Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I hope that someone out there is enjoying some green beer, b/c the green kool-aid that I’m stuck with is just not doing it for me.

The past couple of days have taught me a lesson about why procrastination is not worth it.

I will post more on this topic later on this weekend – this is not procrastination – I have been staring at this laptop for far to long…

Licking the earth

It’s never a good thing when you read one of the seminal “personal betterment” books of our time, and you end up reading a chapter where it feels like the author is personally pointing out to you just how much you suck. This happened to me when I got to the second chapter of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.

With these words, Covey has called me out:

“…But while the glitter of pleasure-centered life-styles is graphically portrayed, the natural result of such life-styles — the impact on the inner person, on productivity, on relationships — is seldom accurately seen…”

“…The pleasure-centered person, too soon bored with each succeeding level of ‘fun,’ constantly cries for more and more. So, the next new pleasure has to be bigger and better, more exciting, with a bigger ‘high’. A person in this state becomes almost entirely narcissistic, interpreting all of life in terms of the pleasure it provides to the self here and now.

“Too many vacations that last too long, too many movies, too much TV, too much video game playing — too much undisciplined leisure time in which a person continually takes the course of least resistance gradually wastes a life. It ensures that a person’s capacities stay dormant, that talents remain undeveloped, that the mind and spirit become lethargic, and that the heart is unfulfilled. Where is the security, the guidance, the wisdom and the power? At the low end of the continuum, in the pleasure of a fleeting moment.”


“Well, pH – how proud are you of your little philosophy now? Huh?”

Ok, so he didn’t actually write that last line, but it is close enough – or is it? Reading this section of the book made me stop, think, and worry a lot about what it is I intend to do with my life. After all, I have decided that “Prudent Hedonism” is a worthy philosophy to live by, and hedonism is nothing if not pleasure-centered, AND I believe that dear Mr. Covey is right about much of what he says with regards to too much of a good thing: banal, boring, waste.

But then again, it was no mistake that the name of this blog includes the word “Prudent”.

pru·dent adj.

  1. Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.
  2. Careful in regard to one’s own interests; provident.
  3. Careful about one’s conduct; circumspect

1. Wise in handling practical matters; exercising good judgment or common sense.

2. Careful in regard to one’s own interests; provident.

3. Careful about one’s conduct; circumspect
–>Haha, Mr. Covey – looks like maybe I’m not on the road to hell after all! Allow me to explain:

Prudent Hedonism to me, stems from my suspicion that a life not enjoyed is a life that’s not worth living. At the same time, however, I recognize that short-term enjoyment is rarely as good as (and often gets in the way of) longer-term, hard-earned gratifications. For example – blowing a couple hundred bucks on a sushi dinner at Origami is an amazing experience (especially when it can be enjoyed with good company). However, that couple hundred bucks could also be saved, and used to install that wet bar in the basement – something that will bring many nights of pleasure (especially when enjoyed with good company) instead of just that one.

The trick therefore, is to find the balance: life does require a little bit of instant gratification here and there, but too much instant gratification leads to missing out on many of life’s true pleasures.

As of late, I’ve come to the realization that my life is out of balance.I wallow too much in the world of instant gratification, and it’s led to a number of poor outcomes – I’m overweight, I live paycheck-to-paycheck, I stay with men who aren’t worth my time because they keep my bed warm (well, I got rid of that last problem at least).Part of why I’m writing this blog is because I know I need a little bit more “prudence” in my life. I also know that I’m not about to become a monk and give up everything that feels good all at once. So, I search for that balance.

All I’m asking of myself right now, is that I evaluate my wants and see how they interact with my needs (and maybe some of my longer term wants as well) in the hopes that I can stop sabotaging my life. I’m going to try to use these pages to record some of the interesting balances that I end up striking; some will be trivial (like the samoas-in-a-box), others will be more profound (like how to enjoy my tax refund while still being responsible with my windfall).

I’m hoping that you’ll enjoy watching me along the way and maybe learn a little something from my adventures.

Well, it seems like I’ve written what should have been the first post of this blog as the 5th. I don’t think it really matters though, since I don’t really have any readers yet (tracksy.com is all knowing and all seeing, and sees nothing). I hope my ramblings have made sense – and if you do happen upon this, and it strikes a chord, stick around – maybe we’ll both learn something.


