Optimization Run Amuck: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

My grandmother was the queen of optimization. The person who, after successfully getting a group to agree on where to go for dinner, would, en route, suggest numerous other restaurants.

No decision was final. Good could be made better and better could be made best.

Unfortunately, good often became bad as the plan fell into disarray and, in the case of the restaurant, people got hungry waiting for a resolution.

Would my grandmother see a kindred spirit in Marie Kondo’s refusal to settle for anything less than belongings that “spark joy”? [caveat: I have not read Ms. Kondo’s book, nor have I seen her show. There may be nuances of which I am unaware.]

Take my oven. A white, super capacity, Magic Chef workhorse. It was here when we moved in almost 17 years ago. It didn’t look new then. While I’m scouring the internet and visiting appliance stores on a quest for the replacement that will spark joy, it’s showing signs of giving up the fight.

On Friday I popped in a few loaves to bake at 400°. At some point, unbeknownst to me, the oven reset to 450°. This isn’t the first time.

Is the search for the oven that sparks joy my version of tilting at windmills? My husband, wisely, has only ventured an opinion if explicitly asked.

toy lion
Adorable Pettigrew definitely sparks joy!

And where, you may understandably wonder, does Pettigrew fit into this? Never fear, Pettigrew sparks joy; there’s no risk of my replacing him!

However, I do find myself trying to optimize his diet.

canned dog food
Stinky canned dog food.

After longer than I care to remember of gastrointestinal distress and trips to the veterinarian, schlepping home first this and then that expensive, prescription dog food, we may, I say cautiously, have found a diet that works. And it doesn’t involve any cooking! Not even the instant pot .

I should be Delighted. Relieved, even, that the ordeal may be at an end. Happy Pettigrew is gaining the weight he lost.

dry dog food
Dry food I am tempted to try.

After some past disastrous experiments, one could imagine that I’d be cautious about tampering with success. You’d think…and I am…but…I find myself wanting to tweak it, just a little bit. The new regime is a tad odiferous. It could be better!

Am I channeling my grandmother’s inability to resist improving on a good decision?

Maybe, it’s best if you didn’t answer that.

2 thoughts on “Optimization Run Amuck: Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

  1. This is great news! I’ll offer an opinion. Don’t try to optimize! If he’s able to eat it, go with it! And good luck with the oven. An oven that resets the temperature, ruining what I am preparing, would push me over the edge.


  2. Yes, it’s easy to say to not try to optimize, but sometimes the urge is almost irresistible! Luckily, I am on to my oven’s wily ways and checked the temperature on the in-oven thermometer. I must’ve caught the 50 degree increase before it wrecked the food; however, it would be nice to be able to put more trust in my oven.


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