Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One of my greatest lessons: making Tuna Salad on a commercial scale

When I was going through the very beginnings of a phase of "finding myself" in my late teens early twenties, a process that (now that I think of it) consisted mostly of losing myself, I was able to get a job at a salad and sandwich shop in Philadelphia.

I had never worked in a kitchen before, so this job was as at entry-level a level as possible. It wasn't a chain, but the owner had some ideas about expanding, so he had some good recipes and procedures for making the fool [edit] lol, typo, that should be "food" but I'll leave it in there, tarot reference.

 It was really very good food, healthy, and the best part is that you could get fed at a discount, which was good because I was sharing an apartment with three other people and money was very tight. There were also free sodas while we were working, which wasn't as good health-wise, but at least it was fuel. It was the first  job I had that supported me living away from home.

The owner, Mr. Stein,  was Jewish and maybe somewhat stereotypical in that regard: he wanted to avoid wasting food, so he would scold if you didn't slice a carrot down to the very end of the carrot, and wanted portions to be consistent. But this was all part of the business, and actually the basis for some very good values for me as I continued on the journey of finding./losing myself.

One of the first things I was assigned to do was to make a batch of tuna salad. This might seem trivial, but it involved a can of tuna fish larger than any I had ever seen before, about the size of a bowling ball, and a gallon tub of mayo, pounds of celery and onions. The owner assigned this to me personally, and warned me sternly if I wasted the can of tuna, it was expensive, and would come out of my paycheck, so I needed to follow the recipe. But he also gave me some guidelines, which I will always remember:

1) You want the salad firm, not runny, so you drain the tuna.
2) There are three ingredients that will most dictate the consistency of the salad: the mayo, the tuna, and breadcrumbs.
3) You drain the tuna, and then add the mayo *but don't add all the mayo the recipe calls for*. Add about half of it first. Then mix it in. Then add a little more of the mayo the recipe calls for, keep mixing, making sure the consistency is right. You can't take out the mayo if you overdo it! So this is important.
4) Then, you want the tuna salad to *stay* consistent. That is why you add the breadcrumbs, these will bind the salad, and also absorb moisture that later leaches out of the celery, onions and the tuna. Also, if it turns out you add a little too much mayo, you can add more breadcrumbs than the recipe calls for to compensate-- but not too many more, because that will make it seem like you are adding too much "filler" and detract from the tuna-ness of the salad.

I was genuinely afraid that I would ruin that salad, but I used his guidelines and my common sense, and it turned out ok. I had never made that much food for anyone before, it was enough for what seemed like 100s of scoops of tuna salad. He tasted and approved, it made me feel good.

So, he wanted you to follow the recipe strictly unless it wasn't best for the "spirit of the salad" to follow the recipe strictly.

On a sadder note, I betrayed his trust at one point-- I was in the walk-in fridge doing an inventory, and there was a case of strawberries. I had run out of money that weekend, spending frivilously mostly, and hadn't eaten for about a day. So I ate some of those strawberries, they were so good-- and the manager opened the door as I was in mid-bite.

She saw that I stopped it immediately and didn't say anything at the time so I finished the work day, but the assistant manager (who was a friend of mine) called me up later at home, said the manager had told the owner, and he was really mad, so the assistant manager said I should not return afterwards [edited from previous, I recall it a little more clearly].

But I will always remember the lesson of the tuna salad-- in any endeavor, ascertain which is the "meat", which is the "sauce" and which is the "binder". Don't add in too much of what you can't take out later on, but if you add a little too much, you can compensate a little with the opposite.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

so busy lately...

It seems like i've been running around like crazy for the past weeks, hardly being able to think. And now the weekend is almost here, not sure what will happen this weekend, haven't had time to think about it.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

P. Diddy "Coming Home" Tour

Everybody says a lot of things about rappers and hip hop artists and it is maybe odd that I should even comment, but I've been impressed with some of P. Diddy's songs and videos from time to time, impressed on a deep level, even. Yes, that is maybe banal, he's just another pop icon, more or less deriving artistically from other pop icons etc. etc... but I think he expresses things that men think, that *all* men think and feel in a very straightforward way./

I hope to be doing more music soon.