Riffing on a groove

I like to believe that I’m a pretty decent cook when I’ve got a recipe to follow. In fact, if said recipe hails from Cooks Illustrated, I know for a fact that I am a gorram awesome cook (I swear, the recipes seem anal, but follow them word for word and they Just. Won’t. Fail.)

As good as I am when I’ve got directions to follow, something seems to seize up inside me when I don’t have that paper in front of me. Even if it’s a recipe I’ve made a dozen times before, I always seem to screw something up and it’s never as good. I’ve been trying to work on that by using recipes more as guidelines than rules really, and I have had some successes. The first major one was the Vegetarian Chili I concocted a few weeks back, which I’ll write about some day. Tonight’s dinner was a second good one: steamed rice, and swiss chard (stems sauted, then leaves added and steamed till wilted). I went really easy onthe seasonings: mushroom soup base, soy sauce, garlic and some granulated ginger. It was pretty good, if I do say so myelf.

I think that the secret to improving my improvisational skills is going to be starting off with a really simple base of seasonings, and not being afraid to add more later if I feel it’s necessary. What about you, my fellow Hedonii? How do you approach a fridge full of edible ingredients with no recipes to hold them together?

Samoans in a box

Hedonist: Buying 4 boxes of Samoas – not “Caramel Delites”… Samoas, the good stuff. Hand delivered today by the oh-so-cute daughter of a co-worker.

Prudent: Sharing one box with team mates at work (I swear, I ate less than half!), labelling 2 of them with future dates and giving them to B. with instructions NOT to give them to me until the appropriate date. Leaving me with only 1 box, which I will hold out as long as possible before opening.

Then again, there is the concept alluded to by this post title, which I guess would be better than most cookies…

I still think that the ultimate short term investment would be to order about 100 cases of Girl Scout Cookies (all flavours), sticking em in a freezer to keep them fresh, and then selling them on eBay around november/december-ish when everyone is jonesing but just can’t get them – bet you could get $6-7 a box, which is close to a 100% return over 10 months – not a bad deal at all.

I always wondered why people complain about french food being heavy.

I understand now. Butter, chicken fat, bacon…mmmmm. The coq au vin came out quite well, I must say – though I didn’t expect it to take quite so long (the step with the evaporating water off of the pearl mushrooms tooks like 30 mins as opposed to the 5 I thought. And who knew you needed to boil pearl onions to be able to peel them? Bah!

SJ’s gloves did get finished on time by some strange miracle. By 3am on Sunday I never wanted to pick up a pair of knitting needles again. By 12:50pm on Sunday I never wanted to see another inch of ribbon again. But they did get done. She wore them to the show, and got compliments from random people about them which makes me happy. The only disapointment I have it that I didn’t get a picture to post here and on Craftster. I will do my best to pester her for a picture of her wearing them.

If you’re interested, I got the pattern from Ysolda’s blog. I had to cast on 32 stitches instead of 20, and use 5 yards of ribbon total to have them sized for a normal person (Ysolda must be tiny!). I’ll post more details when I have pictures.

The Road to Coq au Vin.

So, D is coming over tomorrow night. The plan is to watch a movie or something (maybe I’ll be able to get him to let me watch the oscars), eat dinner, and fix his soundcard – actually it’s really just a wipe and reload of his OS, I’m sure I’lll find something to do with his soundcard as well.

So, is it silly to try to make a “classic” dish at home if you’ve never had it? Anthony Bourdain’s CaV recipe seems entirely reasonable – the only truly exotic ingredient is pearl onions, and it will give me a change to use the pork belly I got – chicken, wine, slabs ‘o bacon – how could this dish go wrong?

SJ’s opera gloves are about 51% done. Going out for game night last night was probably not the most responsible thing to do but damn it was fun*. I’m glad I finished the first one before I left. Given that it took about a good 6 hours of knitting to finish the first one, I predict a long night of knitting tonight (plus a long morning of cleaning tomorrow…yay!). My plan now is to leave school, go shopping, come home, knit until my hands hurt, start the chicken marinating, and knit s’more.

* remind me to post some day about that weird feeling you get when you feel like you’re being set up.