Tuesday, October 20 2020

life hacks, corn tortillas, and eating faster



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone. Happy Tuesday. And if you happen live in my neighborhood, let me also wish you a happy garbage day.

Can I share a good life hack with you? The city empties our beige garbage cans each Tuesday morning, but they only pick up the dark green recycling cans every other Tuesday. I remember when we first moved into this house, I had trouble remembering if it was a recycling week or not. Ultimately I'd have to guess. Sometimes I guessed correctly, and other weeks I'd have to sprint down our icy driveway in my bare feet and bathrobe with our overflowing recycling bin skittering behind me.

So to help me remember when the recycling weeks are, I came up with a new system where I always retrieve the garbage can first. If it's a recycling week and both empty cans are on the curb, the garbage can gets returned to position one up right against the garage. The recycling bin follows, and I leave it in position two beside the garbage can. If it were not a recycling week, then we can assume the recycling bin is still up by the driveway in position one. While returning the garbage can, I slide the recycling bin over to position one up against the garage, and the trash bin takes its place at position two.

I like this system because if I ever have a doubt, I can just look outside to see which can is closest to the garage. If it's the recycling bin, that means it's a recycling week.

"Wouldn't it make more sense to use the can that's closest to the end of the driveway?" asked Marissa. I'm not going to lie, that's solid rebuttal. But at this point after using this dumb system of mine for almost two years, I'd be too scared to change things up on my brain now.

I have another dumb life hack like that for deodorant. I noticed that for whatever reason, the stick wears down unevenly. I think it has something to do with how I hold the stick with my right hand. After a few weeks of use, my deodorant looks slanted - one side worn down to the plastic lip while the other side still had several millimeters to go. Similar to my garbage can system, I set up a new even dumber system in which I always hold the stick with the cap facing towards me, and when I'm done I switch the cap to the other side - the theory being that if I alternate daily, I can wear down the stick more evenly.

But there's trouble in paradise. My favorite deodorant switched to a more minimal style of lid that is completely symmetrical. With no label or special markings on either side, it's impossible to know which is the front and which is the back. I think the problem is unsolvable, and that's OK. I guess you can't control everything.

Sip. How are you feeling today? It's a beautiful, chilly day today. And furthermore, it feels good to be back on my regular virtual console. While rebuilding the server, I had to resort to a more temporary writing setup without my usual bells and whistles. I didn't have my automatic image resizer, my script that posts to slack and twitter, or any of my keyboard shortcuts. I finally finished setting up my virtual console, and let me just say it's good to be back home - virtually.

Despite the wine hangover and iffy sleep, yesterday went amazingly well. Perhaps the coffee hit just right, or I was just feeling cozy from beginning a new laundry cycle, but out of nowhere I found this extra wellspring of energy that kept me going all day.

It was a busy day. Kicking off a new sprint at work, adding some new consultants to our team, getting ready for the internship. I also woke up to find out that I was on-call and had a slew of questions to triage in our support channel.

The real highlight of yesterday was makings tacos for dinner, but first let me tell you about our marriage. On the surface, Marissa and I look happy and compatible, but beneath the thin veneer of amicability lies a chasm of disagreement. A cold war we've silently and privately fought throughout or marriage. I've finally found the courage and conviction to come forward about our struggle and admit this publicly, and I have faith in our friends and family that we won't be judged for it.

Here it goes. Marissa and I... disagree about which tortillas to buy.

Marissa insists on flour tortillas. Big, soft, spongy comfort food wrapping - the whiter the better. And me? Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to pig out on some junk food when the time calls for it. I respect Taco Bell too much to universally turn my nose at flour tortillas. The Crunchwrap supreme is a masterpiece that would be otherwise ruined if you were to replace the beautiful flour tortilla.

But I like corn tortillas too, and I think certain tacos just taste better that way, especially when you are trying to capture the whole authentic picture.

So last night, I planned a food intervention. The theme of the meal was learning to love corn tortillas. We made tiny street style tacos with ground pork, cilantro, and chopped red onion. On the side, we had some refried beans and Mexican rice.

I don't want to be too optimistic, but I think we broke ground last night. Adorned in all of Marissa's favorite ingredients like cilantro, red onion, and fresh guacamole, she permitted the brief departure from flour tortillas. There's hope yet.

Rodney struggled with dinner. For a kid who can barely hold his focus on using a fork, he quickly turned his plate of quaint rolled up tacos into a tattered, wet mess of tortilla and meat. Rodney reached over his plate, feasting on chips.

"That's enough chips," I scolded. "You need to eat your food."

"No, it's too spicy," said Rodney. In a huff, I sprang out of my chair, paced around the room, and sat beside him. "You eat," I said sharply. For the next twenty minutes, we'd share what must have been the dullest moment of our lives, silently staring at each other while Rodney reluctantly grazed one small mouth full at a time.

"So sorry about that, dada," said Rodney, trying to butter me up.

"What are you sorry about?" I retorted.

"Ummmm...," Rodney scratched the back of his head. "Eat faster?" he asked.

"Bingo," I said. "You're a big boy now. I'm getting sick of you being the last at the table. You need to eat."

Kids are frustrating. I don't feel great about how the prevailing take-away from this struggle is eat faster. I wish I could get it through to him that he needs to do a better job balancing eating and talking, or that we wouldn't get so hungry in his room if he did a better job finishing his plate. But after numerous nights of nagging Rodney to take each bite of food, eat faster is the best we can do, and that's good enough for now.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Hope you have a wonderful day today.