“Damn Good Food“. First edition, 2009. Ann Bauer. And, of course, Mitch Omer. The book that launched a thousand jars of peanut butter. A cookbook that compels you to read it from cover to cover. It’s one year later. You may think Hell’s Kitchen is about Gordon Ramsey, but the real one is here in Minnesota and beneath it all is Mitch – and no one can touch him.
Government IT drone by day, wannabe chef at night. Too old for more children, too young for retirement, and too bitter for anything else, Mike Donnelly was looking for a challenge. And in the Mike/Mitch project he found it. Risking his marriage, his job, and his bank account’s well-being, he has signed on for a deranged assignment.
365 days. 157 recipes. One geek and a not so crappy midwestern kitchen.
How far will it go? We can only wait. And wait. And wait…..
The Mike/Mitch Project. Coming soon to a computer terminal near you.
[NOTE:This makes a lot more sense and is even slightly funny if you are familiar with the movie Julie & Julia and the blog that inspired it.]
[YES, ANOTHER NOTE:This blog entry in particular is better if you've read the first entry on The Julie/Julia Project]
With only a few hours left to go I think I am safe to say that I made it an entire month with no television. I did watch two movies, but I did not sit on my couch in front of the TV at all. I am not sure how much of an achievement it is because I mostly just shifted my wasting-time-in-front-of-the-TV to wasting-time-reading-a-book.
Whoa, Mike! Reading isn’t wasting time you say. But it kind of is because I thought I would get all sorts of stuff done and by stuff I mean blogging and by blogging I mean SQL blogging. I did do some SQL writing, but nothing like I thought I would. Not even a few percent of what I had planned. Instead I sat on the couch and read a book most evenings. It was different from TV mostly in that it was a lot less social. My family still watched a few shows and in one instance Kira even tried to get me to watch Mad Men with her because it didn’t make sense for her to watch it by herself. I almost gave in and watched it with her, but then I figured at least for the sake of saying I went the entire month that she should just watch it without me.
I think my instincts were right and that a month isn’t really long enough for this experiment. I think No TV for a year could actually change some habits.
Next Month is June and I will hopefully be photo blogging every day (but maybe not).
June is No Words.
I love TV.
I grew up with the Cosby’s and the Keatons. I spent my post college years with my Friends and Mr. Seinfeld. I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek at least once and every episode of Cheers and M.A.S.H. at least twice. Most nights you can find me on the couch with my brain in shutdown mode watching Mr. Farnsworth’s magic box.
When I was a kid it never bothered me. I could watch the same episode of Gilligan’s Island for the third time and think nothing of the 30 minutes I had just wasted. As I got older I used to think about those wasted minutes on occasion, but there was always some great Must See TV that distracted me from worrying about it too much.
For the last couple of years I have really started thinking about the amount of TV I watch (and the amount my kids watch). I did some quick calculations to estimate how much television I have watched in my life. If I watched about 10 hours a week (which is low, but I figure I didn’t watch much the first couple of years), I can conclude that I have spent over three years of my life watching TV.
Can you imagine what you could do in three years?
I can. In three years I could have
- Traveled around the world
- Written a novel (or two?)
- Cooked my way through three cookbooks
- Built an amazing tree house (you know, for the kids)
- Learned a foreign language
- Memorize 1000 digits of Pi (however, I am told this does not take three years)
- Spent three years doing things with my family
- Become an expert on [fill in the blank] technology
- Built an Ark (Or did that take 40 years?)
- Read the complete works of Issac Asimov (506 published works)
- Figured out some items to make this list longer
It’s a staggering amount of time and the rational part of my brain is telling me that it isn’t all at once so it doesn’t really work like that, but the other part of my brain is saying
3 freakin’ years!
One of my original ideas for blogging this year was to go the whole year without TV. I allowed myself to be talked out of it mostly because of how much TV has become a part of my family’s daily routine. Also because more than caffeine, more than good food, and more than napping I am addicted to TV. I haven’t watched anything on TV since May began and I don’t think a month will be that hard because I have a lot to keep me busy right now. My solution so far has just been to pick up a book when I feel like I want to turn my brain off. The hard part is that we seem to have made watching a show on TV the only group activity. One night we did starting reading the second Hunger Games book, Catching Fire, out loud, but that has been the exception.
For the first week of May no one in the house watched TV, but we all went off and did our own thing. For the second week I was on my own because everyone else went back to watching a bit of TV each night. It was a busy week though so it didn’t really even feel weird to not watch anything. I went to a Twins game on Wednesday, had beer and a movie* on Thursday, and tonight my daughter Sarah had a party with her friends to celebrate turning 13. I think that is going to be the trick to this no TV thing – I have to keep busy. With the way life has been around here recently this should not be a problem.