I like to play music outdoors, so I'm hoping to do that.

Now, I've got kind of a problem, how do I relate it:

There are things that I have to do, and things I love to do (like music) and things that a person *thinks* I have to do (not music) and when that person who *thinks* I have to do those things sees me *not* doing the things they want me to, they get very agitated. Like, threaten me and my belongings, throw my stuff on the floor, spit in my face and call me names and shatter my emotional well being agitated. The, uh, audience for these events is a younger audience, comprising two people who I love very much.

Most of the time, there is a "detente" and we can cooperate, but I want more time to do what I have to do and want to do, not doing what someone else thinks I should do. Meanwhile, there is a veneer of civility that is presented outwardly.

It sounds ... fantastical, I know. But it is true. It is a very difficult situation, extremely stressful. This blog is one of the few ways I can outlet. If you read this, thanks, it makes me nervous to post this here but I just have to outlet.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

As usual, so many things, but nothing new under the sun :-)

Reading the Emerald Tablets has brought a lot of things back to me, memories I cherish, because I was really an avid reader growing up. It led me to this site, which really fascinates me on several levels.  www.thegreatwhitelodge.org
There is lots of humor in the universe, and lots of wisdom, but also lots of sadness and despair, and lots of "nutty stuff" even in some of the most scholarly of pursuits, also "woo woo"/occult etc etc and so on and so forth.

Really, none of it is more or less than how it resonates with one. We can only be what we are.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Emerald Tablets of Thoth, #1, excerpt

I've been active, more like overactive, on Twitter recently, and ran into a talented "speed painter" Quinn Michaels.  His pallettes and his surrealistic slant really appeal to me, and seems like he should have thousands of followers on Twitter.

He had links to the Emerald Tablets of Thoth mentioned elsewhere in this blog, and I tweeted him that I'd like to do some spoken word/music using them. He immediately replied that would be awesome (!) and so I did, and he graciously put them under thisspeed painting video.

I've read various things about the source of these tablets, hoax/authenticity arguments, etc., but I think they are very very interesting. Here is the link to the soundtrack with the text I read.

The text is very thought provoking, in sort of odd ways. For example, I once heard portions of the confession of St. Patrick read on the radio, and it almost seems like this author is "confessing" for Thoth, testifying regarding his thirst and quest for undying knowledge. But at the same time, reading between the lines, it seems like accrual of knowledge isn't everything-- Thoth is a member of a pantheon, after all, not all encompassing.

On one hand, the power and invincibility of his science-magick is immense, and his accomplishments grand, but on the other there is a sense of a compassionless deity. He reaches an agreement with the "people of Khem", and aids them, teaches them, to his satisfaction and to their benefit. He also describes how the Atlanteans became corrupt, and so their immensly powerful science-magick worked to their downfall.

The mysterious "Dr. Maurice Doreal" who translated these tablets may well have done just that, or he may have constructed an elaborate literary world a'la Lovecraft. Personally, it doesn't matter to me, the writing and words are wonderful, and they fit together so well and powerfully.
Quinn's use of the Buddhist concept of "Maitreya" is an interesting comparison to Thoth, and very similar to parallels drawn by other theosophists, for example C.S. Lewis' comparison of the Corn King of pre-Columbian America to Jesus Christ.

These things always come down to a matter of faith. You think you can 'discard' the notion of a higher power through logic and science. And, logically, one can draw the conclusion that one confusing, tangled up set of eschatology is just as good as another and that these sets of myths are indeed 'the opiate of the masses' made up by desparate people to soothe themselves. However, equally logically you can conclude that there really is something to the "one-ness" and some kind of relationship with a higher power because so many different cultures from different times and places have these parallels.

