THE DINING HALL

“Good afternoon,” a friendly deep voice called to me from down the hallway. The man was a large, aging figure, dressed as a stereotypical butler would be dressed. He even had the covered silver platter balanced carefully in his right hand, which stayed unnervingly still has he sauntered over to me.

“H-hello,” I said back. The butler smiled politely, but I could feel the nervousness in my voice. I had somehow found my way into the house, but could not for the life of me remember how. Actually, calling this place a house was a bit of an understatement. It was more like a mansion from a snobby magazine. The carpets were red with gold, the walls were satin, every painting looked like it had been there since it was originally painted several hundred years ago, and all their frames had the same, faded gold shine to them. There were candles lit down several corridors, and a glimpse of massive rooms could be seen peeking out behind half closed mahogany doors.

Yet the place itself was spotless. There was no hint of dust; no stains, no cracks, no breaks; no unevenness. Everything looked perfect, as though every evening someone went up to make sure everything was in order. Which must take hours, based on the relative size of the place.

I realized my eyes had been wandering for a few moments too long when the butler cleared his throat.

“Sir, I must ask that we make our way to the dining table. The master has been expecting you for a short while now.” He began to turn away to show me the way.

“Expecting…how did I get here?” The butler paused, then turned back to me with a carefully practice patience.

“Sir, please, everything will be explained in due time.” I opened my mouth to respond, but before I could get a word out he had turned his back to me and began walking down the hallway. I fell in step a few feet behind him, my eye fixated on the patterns woven into the fabric. So simple, yet so precisely elegant. We turned a few corners, then passed through one of the large doors to an enormous room. There was a large, fifty foot table in the center, no doubt regularly filled with parties, as there were nearly one hundred placemats set out. Though interestingly, only two chair.

The chair closest to me, which the butler had indicated I should sit at, was a simple wooden chair. It seemed too homely compared to the rest of the house. Almost like they had robbed some poor family of their best chair in the middle of the night. Seated on the other end of the table was a large, black chair, made what looked to be a fine leather material (though from that distance I was not entirely sure). The chair towered over the man inside, who was shadowed mysteriously so that I could not get a clear view of his face. His hair appeared to be short, possibly even blonde, and he held himself like a man used to wielding power.

After I had taken my seat, the butler walked down to speak to who I assumed was the master. He was speaking softly, perhaps asking the master what he wanted to eat. The man waved him away, and the butler turned to walk back to me.

“The master will be dining on lamb tonight. What would you like to eat?” he said in a quiet voice.

“Is there a menu?”

“The menu is whatever you would like it to be. Though I would warn you,” he glanced down the table, “your choice of food will be noted by the master.” I looked down the table, past the perfectly placed candles and table settings, to try to get a read of what I should do.

“I’ll require an appetizer, of the chef’s choice, however it must be served hot and with mozzarella cheese. Then, for the main course, I would like a ribeye steak from a cow slaughtered no more than 3 days ago, cooked with garlic and butter to just above rare, but slightly before medium rare. To pair with it, I would like a merlot from 1950 or earlier, but prior to that I would like a Coca-Cola, from the glass bottle, not a can, served with two spoonfuls of vanilla syrup mixed inside it.”

“Ah sir,” the butler started.

“Is there a problem?” I quipped, trying to appear as regal as possible.

“No sir. I merely wished to ask if you’d like your steak to be twelve ounces, or sixteen.”

“Twenty.” The butler looked at me, then nodded quickly and walked off. I looked down the table to beam at the master, yet he was absentmindedly jotting notes on a pad of paper that had seemingly appeared before him.

——

 

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THE GRIDDLE

HOL-Y CRAP

I just ate the griddle

No, not the pan.

I mean THE griddle
The pancake place

Off Sunset

In LA.

Never heard of it?
Look it up

Drive out

Wait 40 minutes

And take a seat.
Make sure you bring a friend.

It’s dangerous to go alone.

The pancakes.

They’re HUGE.
They’re like tiny moon

Perfectly rounded

Full of mystery

But you can eat them.
Except you can’t.

You’ll never survive a short stack alone.
But take your pick:

Banana

Oreo

Red velvet

The list goes on.
Breathe in the Vermont syrup smell

Watch your worries

Wash away

And enjoy your stay

A DAY TRIP

Hello everyone.

