Tag Archives: habits

My Bologna Has a First Name

Being a creature of habit in these times has its advantages. Daily routines, regardless of how tedious they are, provide a measure of comfort amidst all of the uncertainty. Take lunch, for instance. One of my all-time favorite lunches is peanut butter and jelly. But after a few weeks of that for lunch, I needed a change. Kelly was making a run to the store so I asked her to pick up some turkey, cheese, and bologna. She raised an eyebrow at the latter, but she brought it home. And for the last several weeks, I have been enjoying a turkey, bologna and cheese sandwich for lunch everyday.

I have the construction procedure down a few simple steps. While making the sandwiches (I often have two), I found myself singing the Oscar Mayer song that I remember from when I was a little kid. I remember the song perfectly, although I forgot what the commercial was like–with the little kid singing as he fishes and eats his lunch.

My kids found it amusing that I’d sing this strange song while making my lunch. The girls, in particular, were intrigued by the song, and each time I set about making my sandwich, they’d ask me to sing the bologna song. They would then try to reproduce it, with mixed results. Over the weekend, however, I had apparently passed some threshold, having made something on the order of 50 of these sandwiches over the last 3 weeks or so. (I will admit to occasionally crawling out of bed in the middle of the night, feeling hungry, and unable to resist making a sandwich.) I started to sing, “My bologna has a first name…” at which point the girls took over the singing, and completed the entire tune perfectly, including the spelling of b-o-l-o-g-n-a at the end.

A typical lunch

This impressed me, but something else occurred to me that impressed me even more. The commercial with “The Bologna Song” first appeared in the 1970s. The song was created by Jerry Ringlien, who died in 2007. It seemed remarkable to me that my kids would be singing a song from a commercial that aired more than 40 years ago. I wonder what Jerry Ringlien would think of that?

During an extended family video chat over the weekend, I mentioned by turkey and bologna sandwiches and was bologna-shamed. Apparently, bologna isn’t particularly good for you. It tastes like a hot dog to me. I imagine it is not the healthiest meat out there, but I also know that I’ll grow tired of it soon enough and switch back to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. For now, at time when the world is under quarantine, and we can’t visit family and friends in person, the smallest pleasures help to boost morale. And that small pleasure for me? It has a first name, and it’s O-S-C-A-R…


Eventually, I’ll get there.

I’m ready to start writing again. I’m bogged down in The Count of Monte Cristo but haven’t quite given up yet. I am not yet back at the gym regularly. My once good eating habits have mostly dwindled away. I haven’t ridden my bike into work yet.

I could say that I have an excuse for all of these things, but that’s just rationalization and laziness. What I need is to bring order back to some of the chaos. I’m not quite sure how to go about that, but the first step has to be to stop talking about it and start doing it. The writer’s workshop starts on Monday and that should help jump start the writing (I hope). I tried setting The Count of Monte Cristo aside for a while and instead read Charlie Stross’ new book, Saturn’s Children. We’ll see. I did get some exercise yesterday afternoon, bike-riding, but not yet back at the gym. We’ve got the fitness center at the new place which should help to take laziness out of the picture. As for eating, I just have to make sacrifices and do it.

Some amount of order is what I need. It’s what always works for me. The move has thrown things out of whack but we’re finally settling down (although there’s still lots of wedding stuff to do). But I’ll get there, eventually.


For the first time that I can remember (at least in the last give years) I came into work this morning without my backpack. I’m going to the Mets/Nationals game after work and didn’t want to lug a backpack to the stadium. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it makes the morning feel much different. I think it has a lot to do with muscle memory. When changing trains, for instance, I walked off the train feeling as though I was forgetting something. When walking up the escalator, something just didn’t feel quite right about the way I moved. It also meant that I didn’t bring a book with me to the office, which is an equally rare occasion. I passed the time on the train watching an episode of The Office on my iPhone.

I spent about 20 minutes this morning trying to book a room at the Westin Waterfront in Boston for President’s Day weekend 2008–where I will be attending Boskone 45–but for some reason, there are “temporary errors” on the Starwood website and I’m not able to book anything. (Hey, vickyandnorm, can you do something about that!) Once the site is back up and running, I’ll book my room.

I wore shorts to work today (another fairly unusual event) because I wasn’t going to bring a change of clothes with me (no backpack) and it’s going to be hot at the ballgame this evening.

