My dad's birthday is on Halloween. There are a bunch of Chinese traditions around birthdays, but my family regularly follows two: (1) wear red and (2) eat noodles. Long noodles for long life.

Problem #1: I just got back from a trip and need to do laundry. All my red shirts are in the "should be washed" pile.

Problem #2: One of my reading groups is in the middle of a 2-week gluten-free challenge. Most noodles... have gluten. My larder... has rice.

Problem #3: By the time I realized #1 and #2, all the restaurants that might serve gluten-free noodles -- pad thai or something of the sort -- had closed.

And this is how I ended up running to the 24-hour Kroger's down the street and consuming microwaved "pre-cooked rice noodles and sauce with vegetables and topping" from an instant-meal box while wearing (most of) my Halloween costume. Carmen Sandiego wishes you a happy birthday, Dad!