 

There are a lot of writing exercises that are done to get creative juices flowing. Sometimes there are quick writes, sometimes there are poetic writings, and I do a lot of them. A hard one is writing a story without punctuation, or capitalization, or anything related to Modern English grammar, which I am going to do today. It’s really difficult for me to do, and I recommend you read it out loud, because it is much easier to do that than read it in you mind. It is supposed to be a little jolting. Enjoy!:

 

we were watching the bee fly by when there was suddenly a strong wind that picked up him up and took him away to his next adventure for us we were still sitting on our red and white blanket and sipping at our red wine there was a lot of interesting flavors and honestly i have never been one to enjoy wine but my partner was enthralled by it the cheese and the bread was fresh and were a wonderful compliment to the wine as the day rolled by we drunk our wine and became quite intoxicated so much so that our words slurred and our giggles became more and more childish which in many ways made the afternoon more beautiful of course not all things can last and eventually the sunset arrived our picnic basket left empty and our glasses tossed aside i felt her hands in mine as the sun turned the skyline orange before us the clouds became a beautiful golden until eventually the light snuffed out all together the stars came out and we leaned back onto the blanket to look out into the sky above us and saw the moon a half sliver to bat away in the night and we lay there with out hands interlocked to drift away into a cool sleep until the temperature dropped and we awoke with a start it was night and there was nobody around us no children swinging no dogs barking just a few crickets chirping away the night she yawned and wiped the sleep in her eyes away before looking up to meet my gaze she smiled and accidentally knocked an empty wine bottle over we watched it roll down the hill slowly before eventually coming to a stop a small duck from the lake a short distance away came waddling over and tripped over the bottle in the darkness we shared a laugh before gathering our stuff up to go home i slipped my shoes back on which was a gruff change from the cool pricks of the grass to the hard innersoles of the shoe lining my shoes were well worn and quite a shabby site but she did not care because they were just shoes we walked carried our bottles like drunken sailors to make our walk more interesting because it is fun to escape from the struggles of the world around you sometimes even if in the morning we both would have work to do when we finally did get home things it must have been two or three in the morning because steven our neighbor was asleep and he is quite the night owl we stumbled up the stairs trying to stifle our giggles i reached for my keys and fumbled with the lock before finally getting it unlocked as i put my hand on the door to open up she put her hand on my chin and turned me to look at her she was a full head shorter than me but the quickly stood up to peck my lips with her own i felt a little dazed and she sunk back to the ground with a smile then she looked at the door expectantly and we walked inside as we had so many times before i loved her company and she loved mine but we were in no way demanding of each other when things happened they happened and when they did not they did not in the end when our heads hit our pillows we were out sawing logs but as i sank into a deep sleep i knew it had been another great day with her

 

Ok. Whew, that’s over with. What’d you think? Did it flow better the more you read it? Should I do this again? Let me know!

 

*I do not own the featured image. Credit to the photographer, though I could not find their name.

A GLASS OF MILK

She swallowed. The milk was cool and refreshing after a long day of work. She set the glass down on the counter, still half full, and looked out the window, admiring the uncharacteristically blue sky and the pinks and yellows of the neighbors flowerbeds. She wondered how the world could be so beautiful and so loving.

She heard the creek of the hardwood as she walked through her kitchen to her bedroom. The wood was cold beneath her socks, but she liked it. It, in many ways, was comforting to her to know that even on a warm day like today her house was a place for respite. She pulled off the sweat ridden t-shirt and pants she wore, and threw them in the hamper. They caught at the top of the pile for a moment, before listlessly rolling to the ground. She rinsed herself off, all the sweat, dirt, and filth from a day’s work melted away like the winter’s frost in spring.

She turned the water off, and for a moment paused to kick the small specks of dirt that now lined her tiled floor into the shower drain, before eventually drying off. She dressed herself in a pair of warm pajama pants and a long t-shirt, then walked back into the kitchen. She picked up her cup of milk, and took another small sip. As the liquid crossed her lips she looked back out to the world outside. It was nearly sunset, with the blue sky giving way to a beautiful orangish color.

Her eyes wandered through the clouds before finally settling on her husband, who was walking up the steps. His head was bowed in deep thought. She lifted the glass of milk for another sip. It was already half empty. She drained the glass, leaving but a thin residue along the side of the glass. There was a knock at the door. She swallowed.

