 5 for getting up early. So I am forcing myself to write this to keep a promise to myself.

Sometimes victory comes on a technicality.

One thing I didn’t really start to understand until I started keeping detailed notes was just how much of an impact the amount of sleep I’m getting has on my willpower. We live in such a cavalier culture when it comes to how little we sleep that I don’t appreciate the impact it has until I’m trying to do anything besides stagger through my life on autopilot clutching a cup of coffee and wishing desperately that I still smoked cigarettes.

Between the inherent sleeplessness of parenthood and the rhythm of modern life, we’re blase about the fact that many of us are getting, at best, 5 hours of sleep a night.

I have no willpower on 5 hours of sleep. None.

4 year old wants to draw on the walls with a sharpie? Go for it.

7 year old wants to pack a lunch consisting entirely of Aunt Jemima and Cheezits? Heck yeah why not.

Get up out of the recliner and go for a run? Are you freaking kidding me? There’s no coffee out there, not happening.

What worse, two of my favorite things– alcohol and coffee– make sleep worse. So I’m considering giving up coffee, which I think puts me in the certifiable grade A1 insane basket of broken eggs.

I bet Hemingway didn’t have to put up with this nonsense.

Celestial Seasonings this ain’t

I fell off the wagon, and then it ran me over

When I set out last week to add some structure to my life and adopt some positive new habits, I knew it would be hard.  I made it through the first 24 hours swimmingly, and then the second day the difficulty of sticking with my resolutions ratcheted up unexpectedly high. Thursday and Friday were a lot easier and I was convinced I had reached a new plateau of personal awesomeness.

The Plan: 1 Real Life: 0

Friday night I had a few beers and the next thing I knew I overslept Saturday. My whole strategy is to front load the morning with time for myself, which appeals to my selfishness and so (I thought) it should be easier to achieve. Then the dishwasher died an ugly, noisy death. Suddenly taking time to go exercise seemed a little too selfish when I had a job to do. My weekend was consumed by a blur of salvage stores and big box scratch and dent sections until we found a decent dishwasher. 

The Plan: 1 Real Life:1

Sunday morning started out well with a gorgeous morning that was perfect for a run with Mrs. Nostrikethat. My dishwasher woes continued as I discovered that I needed a pluggy thing, and no one sold the pluggy thing because we bought the Delorean of dishwashers and the only place to get the pluggy thing was the Internet, after a delay of 2 weeks. 

No bueno. Visit 4 more appliance stores trying to find a part.

Sunday evening turned into an impromptu neighborhood event as a few of us gathered our folding chairs and drank box wine while our kids ran around outside. Sunday evening wine turned into Sunday night beer, and by the time 11 o’clock rolled around my Irish-ish neighbor and I had consumed an embarrassing amount of alcohol for a work night.

The next morning I discovered that my alarm clock sounded suspiciously like my guilty conscience.


I spent the morning in bed trying to determine exactly what kind of carpet my tongue had turned into as I pondered what I’ve learned this week.

  1. The willingness to revisit your initial assumptions is a good thing. Saturday felt like a better cheat day than Sunday just due to the rhythm of our week.
  2. Revisiting your assumptions 2 days in a row is a nice way of lying to yourself about cheating.
  3. Some things seem urgent and will falsely distract you. I let myself focus on the dishwasher when I might have been better off stepping away on purpose to take care of myself.
  4. Never underestimate the power of beer.

With the dishwasher finally replaced and running, tomorrow is back to work. If I had to grade myself, I’d give me a “C” for the past week. This week we start again. Today was the first whiff of winter, and if I don’t have my new habits solidified by the time it gets cold and dark then nothing is going to happen in the winter.