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2013.01.02: January 2, Electric Boogaloo

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Inside: Goals, the day in review, and a little more.

I. Day in Review, in 3 Parts

A. Doing: Just household chores for the most part, such as several loads of laundry and a little cleaning, changing the sheets on both beds, etc. But there's something simple and simply relaxing about it, not quite mindless, mind you, but more a matter of mindful solitude, a way to let your body be active so you can let your mind wander or focus on its own.

I also managed to break a drinking glass ... though I blame the dish washer. It was a bit fragile, but made for machine washing. I must have inserted it just a bit 'off'; then it cracked.

And then there was the preparation of Ms. S.'s late dinner; or rather there is the preparation, as it comes after I post this. We had some tofu in the fridge that we hadn't yet gotten to. We're going shopping tomorrow (so that will part of Thursday's "doing" I guess) and will stock up, I suppose. She likes it marinaded, cut into thin squares, coated lightly in a flour-spice-cornmeal mixture, and baked in the oven; you get something quite like a chicken nugget, and it goes well with mustard. I had my share for dinner, though I pan-fried it, as I am wont to do.

And I managed to awake at the scheduled time, not hit 'snooze,' feed the cats, and instead of returning to bed I did my morning calisthenics. My lower body workout video had to wait until the afternoon. As it was I was still tired and my back still hurt. And it still does; this has been a slower than usual recovery.

B. Learning: The more directed and academic 'learning' things I wanted to do today I didn't get around to.

On the 'passive' front I did a little reading, some for pleasure and some for 'work.' I read over the iCalendar RFC (I do love the formatting of those plain text documents). I helped a friend with his language-learning, and I reacquainted myself with some classical music -- especially Beethoven's symphonies -- that I'd not listened to in a while.

C. Creating: No crafting, drawing, or creative writing today. A while back I got an extra baking pumpkin, and it sat and sat. Today I cut into it ... finally! ..., roasted it until tender, and pureed the flesh of each half. The goal? coconut-almond milk pumpkin panna cotta. I made a luscious honey panna cotta over blueberry sauce for Christmas, but only Ms. S.'s father and I partook; whether Ms. S. will try some of this non-dairy dessert I do not know. The 'Almond Breeze' (with coconut) that I used is only 45 calories per cup; this improvised recipe is: 3/4 cup pumpkin, 2 cups 'milk,' 1 1/2 tsp gelatin, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and a good amount of spice (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, all as strong as you want, and 1 tsp vanilla extract). Mix the milk and pumpkin in a pot, and sprinkle gelatin atop; let it sit about ten minutes or until moist. Then slowly heat to a simmer and whisk until well-blended. Add sugar and spices while this occurs, and once a simmer is reached remove from heat, stir in vanilla, and pass through a mesh strainer to catch all the pumpkin fiber. You should end up with about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups liquid, which you then portion into 5 ramekins or custard cups; put plastic wrap or lids on them and place them in the fridge to set, at least 4 hours.

I'll have one tomorrow.

I still had about 3/4 cup pumpkin left, so using 1 1/2 cups of the Almond Breeze, 1/3 cup sugar, and the same spice mixture as before I just made 2 cups of pumpkin pudding; 1 Tbsp and 1 tsp cornstarch acted as the thickener, and after passing it through a mesh strainer I portioned it into four custard cups, which are now setting up in the fridge. I'm interested to see which one has the better texture.

Nothing fancy, but it was fun.

II. Goals

A. As previously mentioned I like to think occasionally in a dumbed-down, practical version of a pseudo-Hegelian dialectic, something with a thesis, antithesis, and a synthesis. I like, furthermore, to combine that with what I've described to my students as a 'synthetic' model of essay or argument: you begin either narrowly or broadly, then movde to a broad or narrow discussion (reverse of the intro), and return at the end to narrowly or broadly. As an example, you might start an essay with an anecdote (narrow), which will then lead you to a general (broad) disucssion of the topic, at the end of which you find another anecodote or quote (narrow) that summarizes or illustrates the topic. When combined with the dialectical model above, you can get, for example, beginning 'naively,' developing 'irony' (distance, abstraction), and turn to a new 'sincerity' that, like naivite, is 'close' to the subject matter (unlike the ironic, which imposes or accepts distance), but which has been 'changed,' perhaps into a more nuanced approach. Or consider the three-part progression of narcissism, then alienation, and then self-reflection (subject, (solitude in) the world, and back to the subject (but now considering its position in the world). How this applies to my 'goals' in the immediacy and activity of 'doing,' the mediated and slightly more passive 'learning,' and then an interactive and applied 'creating.'

