Thursday, August 29 2019

home, eating, chores, and organization

Dear Journal,

Good morning everyone, and happy Thursday to you all. Yesterday, I worked from home, which is something I haven't indulged in since about a month ago. During the summer internship program, I just went into the office everyday to be more available for questions and help. But boy did I miss the remote Wednesdays. It was a deeply relaxing and productive day. The thing about working from home is that you have more control over what kind of interruptions you have. People still send you slack messages, but you can respond to them when you have time or you're mentally ready for a break in the action. Without the commute, you also have the added benefit of just rolling out of bed when it's time to work. There's less spin up time. But all things in balance - it's undeniably easier to attend meetings and talk to people in a real room.

Yesterday I plowed through a lot of solo work, and I also had time to fix up some IT around the house. Between work tasks, I set up a VPN server on my router, which will allow me remotely access stuff on my private network from, say, work. Which is really helpful - sometimes I take a note on my home computer and forget to save/push it, and normally I'd just have to go all day without the information. I'm looking forward to quickly testing it out later today.

Picking up an old Wednesday afternoon tradition, my wife and I went to Glass Nickel for lunch and a beer. I must have gotten over-excited, because I scarfed down my meal and a wave of little deep fried appetizers too quickly. It took a while for that to settle in my stomach.

After work, I took Rodney to Hy-Vee to pick up things for stir fry, which was selected on its merits of being yet another excuse to practice rice. I made a double batch this time, and it without the butter it came out much better. It's funny how most of my entry yesterday was ranting about how much I hate making rice. Yesterday I really enjoyed it. A double batch looked pretty impressive coming out of the pan, and was exciting enough to make me forget about my "beef" with boiled grains.

Rodney helped cut the vegetables. Don't worry, he was using "Rodney's knife", which is just a butter knife from the silverware drawer. He actually managed to cut a clove of garlic in half, so I was impressed. Right before I threw the vegetables into a wok, I noticed there were little bit marks in the zucchini. Rodney had been grazing on cut wedges and just putting them back in the bowl, which is just a huge party foul, isn't it?

After dinner, I put Rod to bed and got to work chores and things. Lately, to make the most use out of my time in the evening, I'll make a checklist in my notes under a section called "Tonight", then hit the tasks one at a time. The ritual has even kind of turned into a mini "sync up" with Marissa, as usually she'll join me to finish the list, which can include questions, topics, ideas, or things I need to run by her.

One of the chores I did yesterday was cleaning out the fridge, and being about a week since the we brought back a haul from the farmer's market, I had lots of organic, wilting produce to sort out, so it was a pretty decision-heavy evening. I have a trick with organizing the fridge - you end up with a cleaner result if you try to advertise each food item you're storing. And by advertise, I guess I mean move it to a place where it's easier to see and eat. This could mean turning labels forward, wiping residue off of a jar lid, cutting up browning bananas and leaving the slices in Tupperware, and in general just making sure everything is visible and appetizing. What's funny is that Marissa and Rodney aren't big into snacking, so I'm the one that ends up raiding the fridge for these snacks. Don't you see, readers? I'm really just doing all of this for me and my heavy snacking lifestyle.

It's pretty gratifying to clean out expiring food. I'm a huge fan of expiration dates. I stumbled onto a reddit thread that was mildly shaming people who "live or die" by the little date stamped onto food items. The general consensus was that you should instead rely on taste, look, and smell. While I understand expiration dates aren't perfect, and that you won't die if you consume something a day after the expiration date, it really does make it easier to organize you're food. I don't have time to squeeze, sniff, taste and inspect everything in my fridge. The system doesn't need to be perfect - it just needs to be good enough.

That's the thing about staying organized. You have to be willing to iterate on a system, and momentum is important. If you wait around for the perfect piece of software, the right day planner, or a Saturday afternoon where you have time to clean and sort everything in one long binge, you lose all the momentum. Do a little bit every day, and if something isn't working out, take note of it and improve it later.

That's my time. Hope you all have a wonderful Thursday. I don't like telling you what to do, but when was the last time you cleaned out your fridge?