Defeating the Onions of Doom: The Nerd Fitness Pantry

How many times has this happened to you? Your neighbor, that attractive person you’ve been desperately wanting to meet for months, comes to the door and asks to borrow a couple of oranges. You think, “Shazam! It’s my lucky day.” Immediately agreeing to help, you dash to the refrigerator to retrieve said oranges only to find your refrigerator stocked entirely with onions.

Martin Short and Tina TurnerMany years ago, back when Saturday Night Live was funny, Martin Short did one of his Ed Grimley sketches in which Tina Turner showed up at Ed’s door asking for oranges. If you didn’t sleep through that first paragraph, you can guess what Ed found in his fridge.

Sometimes that’s how I feel when I go to the kitchen in search of food. In my case, my frustration usually arises when my food-snarfing son has gone all conehead on me and consumed mass quantities of whatever I had counted on finding, but the lack of healthy, edible food is a significant obstacle to successful eating.

That’s why I was so pleased that the guys at Nerd Fitness determined to take the common sense approach of describing the Nerd Fitness Pantry. The idea here is to have a flexible selection of ingredients that will keep you from finding your refrigerator full of onions when hunger strikes. In normal Nerd Fitness style, the piece is presented using a video game comparison.

Each item you’ll be gathering on your grocery store mission is like a tool used during questing for one or more purposes. Think of coconut oil like the hook shot in Ocarina of Time: it’s going to take some effort (and real-life rupees) to obtain, but after you have it, you’ll be using it all the time.

Others items are like potions, great to keep around in case of emergency (like if you didn’t have time to cook before work).

This longish entry on the NF blog goes into a lot of detail on both what you ought to buy but why you ought to buy it. It prioritizes things and takes the incredibly commonsense approach of pointing out that you can vary the list to suit your own needs and wants. They even provide a handy chart.

Penny and I have been working on stocking our kitchen in just such a manner, although with different details. What we’ve found is that by having the raw materials on hand, we’re able to eat healthier and waste less while we resist the temptation to throw up our hands in frustration and order a pizza. This sort of planning just seems like good stewardship all around.


Biking It

A couple of days ago, I rode my bike to the grocery store. The trip wound up logging 4 miles due to the fact that I got to the bottom of our street and realized I had left my helmet sitting in the garage. In reality, the store in question is 1.8 miles away.

Besides the stupid inefficiency of getting down the hill before missing my helmet, I wasted a good bit of time on this jaunt trying to keep the new bag that Penny bought me from jamming up in the spokes. I also managed to get stopped by a train. On a good day, when my gear is properly on my head and attached to the bike, I should be able to make the round trip in about 18 minutes. That’s moving at a fairly modest 12 miles an hour. If I were particularly earnest about things, I could probably manage an average of 15, but let’s be conservative.

Driving the same route, I can go as fast as 35 for the bulk of the way. That’s nearly three times as fast. On the other hand, stoplights take the same length of time for bikes and cars. Plus, I can’t drive 35 on my street without incurring the wrath of my neighbors, and there’s all that time you spend walking from your car into the store. (Yeah, I really said that.)

Is there a point to all of this? Yes, there is. When I bike at 12-14 mph, I burn something like 57 calories per mile or 205 calories for the round trip. What do I lose by riding to the store? I lose perhaps 15 minutes of my time, maybe 20. What do I gain? For starters, I gain the $2.07 that the IRS would allow me to deduct for mileage. I know that I won’t actually see that $2.07 in my wallet, but the expenses add up. I also gain a decent little workout, the equivalent of running about a mile or a bit more. Is that a fair trade-off?

Granted, I’m not going to be doing my major shopping trip on my bike, but much more often I head to the store to pick up a few apples, a bottle of BBQ sauce, or some other smallish item. But if I were to make this run one time a week for a year, I’d save some $100 and add 50 miles worth of workouts to my year. That 10,000 calories amounts to about 3 pounds lost for the year.

I like that trade-off. It seems like good stewardship all around.

Everyone Isn’t Looking–Mark 1:36-37

Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Visit one of the busy shopping districts around town during the holidays, especially if you do it on a weekend, and you’ll feel like saying, “Everybody in town is trying to get to these stores.” If I were a burglar in such a jam, I’d be tempted to go to work, since apparently nobody would be found at home. Of course the reality is that even when cars so jam the area that the stoplights seem to create parking lots and the parking lots seem not nearly large enough, not everyone is shopping right there, right then.

On the morning in question in these verses, Simon Peter had to know that not everyone was looking for Jesus. Of course, this was Peter, who blurted out some of the silliest and best things that a person could manage during his normal day, but still, he had to see his words as exaggeration.

When I was a child, I had a book of Bible stories that I enjoyed. In one of those, before the story of Jesus’ birth, it described him as “The Baby Everyone Wanted.” I had an image of thousands of potential Marys sitting around and pining to be the mother of the Messiah. In reality, of course, most Jewish women of that day did not consider the possibility of giving birth to the Messiah. Most of the people in that land weren’t actively looking for the Messiah at any given time. At any given time, they might be walking or fishing or farming or something, but not really on watch for the Messiah, whatever he might look like.

Today, on Christmas Eve, how many of the people in your family–believer or non-believer–are actively looking for Jesus? How many of those people at Best Buy or Kohl’s seek him? How many of the people who lined up in the pre-dawn hours on Black Friday for “doorbuster” deals would inconvenience themselves in the slightest to gain audience with the Prince of Peace.

This Christmas, as we celebrate the Incarnation, as we marvel at God taking human form, let us not for an instant forget that much of the world has yet to receive this word. Unless, like Simon and his companions, these people actively seek Jesus, they will depend on us to bring Jesus into their lives. This Christmas, let us start with our own homes and work outward from there.