I never claimed this was 'deep.'

But I would like, nearly every day, to accomplish something that fits all three broad categories.

B. Another 'goal' is to adapt the *way* I eat, only a little what I eat.

2012 helped me to choose better things to eat. I reduced my alcohol intact; it wasn't so much the 'amount,' because I've never been a heavy drinker, but now I'm a more reflecting drinker, more aware of how many empty calories I'm taking in. I still consume a good amount of caffeine, mainly before 3pm, and it doesn't seem to negatively affect my sleep. Meals that are for me and Ms. S. tend to be vegan; on occasion with some desserts and comfort foods they're lacto-ovo vegetarian, employing eggs and dairy for baking in particular. My animal consumption is mainly a significant number of eggs (mainly for breakfast), occasional tuna and more frequent sardines (my 'new' food of 2012), and meat or fish when we go out to eat. Rarely do I cook meat at home; partially it's out of consideration to Ms. S., who does not care for the smell (but does not care whether I eat it) and paritally out of concern for acquring quality and relatively humanely treated or sustainably farmed meat.

As for 'how,' I'd sort of describe it as 'German.'

If you look only for 'German diet' you won't get what I'm aiming for; you'll instead find a rather extreme and restrictive fad diet. No, I care more about a certain traditional portrayal of how German families eat, and to an extent what. There are three meals, a breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and possibly afternoon coffee hour. Breakfast is likely to include bread or rolls, cold cuts, cheese, butter and/or marmalade, and coffee. I prefer my model to be that of the youth hostel, which may have cold cereals as found in the U.S., but is likely to offer müesli. My current breakfast model is an egg or two and a müesli-like boal of oats, nuts, and berries along with my coffee and/or tea. The German midday meal is traditionally the largest, and that's where you'll find new/fresh hot dishes. That's your meat and potatoes along with hot vegetable sides, etc. I think of that as the time for a casserole serving or something multi-course; time for a grain, vegetable side or two, and protein. Dinner, often referred to as 'Abendbrot' (evening bread) rather than 'Abendessen' (evening meal), is frequently small and/or served cold, though I did have my share of full, hot meals that time of day. It's a good time for bread, butter, and slices of cheese and/or meat. And as a model I'd prefer to make it the soup and salad, or perhaps even triple-S (soup, salad, sandwich) meal. Coffee hour, or 'Kaffeestunde,' is after lunch and has what its name promises: coffee (or tea), as well as a cake or torte. It's a time to chat or perhaps read a while.

Let Kaffeestunde provide 'dessert' and leave desserts away from the main meals and away from the late evening. It's nothing revolutionary, but it's not often how Ms. S. and I eat, and while her work schedule may not allow for this kind of menu planning, mine does. I've eaten that way before and it's worked for me; come February (other things going on in January, after all!) it's what I'd like to start planning.


Last night after the first episode of season 3 of the 'X-Files' ("The Blessing Way") and the crazy-freak-out episode of 'Dollhouse' we took a break and then returned to the sofa for a movie, which would give Ms. S. plenty of opportunity to knit.

The offering?


It was my second time watching it, her first. While a deeply flawed film, it held up well. I had to laugh strongly at some of the silly humor, such as the whale-flinging, because those scenes are followed up by a surprisingly touching and resonant story. It's a tonal mess, the whole movie. It has problems. But if the Will Smith and Charlize Theron story doesn't touch your heart just a little, there's probably something wrong with you.

Tonight after Ms. S. returns we'll probably watch the next 'X-Files' episode before bed. 'Dollhouse' will probably have to wait until Thursday ... but you never know.
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