Getting my act together

What with Sunday being the first day of a new week, it’s as good a time as any to try and get my act together. I barely made it to the gym last week, which is not a good sign. Good habits like that are hard to form and easy to break. It takes an extra effort to stick with them and with 50 days to go before the cruise, I’m moving into the final stretch and really need to stick with it. I need to get back on my schedule of getting up at 4:25 AM, and getting to the gym before 6 AM and I need to stick with it.

I haven’t touch the Italian lessons in more than a month now, and again, with 50 days before vacation, I don’t have a lot of time to waste. I’m going to aim for two lessons per day between now and then and cram as much Italian into my system as I can.

I’ve done very little writing. I’ve been disjointed and confused, not sure whether to work on the expansion of “Graveyard Shift” or to work on something shorter. The shorter things are just not working out for me write now, so I’m sticking with the expansion. But that means I’ve got to stick with it. I’ve made myself a goal for this, but I’ve been doing nothing to achieve the goal. That changes today as well.

What it all amounts to is that I’ve grown lazy. I could blame it on the fact that I am busy and I have a lot of balls up in the air at once, but the truth of the matter, when you get down to it, is that I’m just plain lazy and need to get my act together. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things beginning today.

Sleeping through the night

I’ve been attempting an experiment this weekend to see if I can better sleep through the night, instead of waking up two or three times in the middle of the night as I usually do. For some reason, it occurred to me that I always seem to have to know what time it is when I wake up, and that if I didn’t worry about the time until I had to get up (or my alarm went off), that I might sleep through the night better.

So last night, and Saturday night, I covered up the green, glowing numerals of my alarm clock so that I couldn’t see them. I went to sleep each night telling myself not to worry about what time it was; that my internal body clock is a good one. Friday night, I slept through the night without worrying about the time, and slept very well, I might add. Last night I woke up once, but fell back to sleep almost instantly and, again, didn’t worry much about the time. It will be interesting to see how it works tonight.

Get to bed!

Each night, for the last three nights, I have insisted to myself that I will be in bed at 8:30 PM, which is when I have to go to bed on a school night if I want to be able to get up at 4:20 AM to hit the gym in the morning. I got to bed late last night and when I woke up this morning, I insisted, nay, demanded that I would be in bed by 8:30 PM.

It’s now 9:50 PM.

Rumors of my extraordinary discipline have been greatly exaggerated.

Songs in your head

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for months and keep forgetting, but I remembered this morning and so here it is. Every morning, I wake up with a song in my head. I don’t know how it gets there, but there it is. I usually don’t notice it until I’m driving to the train station because I find myself humming it in the car as I drive. I find this very interesting, and I thought from time to time, I’d mention the song that I found myself singing in the morning.

This morning it was Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

The thing is, it’s not just some mornings. This happens to me every morning. Am I the only one? Are there others out there afflicted by this pernicious disorder?

Writing habits

A recent post by shunn got me thinking about my own writing habits and I thought I would discuss them here along with some of the problems I come across in trying to form these habits.

Let me start out by saying that for the first time in my life, I have four stories underway at once. In case you are wondering, the working titles are (in chronological order):

  • “If By Reason Of Strength”
  • “Stairway to Heaven”
  • “The Time Machine”
  • “4005 B.C.”

The last story in the list is likely the first one to be finished. I started it tonight based off an idea I got from a sentence within Isaac Asimov’s short story “Ideas Die Hard” and I wrote about 500 words this afternoon. I don’t expect the story to be much longer then 1,500 words total.

Read about my writing habits

Food for thought

I think the fact that I have been eating smaller meals, regularly every 3 hours for the last 11 days is beginning to have an effect on me. I say this because something unusual has started to happen to me that has never happened to me before. Up until now, when I am not hungry, when I have, say, just consumed a meal, the last thing I can think about is what I want for my next meal. Unlike jkashlock who thinks about what his next meal will be while eating his present meal, the very thought of doing this gives me chills.

But today, I’ve noticed that as I eat a meal, I am eagerly looking forward to the next one. For instance, as I was finishing up my lunch (PB&J, and some orange slices for “dessert”) I was thinking about the turkey and cheese sandwich that awaited me for my afternoon snack. Having finished my afternoon snack about an hour ago, I am eagerly awaiting my dinner this evening. (I’ve even been thinking about–GASP!–how I might improve my breakfast tomorrow morning!)

