My Illustrated Resolutions for the New Year

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  1. Strive for some regularity in my routine.

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    For troubles with sleep and uncertainty are most likely caused by this.

    Currently, my biggest problem is that I get distracted for hours. Worse, I can waste time perfectly well without the web. And then there’s the web.

    Work is bad as well; I’ve been known to sit with dinner in my lap gone stone cold because I sat down to close “one” ticket and it ended up being sixteen.

    I have an experiment at the moment: various playlists of a certain time length. I find that soft lounge music works best; something that lets me concentrate and that I notice when it stops. I used five hours of holiday music to remind myself to not work for 10 yesterday afternoon.

  2. Get all bills into automatic recurring pay.

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    Because when you work 60+ hours a week at a job that requires you to care deeply about complicated systems on the behalf of millions of people, remembering everything in your personal life is not within your capabilities after week 14 of the year.

  3. Buy one of those Zojirushi electric pots for work.

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    I have one for home, and I love it so. Plus tea calms me. And I have plenty of calming teas. Too bad I’ve never had them available when the high-priority screaming tickets come in.

  4. Be politically engaged.

    Because things are a bit too ragged around the edges right now to ignore it. Remember the calming tea. And plus, y’know, ah….

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    Exactly.

  5. Learn more about classical music.

    Well, I do have a gazillion CDs now. I should start at some point. I just wish they were all already in mp3 form.

    By the way, this book is extremely good for the classical music novice. It’s not just play lists, but also talks about the different styles and histories of music, covers multiple music periods, and is a great reference for the terminology and a little biography about the lives of each composer.

    He also adds some more composers as a sort of “read more” link. Or rather, “listen more.”

  6. Cook more at home.

    Restaurant food out there is getting expensive. I am technically not in the middle class tax bracket so I’m supposed to be out there spending my guts out, but dude, it’s not like I live in a cheap area of the country.

    Some of my basic kitchen weaponry in this battle:

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    Nile Spice

    These soups are both easy to prepare and healthy. And don’t make me sick. And are extremely portable to work.

    (Ooh. Please please bring Tomato Herb over to the local island haberdashery!)


    Joyce Chen Microwave Rice Steamer.

    Because when I get home at 8:45pm, which is much more often than not ((And yet this is still a less stressful work schedule than, say, someone who works in the West Wing.)), I’d like some rice in 15 – 20 minutes please. Works best with long-grain.

    Also does: pasta (perfectly al dente for some reason), steams vegetables (but really you could do that in something else), pops popcorn (haven’t yet tried, but I hear results are good).

    Rice Cooker.

    And of course a normal rice cooker. Although I do go high-end, just because then they actually last and also have plenty of cool and useful features—but frankly you can make do with simpler models, which also can be beat up with more impunity.

    But it’s not just for rice (otherwise I’d just use the Joyce Chen), but a rice cooker also lets you prepare entire meals all at once. Basically, chop up ingredients (or, if you have no time, find canned chopped up things), toss into cooker along with uncooked rice and some kind of broth, let rice cooker do the rest. Your recipe may not even involve rice.

    You should definitely check out Roger Ebert’s The Pot and How to Use It, which will get you to a much more flexible position. Recipes? Who needs them? Especially if you’re just doing fried bell peppers and beef.

    But for some recipes and other places to get started, see Recipezaar: Rice Cooker Oriental Chicken (steps 1-3; the others are if you’re doing this in a microwave for some reason, and no, not the Joyce Chen above), Pandora’s Feast (Veggie), Pasta in a rice cooker (with sauce and all), Rice Cooker Fried Rice.


    Crockpots.

    I have 3: a large round monster for mass-cooking multiple days of main meals and soups, a medium round for side dishes, and an oval one for any elongated things. And I have a freezer, of course, and many plastic containers.

    I try to get a Rival brand crockpot if I need one.

    Oh, and Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker has extremely good recipes. Haven’t found one dud in the bunch, but you want to buy your vegetable broth (it takes a lot of time to make otherwise) and some of the recipes are a bit complex, but are worth it if you have the time.

    I’m going to try to find another recipe book, since I no longer have vast amounts of time. I’ve found these books get reviewed like heck on the Amazon website, and people are quick to point out important sticking points, from “these are a bit complex” to “why does this one ask us to spray something into the pot each time? unnecessary” to “looking for something other than ‘dump canned chicken with mushroom soup into crockpot’”.

    I’m thinking Slow Cooker Magic: A Seasonal Selection of Family Favorite Recipes may be up my alley.

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    Microwaved Fish Fillets. There are a zillion microwave fish fillet recipes on the net, for a reason: damned easy and the microwave is an ideal place to do fish. Fillets are also cheap.

    With plain white rice, a seasoned fillet (or even a plain one with soy sauce) and some steamed vegetables, you’ve got an extremely healthy meal.

    Just try not to get fillet from poisoned fish. Which is getting a bit difficult to do these days.

    … right, back to the rest of the list.

  7. Clean and de-clutter.

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    Yes, I seriously need to do this (don’t we all?). Mostly I need to figure out where everything belongs and then just put it all back where it belongs. And it needs to really belong there.

    Also I need to learn how to properly clean things. Knowing the right technique to do windows is probably going to save some pain the next time around.

    I have some things I need to hire a handyman dude to fix. Or an electrician. Or whatnot. Somewhere this must fit into the budget.

    Bunch of books to donate still. Bunch of just stuff to donate since I don’t need them. Need to get my so-called office tidied up, because…

  8. Keep work and life separate.

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    My job is stressful. What few hours of peace I get need to be cleanly delineated, or else I go crazy (plus I start to intersperse work with everything else in my life, and that’s just asking for trouble).

    This week I’m working from home, and I’m using my home office place for the first time in forever. It’s also a place where I can play music over speakers (though not all that loudly). That’s helped quite a bit; I could see making a stop there in the mornings and then at nights to pick up stuff and then drop off the stress.

  9. Write more.

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    That’s nice and ambiguous. Write what?

    Well, obviously I’m going to write in my blog, with a mind towards writing with a column mentality.

    I’m definitely writing more reviews. They’re, as I’ve said before, difficult for me to write, but I’ll keep banging my head away at them. This dovetails with…

  10. Read more.

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    My commute is long and often involves wait periods at either end. However, I use a ferry, which means someone else worries, and I get to stare out across the Sound and read on my Kindle.

    I’m going to try for one book a week, which seems reasonable. And yields copy.