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I bloviated recently about how to properly set goals, and a few people raised some questions—some might even say objections—to what I wrote.

So I went to dinner at Raincity Grill in Vancouver, just off English Bay, and thought it over some, and here’s a little more on the topic of goal setting and delicious desserts.

There are some things in life that you might want to aim for, that aren’t goals.  They include things like:
* being more direct
* living a modest life
* choosing to have faith
* being honest and trustworthy, kind and cheerful, considerate and clean and wise in the use of all resources (footnote)

These are good principles by which to live one’s life.  They can also be good rules by which to judge one’s actions.  But they aren’t goals.

There’s also the goal of being happy.  This one is particularly interesting as a goal.  It’s one of three inalienable rights listed in the Declaration of Independence: “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

I would argue that all goals you can set for yourself, are goals in the service of those three rights. You might exercise more in order to live longer (life).  You might work hard in order to have choices open to you in the future (liberty).  And ultimately, everything you is likely driven by the desire for happiness: even goals that seem to sacrifice personal happiness at the moment, are usually chosen for their future happiness potential, or to avoid the unhappiness that comes from shirking those goals.

Side note here: Thomas Jefferson himself didn’t define what pursuit of happiness meant.  Some say it refers to the right to property, others believe it’s simply to the right to pursue one’s chosen vocation, as opposed to the promise of emotional fulfillment or even enlightenment.

Whatever it is, it’s a pretty amazing departure from the orthodoxy of the Church of England and the Catholic church, who basically taught that suffering was our lot in this life, and our reward was to die and have a really wonderful time in the afterlife.

The other interesting thing about setting goals, is that the act of setting goals itself, even if you don’t explicitly try to complete them, gives your life a little more meaning, and helps you see the patterns and opportunities as you go through life.  It’s like looking at a map before you start wandering around a new town—you might not go everywhere you planned, but you have a better sense of where you’re going on your wander.

And, depending on the goals you set, you can end up completing them totally by accident.  As a recent example, I did a list just before this post about the 100 things you should eat in your life, according to a guy named Andrew.

Before I did that post, I’d already planned to have dinner at Raincity Grill with Steve and Nan, who wanted to take Susie and I on a double date because Susie bought some wonderful shoes.  “Pluck-y shoes,” I think she called them.

So we went, and looking at the menu, one thing jumped out at me: the Rib Eye Steak.  So I ordered it, and when it came, it happened to be accompanied by a small side of oxtail, and a heirloom tomato, two of the items on the list I hadn’t eaten.  Even without trying, I suddenly had become a Goal Accomplisher.

When the dessert menu came, I saw there was fruit wine—Apricot, Elephant Island 2004—and Nan ordered a glass and it was delicious!  In fact, I’d had fruit wine before, though it was a blackberry port and not a true wine, so this made me feel better about having checked it off my list.

Then this weekend, while waiting for a ferry on Galiano Island, the little snack stand was selling currywurst, which was #64 on the list (and again, I’d already eaten one).  But the point is, all around you are chances to accomplish goals, and all you have to do is take the time to think about them, set them, and then pay attention as you do the things you’re going to do anyway.

How was Raincity Grill? It was one of the more fabulous meals I’ve had.  Absolutely delicious food, and the service was as smart as it was quick.

I enjoyed a nice Hendrick’s gin and tonic, before my seared Bayne Sound scallops appetizer.  If anything, my appie was too big, coming with shiitake mushrooms, a spinach base and a dollop of such smooth, creamy pat?, bigger than the scoops of mousse we had for dessert, that I couldn’t finish it.  Susie and Stone each had the oysters, which I can’t judge, but they said were exquisite.

Nan had the tomato soup-y something.  I paid it no attention.

My dinner was that lovely combination of flavours that makes you want to cut a morsel of everything on your plate and combine it into one bite of symphonic taste, the rich woody flavor of the meat combining with caramelized onion pur?e and the port reduction and the whipped potato that was as light and puffy as marshmallow fluff.

But what was really interesting was contrasting this medley of echoing elements with the tuna loin that Nan ordered.  It came with a green pea risotto and onion thyme broth that blew my mind.  You took a bite of it and you could taste just three things: Carrot. Pea. Tuna.  Each one was like an individual shot glass of the best, cleanest, crispest Tuna, Pea, Carrot that you could find.  It’s hard to explain exactly, but there was no muddiness, no merging of vegetable with fish, no question of “what is that subtle undertone?”

It was truly one of the most simple tasting dishes I’ve had in a long time, and I’m sure it was as tricky to prepare as can be imagined.  (The orange streak is carrots. And yes, there were other flavours in it, and other ingredients.  Pay them no mind.)

Susie’s muscovy dusk and black lentils were well done and presented impeccably, but very rich and a little al dente for my preference.  She didn’t leave any behind for me to dwell on, though.  And Stone ordered the pork loin special, which was perfect for the cold rainy evening we were having.

Dessert was, quite frankly, unnecessary, given how generous the portions were of everything else.  So we only ordered three instead of four.  The ‘fireweed’ honey custard was disappointing.  It was too hard to break the cookie tube containing the custard without crushing the lovely airy froth they’d obviously worked so hard to fill it with.  And the blueberries were very fresh, but a little mushy, and (I know this sounds crazy, but) were too sweet to be paired with the white chocolate yogurt dollop.  I think blueberries that were a little less fresh might actually have been the better choice.

The cheese plate was amazing, my favorite being the goat cheese with the balsamic reduction, and the other ones being already forgotten because the goat cheese was sooo good.  Stilton, I think.  Whatever.

The pain perdu, though, was one of those desserts that you can’t remember the taste of, a defensive mechanism of the mind that keeps you from over-salivating just at the memory of it.  Cake, glazed with sugar and studded with apple.  Chocolate mousse, served in a tiny scoop.

And the best part, Cherries, pitted, coated with a hot caramelized sugar that cools and hardens and sticks the cherries to the plate so hard that you consider picking up the plate after the main cake is eaten and gnawing off the remaining sugar.  Then you realize that you really, really want to be able to return to the restaurant, so you just sigh forlornly and promise yourself to bring a large enough bag next time to be able to smuggle the plate out of the restaurant.

And you walk out into the rain, full and happy.



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The Omnivore’s Hundred

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Having a Vacation in Colorado


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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