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Oatmeal and birthdays

12/06/2011 @ 7:13am

I just had a birthday.

Number 57 in case you're interested.

It made me think about oatmeal and the value of time.

Let me explain. My youngest grandchild is only eight months old. That means that if I'm going to have the pleasure of disapproving of her boyfriends, I'm probably going to have to live well into my seventies.

This may involve some alterations in lifestyle. I don't have a lot of bad habits. While some of my friends were busy cultivating several of the really good vices, I was too busy trying to make a living. I do have some chainsaw/power tool issues, but I'm not sure there's anything to be done about that – after all, I am a guy. Plus, I don't think of those episodes so much as life threatening as story enhancing. It would be good to cut down on my stress level, but we have a presidential election coming up and I'm still a Vikings fan, so I'm not seeing that happening.

About the only thing under my control is what I eat and that only partially. My wife is usually in charge of supper menus, which generally involve green stuff and some sort of low-grease meat. At noon I eat pretty much whatever I can prepare in five minutes or less. That leaves breakfast as the only real chance I have at extending my longevity. Now, my preference would be French toast and bacon every morning, with an occasional Italian sausage omelet and the like thrown in for variety. The problem is that my gallbladder, arteries and waistline don't look kindly on that plan. Lately I've been having some sort of Sugar Toasties in a bowl along with a glass of orange juice. Research has shown me that Sugar Toasties aren't actually all that good for me, that I should be eating real fruit instead of juice, and eating oatmeal - preferably steel cut oatmeal (which just means oats chopped into chunks instead of flattened and poofed). That's where my problem starts. I can prepare microwave oatmeal and orange juice in under two minutes. Put the oatmeal in for a minute and a half, pour the orange juice, and spend thirty seconds wiping up the boiled over oatmeal in the microwave.

Now, steel cut oatmeal takes a half hour to cook and you need to pay attention – it requires actual stirring. Plus, fruit needs to be peeled, so unless I move to a totally tangerine-based diet, there goes another couple minutes. That adds up to thirty-two minutes a day just preparing breakfast in an effort to live longer.

But, that thirty-two minutes a day means that over the course of a year I spend over 194 hours not actually living. That's over a week, down the tubes, every year. So, if I implement this oatmeal/fruit plan and live to be 80, I will have spent nearly half a year stirring oatmeal. That's a long time. A round-the-world cruise on the Queen Elizabeth II takes only three months.

So, it seems to me that I have a choice between going on a round-the-world cruise with an extended stay in New Zealand visiting friends and hobbits, or spending six months stirring oatmeal and peeling oranges while wearing baggy plaid pajamas.

And if I wait until I'm 79 and a half before I leave, I could eat French toast and bacon the whole way.

Copyright 2011 Brent Olson

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