What’s up with the political philosophy angle to the names? We have a once crippled John Locke and a crazy French lady named Rousseau cast away on a tropical island. It is no coincidence? Is this just some nod toward social contract theory or is there anything more to it?
Now here’s a milestone. Today we shot past 200K users of the website we built. It took us almost 300 days to reach 100K users and less than 100 to double that.
I love that the simple idea for this site is catching on. Making a list of what you want out of life helps you to focus on what is really important. Going public with your goals helps you find support and connect with people who will cheer you on. Once you meet with success, you can share your story with others and give advice on how you met your goal. It’s a simple, life satisfying cycle.
Here’s a dream for the future. Five years from now, people will be hired based on their 43 Things. Ten years from now, degrees will be granted based on completing your 43 Things. What you’ve done in the past matters, but not as much as what you want to do in the future. The performance review, the prenuptial agreement, the resume, the transcript are nothing compared to a well crafted list of what you want to do with your life, a thoughtful collection of entries and the support of your fellow human beings.
I’ve had a couple of breakthroughs on this goal. The first was really just a better way to conceptualize what this goal means to me. The goal is really to have dinner be the best part of the day – a time where the family pulls together, we enjoy each other’s company, share conversation, and everyone feels the family connection. I read a description in The Unprejudiced Palate that helped me think of it a bit more clearly:
There is a simple, enduring joy – and it needs to be discovered – implicit in the preparation of such excellent dinners that [the family] would deem it a grave misfortune to miss one of them. It is the solid, thoroughly human satisfaction derived from doing something which inspires admiration while it promotes the happiness of others. [p. 36]
So the goal isn’t so much about what is cooked (though it should be good and enjoyable) as it is about the time spent together and the good feelings that come from it. This is a long-term project – to make our table a reliable base for family and friends – and to make our kitchen capable of serving as a magnet that draws in our family and friends.
I think a key for making this happen is realistic planning. In a later chapter in the same book, the author, Angelo Pellegrini suggests a cook should plan one hour to one and a half hours to prepare the meal. Now in a family with 2 kids under 5, this is a serious chunk of time to dedicate to anything – but I think that is realistic – and I can now see how many dinners end in stress or disappointment from trying to do in 20 minutes what really takes 3 times that long.
Another key is appropriate planning. Also, with 2 young kids., the goal isn’t to serve a dinner that “wows” it is to serve a meal that satisfies – so that means serving reliable food people like to eat and not focussing to much on “interesting” or exotic explorations. It also means being prepared so not every meal generates new stresses with shopping or additional logistics.
The goal is really to lay down a good foundation for family dinners that the kids will enjoy as they grow up and the parents can look forward to. I want it to be a meal that the kids friends say “let’s eat at your house” and where friends know they can drop in and get well fed.
Lastly, to pull this off, I need to get home earlier to make the dinner preparation less stressful and more successful. I think the other robot’s think I’m nuts for caring this much about dinner, or see this as a waste of time. But I think it is probably the most important thing I can do to ensure a lifetime of happiness. Go figure.
I’ve had this goal on my list for months and I’ve made no progress. I started thinking about why, and I concluded I don’t really care enough about it to get it done. This is not an unconsidered carelessness so much as a considered decision not to plan on disaster.
Once I decided to quit planning for the worst I felt such a relief. I think the USA is in a bit of a haze these days with run away fears of disaster and survival and I think I found myself caught up in that thinking. Sure, it makes sense to have a radio and candles, some can food or energy bars, etc. but once you start down that path it kind of goes in kooky directions. What about a tarp? Or duct tape? What about a gun? Or a ham radio? What sort of disaster was I preparing for again? I’ve been so caught up in my planning for panic I’ve forgotten what I’m fearing.
I think the most important things I need to do for this goal are: make sure my family knows where to meet, should we become separated and unable to communicate; make sure my wife and I know how to turn off the gas and water inside the house and out at the street (and make sure we have a tool big enough for the job). After that, I’m going to focus on having a good time with my life and not plan for the worst. I’m not saying that those who do plan aren’t smart to do so – I just discovered that constitutionally, I think I’d do better thinking of something more positive, because once I start worrying about a disaster I won’t be finished until my home is a fortress and I know more than the local FEMA director.
The chapter on wine is a kick – and had me ready to turn my basement into a vinter’s operation. Todd offered to loan me some of his equipment and told me I can buy grape juice, and thus avoid mashing with my feet or needing to order 2.5 tons of grapes. I learned my Mother (who gave me the book) also had met Angelo Pellegrini back in the day.
With Paseo closed for the Winter, the Drunken Chicken sandwich is sounding so good right now. Is the bread chewy? Yeah, it is called a baguette, and it is delicious. Is the chicken crunchy? Yeah, it’s been deep fried until it is delicious and then coated in spicy gooey goodness. This is not a sandwich to try and look cool eating – you need to wedge it together and go for it. And try the truffle fries and the beets.
Just over 15 years ago, during x-mas break from my first year in college, a bunch of friends headed off to see a movie in the snow. We caught a buss from Capitol Hill to the U district and headed to the Metro Cinemas. My pal Greg was super excited to see Goodfellas, as was his girlfriend Jill and our friend Mary. Anne wasn’t so excited, but I was excited to be hanging out with Anne. At the theater there Cinema Paradiso was also showing and Anne asked if anyone wanted to see it. Thank God for inventing the multi-plex.
I sat next to Anne through the movie and I even watched a little. I think I was too shy to even try and hold a hand – so I just stared at her. I’m sure this was annoying but just maybe slightly endearing. Looking back, I should have just tried to hold her hand or even give her a kiss. But that came about a month later – and 15 years later – I’m glad to be married to the raven haired beauty with whom I first watched Cinema Paradiso.
I’ve got 12 months of spending categorized in excruciating detail. I haven’t really done much work on understanding the income or investment side of this goal.
2005 has been a pretty atypical year for spending (I think). Our family made it through a 1 yr remodel of an old home and moved into a house that is more than twice the size of our old house. Together that added up to a batch of spending on architect fees and home furnishings. This is also the first year we’ve had regular childcare. To me the other standout numbers were charity (suspiciously large, I think there may be an error) and both vacation & books (pathetically low). I don’t track my taxes in this list (as I’m mostly interested interested in discretionary spending, and I’m not bold enough to treat paying the man as discretionary).
I’d love to hear any insights into how this looks to you. Tracking your spending is boring, but comparing with others is interesting, especially if there is a way to get my desires more inline with my actions. I’d also love to figure out other sharable metrics for people who want to make progress on this goal. It seems like there must be a good one like debt/income, maybe rate of return on investments, and I remember from reading Your money or your life an interesting metric that shows when you’ve reduced your expenses to a level where your savings income can cover them and you are financially “free”.
Anyway, here is my spending breakdown for 2005:
3.8% Gifts given
2.5% Gas & Electric
2.3% Home Repair
2.0% Cleaning Service
1.9% Personal Care
0.9% Garbage, Water, Sewer
9.8% various minor categories below 0.5%