It’s baaaaack!

I’ve been noticing a lot of my friends going on FB fasts (or at least announcing that they’re going to). I think more and more we are beginning to realize the insidious addictive and unfulfilling nature or routinely checking and updating statuses. Now that I’ve cut out sugar, my sources of serotonin bumps are perilously few, FB being one of the fewn remaining addictions (don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll find more).

I’ve tried to imagine reducing my FB usage, and it has become such a large part of my daily routine that my mind boggles at the prospect. Eliminating it altogether seems to be well nigh impossible. I don’t need to elaborate on its positive qualities; if you’re reading this, you most likely found it through FB and know how entertaining it can be. But addictions are scary things, regardless of the addictive substance, and so I am plotting a very, very gradual reduction in usage.

Thus this blog. Right now, there’s not much around, just a few half hearted posts from when I tried the same thing last November, but, hopefully, it will not only serve as a methadone for my FB addiction, but gradually improve and extend my writing — and serve as a organized library online library (one of the worst aspects of FB is how hard it is to find old posts).

Anyway, that’s my brief manifesto. Stay tuned :)

Tomorrow’s cooking project

One of my favorite discoveries while in Mallorca for the last two summers was their garlic-y aoli. I’ve been wanting to try to make it ever since. This afternoon, I heard this recipe on The Splendid Table. Hopefully, it will be similar.

Requirement: Must love garlic.

This is one of the more versatile condiments to have on hand. It can outlast the sprouting fresh garlic in your pantry and is at the ready for marinades, dips and sauces and as a spread for any savory sandwich. Its flavor will mellow only slightly over several weeks.

If you have access to a high-powered, commercial-grade food processor, the paste will turn out even fluffier and lighter than if you use a standard food processor.

Make Ahead: The garlic paste can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Ingredients

Scant 2 cups peeled garlic cloves (from about 7 heads)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups soybean or canola oil, or more as needed
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 or 2 lemons)
1/3 cup water
Directions

Combine the garlic cloves and salt in a food processor. Puree until as smooth as possible, stopping to scrape down the sides of the work bowl as needed.

With the motor running (for the next 4 steps), gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the oil in the thinnest possible stream; do not rush the process or the mixture will separate. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

Gradually add 1/2 cup more of the oil in the same manner; the mixture should begin to set up a bit, with the consistency of creamy cooked grits.

Gradually add the lemon juice. The mixture will become lighter and whiter.

Add 1/2 cup more of the oil in the same gradual fashion as before, then slowly add the water. The mixture will loosen but should not be runny.

Gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup of oil. The resulting garlic paste should be creamy white and fluffy, like beaten egg whites. If not, keep the motor running and add more oil to achieve the right color and consistency.

Transfer to a container with a tight-fitting lid; seal and refrigerate for a few hours before using, and up to 3 weeks
Reprinted with permission from The Washington Post. Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick. From Joseph Chemali, chef-owner of Shemali’s Cafe and Market in Northwest Washington.
Categories: Dressings/Sauces
Tags: garliccanola oillemon juice
Yield: 4 cups

A fragment:

I have always tread the borderlands;
swum the sea close to the shore,
too shallow for sharks,
but their thoughts lay by.
Somehow, the sun shines brightest
in the sandy strip between this land
and the next.
I read best by twilight’s dusk;

February 5th

Thick cotton blanket
pulled away but more falls.
Citta vrtti.

Jan 26

Pine tree silhouette
shines in wintery white dawn;
cold light warms the sky.

My New Hero, a Modern Day Stoic

 

My Mother-in-Law had clipped this article from Vanity Fair for me to read. It’s about a quant programmer who works for Goldman Sachs. He got arrested and sentenced to eight years in jail for doing nothing wrong. Basically, he was the victim of being smarter than everyone else. I got sucked into the article because I have a close friend who does this kind of work for another company. Michael Lewis’ writing never fails to interest me and, even though I hadn’t noticed it was him writing until I went to look for the online link, this article was no exception. Most of the article was about HFT, the intricacies of programming, and the story of this apparent miscarriage of just. But this final paragraph in the story is what really knocked me back on my heels:

“If the incarceration experience doesn’t break your spirit, it changes you in a way that you lose many fears. You begin to realize that your life is not ruled by your ego and ambition and that it can end any day at any time. So why worry? You learn that, just like on the street, there is life in prison, and random people get there based on the jeopardy of the system. The prisons are filled with people who crossed the law, as well as by those who were incidentally and circumstantially picked and crushed by somebody else’s agenda. On the other hand, as a vivid benefit, you become very much independent of material property and learn to appreciate very simple pleasures in life such as the sunlight and morning breeze.”

i.0.goldman-programmerOne of the primary issues in my life so far has been the fear of being the victim of the machine. The power is always in someone else’s hand, and there really is no way to win the game, because it is rigged from the get-go. This programmer, who grew up in the ultimate rigged game of communist Russia, had to get sent to jail to learn his lesson, but, like Epictetus, he has learned that suffering comes from trying to control what you cannot control. Let it go, and focus on what is within our power and happiness is within our grasp.

Where Creativity Goes to Die

The first place is school, according to an article in Slate:

Studies show that teachers overwhelmingly discriminate against creative students, favoring their satisfier classmates who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

I’ve long argued that schools reward conformity much more than independent thinking, which hasn’t made me very popular with most of my teacher friends (and colleagues).

This is my daughter being creative - which I, being a teacher, completely disapproved of.

This is my daughter being creative – which I, being a teacher, completely disapproved of.