I know the Egyptian gods were on the side of the "bad guys" in the Bible and largely thereafter, in terms of the ultimately ascendant cultures in the region, but I'm thinking that in the context of the Egyptian ethical framework Thoth was used as an archetype for teaching scribes their duty and giving them a sense of mission. There is not a sense of 'evil' or 'good', and no threat of his condemnation other than a very specific one, the purported deity of wisdom and record-keeping saying:  "Look, you, don't forget what I've taught you and noted here-- this learning was an immense undertaking for me and a tremendous labor of diligence and duty that went to your ultimate benefit". This certainly seems like a perfectly reasonable thing for the Egyptian "patron saint of scribes" and deity in charge of record keeping and learning to say, and identical to aspects of the Biblical God.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

A pseudo-history of Atlantis?

There is something I've read about the colonization of Ireland that is interesting. As usual, I won't cite anything accurately or scholarly-like, but I once read a book which I believe was called "The History of Ireland" which was in the library of Catholic University in Washington DC. My wife studied there, and from time to time I would have to go help her with this or that and I ended up wiling away some time at the library.

So what I remember of this book went something like this: Ireland for the longest time was uninhabited. There was once a settlement of Phoenicians or people similar to these. There was some manner of cataclysm that befell these people, which caused them to "fall to the ground, trembling, breaking their elbows" and suffer other ills, and they were annihilated, leaving the island once again uninhabited.

Then, later, there were the Gael, who came from Northern Spain. A more involved tale has the original Gael people emigrating from Egypt, where although well connected to the Pharaoh they had fallen into disfavor due to their sympathies with the Israelites. They left Egypt via the Mediterranean Sea, crossing it and heading up the Danube, which was at that time a more completely passable waterway that traversed the whole of Europe longitudinally. These exited out of the north of Europe, sailing around the edge of the coast until finally coming to rest on the Northern Iberian peninsula (Galicia). Further conflicts caused a portion of them to leave Galicia and sail north, where they encountered the island we call Ireland (Erin). Through a series of efforts, battles and alliances, most notably with the Picts, they established the kingdom of Dalriada, which spanned both Ireland, the Scottish Isles and mainland Scotland.

Now, more mysteriously, which is to say more blogworthily, it may well have been that the earliest civilization on Ireland was not Phoenician, but  Atlantean . The theory is that Ireland was the seat of the fabled Atlantean culture, and they suffered a calamity that led to their downfall. Moreover, the calamity was due to the Atlanteans turning away from "the Children of Light" and instead towards darkness.

There are in various places scattered writings referred to as "The Emerald Tablets of Thoth". There is an alchemical 'primer' that has several key phrases that are rumored to be the basis for all alchemical study and experimentation that is referred to by this name, and also a series of verses that \are purported to be Thoth's own words, describing his life and his effort to faithfully record the knowledge of Atlantis for future generations. These more elaborate tablets are said to have been translated by someone calling himself Dr. Doreal, whose origins are fairly normal but whose writing dealt with subjects ranging from Occult interpretations of Biblical scripture to the nature of UFOs. His critics soundly proclaim he fabricated the legacy of Thoth, having been influenced by books like Tarzan and later sci-fi/fantasy fiction.

Whether or not he "channeled" Thoth or created a fantasy theosophy, "Dr. Maurice Doreal's" Emerald Tablets of Thoth are wonderfully written in a lofty sort of Hermetic language, and are laden with appealing symbolic interconnections and allusions to ancient "science/magick" types of technology. It's very interesting stuff that splits off into various tangents "Children of the Light" vs. darker types, "Atlantean immortals" on one hand and "the little people of Khem" on the other. There are assertions of hidden chambers of wisdom and power beneath the Greaty Pyramids, as well as science/magick that allows people to travel astrally, be incarnate or not as is their will, and the notion of beings controlling aspects of the behavior of gravity, space and time.