One good thing about 5 smaller meals each day is that I am never hungry. It’s only a few hours to the next meal and come meal time, I feel neither starved nor stuffed. However, when I go past that three hours, I’ve started to notice that I get hungry pretty quickly. Normally I eat dinner at 6 PM; last night, because of the Comcast delivery, I had to wait until nearly 7:30 to eat and I was hungry by that point.

And now all of this talk of food has made me hungry…

Variations on a routine

The new routine I have during the week went pretty well for the most part. I had to make some adjustments, but I think I did pretty good overall. Since my schedule is different on Saturdays, I’ve discovered I have to be a little more flexible and be able to adjust and improvise when necessary. This morning is a case in point:

I woke up about 7:30, had my breakfast, and then spent half an hour or so preparing some stuff that I had to mail out today. One of the items included my science fiction poem, “Schrodinger’s Intersection”, which is now on its way to ASIMOV’S. I took these items to the post office around 9 AM, and then headed over to the gym in Greenbelt for my upper body (arms and shoulders) workout. I finished that workout around 10:30, and then headed over to the haircut place, which is in the same shopping center as the gym, in order to get a hair cut. Miraculously (for a Saturday morning), they were able to take me right away, without my having to wait.

Once my hair cut was done, it was close to 11 AM. Now, given that I ate breakfast at about 8 AM, my morning snack was due at about 11 AM. During the week, I pack my morning and afternoon snacks with my lunch, but here I was out running errands. Next on my list was to get my emissions test done on my car, so I ran into Subway and got a turkey and cheese deli sandwich and some water, and then headed off to the emissions inspection center. While waiting in line there, I ate my morning snack. It took half an hour to get my paperwork indicating that my car had passed its inspection and after that I headed home.

Where I am now.

The rest of my day will be a little off as far as meals go. Lunch at around 2 PM, afternoon snack at around 5 PM, dinner at around 8 PM. But the good news is that I’m sticking to the plan and it feels pretty good. (The workout went well this morning too, but more on that in a separate post.)

Now I’m off for a badly needed shower.

Getting my act together

Today is the first day of my new plan for getting my act together that I mentioned earlier. I’ve been slacking off at the gym and at my meals. I’ve been very lazy and haven’t been doing much writing. This plan attempts to address all of these issues with two goals:

1. Be in the best physical condition of your life by July 1, 2007. Why July 1? Well, that is the day that I begin my month-long vacation, much of which will be in Europe. It’s a little less than seven months off and I think I can make a lot of progress in 7 months. What does “best physical condition” mean? This is a little bit harder to describe, but I’ll know it when I feel it. I’m not talking about just cardio, I’m going to tone up a bit, add some muscle mass, eat right, and overall be in great condition.

2. Write every day of the work week. This was a goal last year, although I didn’t formulate it as clearly, which sometimes helps. The idea here is that I’ll spend at least 1 hour Monday through Friday doing some writing.

Read about how I’m doing this


I am approaching the low point of laziness in recent memory, and I am hopeful that I will reach the nadir this weekend and somehow turn it around. First, there is my gym truancy, which has taken physical manifestation in the gaining of a couple of kilograms of mass around the middle of yours truly. Second, there is the fact that my eating habits have more or less devolved back to what they used to be. Third is the fact that I am not very productive. I come home from work and watch TV. Even my reading has almost crept to a halt. I am told that this is not uncommon around Thanksgiving, but it is uncommon for me. I’m usually good with habits. I stopped drinking caffeine cold turkey on February 14, 2004 never to return. I stopped biting my nails cold turkey on August 21, 2001 also never to return. I mention dates to show you that I’m serious about my habits. But this eating and workout habit is a tough one. And this laziness has got to stop!

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be so open about it, which is one of the reasons think I am approaching the nadir. I keep telling myself, tomorrow, you’ll get back on track. And of course, tomorrow rolls around and the cycle repeats. The toughest part of any habit is breaking the old cycle. Well, I’m not saying that I’m turning it around tomorrow, and tossing off this mossy laziness, but I soon… very soon.

After nearly 48 hours without a problem, the DirecTV signal issue reared its head this evening. That pretty much rules out the satellite box, and diagnostically, any new information is good. I’ve got the service call on Friday. It occurred to me that it’s going to be a real hassle if they have to re-cable because the cable runs behind my book shelves and I’d have to take my whole office apart for the service people to get to it. If that ends up being the case, I may send them home, cancel DirecTV and order up Comcast (yet another sign of laziness?)