Will I be able to go a whole month without TV? Stay tuned to find out.
*And yes the movie was on a TV, but it was for my other blog so I made an exception. They are both arbitrary blogging goals so I get to choose which one takes precedence.
April has flown by here in Minnesota. The third week in April was Melanie’s week to get no excuses, but she didn’t get much of a week because I went out of town for three days. I sort of planned her week to be that way. She knows why. She still managed to get me to take her out for dessert twice and when we were both at home at the same time she had me help her empty the dishwasher. We also managed to finish the first season of Buffy that week so I think she did alright. Of course it wasn’t just my busy life that kept us from doing things together. Melanie has a lot going on right now. That same week she had to be on hand for an opening at the Minnesota History Center. She is on the Teen Advisory Council at the history center and they have been working on an exhibit for most of the year. It was a great exhibit and a great opening night (the exhibit ended last night so I am a little late with this post, but there was a video that I am hoping to get my hands on and we do have some pictures. Melanie was also busy with rehearsals for her school’s musical, Bye-bye Birdie. She played the part of Mrs. MacAfee. And lastly she was busy that week writing an essay which won her a scholarship for the IB World Conference in Spain this summer. So not totally my fault if she and I didn’t spend a lot of time together during her week.
The last week in April went to Kira and if possible I think she was even busier than Melanie. I also think the no excuses concept didn’t translate quite as well for grown ups. We did manage to spend the day together this past Saturday. We went out to brunch at the New Louisiana Cafe and then browsed antique shops for several hours. This is something we used to do a lot back when we were younger, but haven’t done in a long time.
Looking back I’m not sure how good of an idea this was for the blog, but it did lead to some fun activities that wouldn’t have otherwise happened, so it was worthwhile. Next month’s No Idea is a little more concrete, but I’m also not quite sure what I will blog about.
[Hiking update: Sarah and I haven't managed to get in another hike yet, but I we are both committed to working up to a 6 mile hike by the end of the summer. We will make time for this.]
The second week in April was Sarah’s week to get no excuses from her old man.
Very quickly Sarah took a page from Max’s book and asked me to go and get ice cream with her, but other than this I think she struggled a bit to take advantage of the situation. Sarah does very well entertaining herself and she can spend hours quietly wrapped up in her own world. (I wonder where she gets that from.) I helped with her chores a little, but she didn’t ask every day.
In the end Sarah and I used this week to kickstart* an idea she and I had discussed earlier in the year. One of my hopes last year was to run a 5K race with the whole family. We did some running together in the spring of 2011, but it never came together. I decided this year to try a more focused approach and I would run three races, one with each kid. Sarah didn’t speak out against the idea, but it was obvious she wasn’t interested in running. I asked if she would be more interested in doing nature hikes instead. She agreed and we doubled the goal distance to 6 miles; no running required.
To start our hiking adventures we went to the book store together. I got a book on trails in the Twin Cities and she got the new Warriors manga. One of the “hikes” listed in the book was our own Como Lake. Sarah and I had done that walk the night before.
Como Lake Trail √
I searched through and found some short hikes to start with close to Saint Paul. On Saturday we did the Villa Park Trail, which was a great trial hidden in the middle of Roseville. The whole trail was only a little over a mile and we wandered along at a nice pace. We saw (and heard) lots of birds. We got to see a heron take off and land, and there was one lone turtle sunning on a log.
The plan is to try to do one hike a week, but we had time this weekend so we went out on Sunday and did another short hike. this time we did the Trout Brook Regional Trail (also in Roseville). This walk was about a mile and half. We didn’t see as much wildlife and we got a few spits of rain on us, but I think I liked this trail better, it felt less manicured. Of course both of these trails are considered “urban hikes” and the trails were paved. I’m looking forward to driving out of the cities a little bit and doing some real hiking.
It was great to spend one on one time with Sarah. I had forgotten how much she enjoys nature, but seeing her excitement when she would spot a butterfly or take a short dirt path off the paved trail was pretty cool.
I am out of town this weekend, but I think that is the only excuse that will keep us from doing more hiking this summer.
* Speaking of kick starting you still have a few hours left to help out Hell’s Kitchen’s new bakery, Angel Food. They are getting a lot of buzz around this kickstarter and the bakery in general. Delicious, delicious buzz. (Ends on 4/21)