MANAGING YOUR ENERGY

Hello everyone,

 

It’s another day, which means another set of responsibilities to be completed. Do you ever wonder where you get the energy to do so much? I do all the time. Seriously, I’m constantly tired, but at the same time I can keep working through things in life, which means I have energy coming from somewhere. Some people might call this internal motivation, and I’m sure they’re right, but at the same time it’s more than just mental. Sometimes different jobs require different levels of physical energy, which can make the mind more important than during, say, construction work.

That being said, it’s also really important to check out the energy you body is (or isn’t) providing to the rest of you, and what it means. I’ll use myself as an example. I typically get between 6 and 9 hours of sleep (usually closer to 6), which, especially when I am working out, is on the border or below the amount of hours needed for a body to fully recover after one night’s sleep. So how do you compensate for the lack of sleep? Well, eating better and drinking water (man, who could have told you that). I think water is the most important part. Water effectively provides hydration to the brain and body, allowing it to run more efficiently, which, if sleep is in deficit, every amount of efficiency counts. I know on many occasions for myself, I will drink upwards of 80 ounces a day in order to compensate for lack of sleep.

Sometimes, unfortunately, that doesn’t kick in until about midday, which for many people means that the morning is the worst part of their day. I’ve experienced this a lot, and of course eating breakfast helps (if you don’t eat breakfast, you should seriously consider eating something, even if it’s just a piece of toast). Personally, I like to use a vitamin C packet. It’s water soluble, which means it’s pretty much impossible to over dose on. And it provides a boost in energy…kind of like orange juice on steroids.

Energy also comes from food, which I’ll briefly discuss. Obviously, different foods have different nutrients, but I think there is a reason that the most important foods are from greens. It would do you good to read a bit about Trophic Levels to help understand my logic on this. Basically, energy comes from sunlight for plants, where they absorb the most energy. Consuming the plant means we get one-tenth of that energy. Consuming something that ate the plant gives us one-hundredth the energy from the original plant. Which means on a purely energy scale, you should eat things like, I don’t know, broccoli. Of course, sometimes its really hard to eat stuff like this in the morning. Especially since it can take time to prepare, so I understand if that’s not doable. I don’t really have time for it in my mornings. That being said, the upside is real and fantastic. What are your thoughts on ways to get more energy? Let me know in the comments below!

15% FOR HUMANITY

Hey everyone,

 

We’ve made it through another weekend. I was out with friends recently, and I live in California, so of course we went out to eat at some fantastic places, and some trashy ones. Every time I am out with one of my friends, he refuses to tip. His justification is that tips are designed to compensate people who are underpaid normally, and it is factored into their payroll. For example, if a waiter is paid $6 per hour, the tipping can help compensate them for the additional $2 to catch them up to minimum wage in several states. He said that in these states, it made sense to tip because that’s helping someone’s income to afford everything they need as minimum wage has defined it.

To contrast, in California he refuses to tip because the state requires that all waiters be paid minimum wage before their tips are added. His justification was that it makes no sense to tip a person for one job that deals with people but not another. For example, it doesn’t make sense to tip a waiter but to not tip a sales rep at JC Penny, or a cashier at Barnes & Noble. They have to deal with jerks, annoying people, friendly people, and other shades of personalities. This is solid logic when worded this way. It views food as a just a product, like a t-shirt or a novel. However, I think that it ignores the real reason for tipping.

I think tipping is, for the most part, not just good etiquette, but also something that reflects each waiter. Being a waiter is hard. You are constantly in high stress scenarios, dealing with multiple people at the same time, and it’s very easy after long, strenuous hours to break down at people. We’ve all had those days. Additionally, the waiter is a representative for you. Think about fast food places—they cut out the waiter. The cashier is the closest thing to a waiter, but they aren’t going to bring you a refill. They aren’t even required to care about you. Being able to listen to people, give recommendations, be composed, all the while juggling orders from people, your boss, and so on, is obscenely hard. Think about it. Retail work can be annoying, but at least when those people are taking payments the customers are in a line, so they only have to deal with one person at a time. A waiter has multiple people to deal with at a time. And remember. Who had the Coke. Who had the Sprite? Which table had the bacon and eggs with syrup and which one had the same thing but with egg whites?

Put the wrong plate down, and suddenly that food is technically no longer clean. The food HAS to be trashed, since legally nobody is safe to eat it except the people at that table, as the standards are currently. Which means a mistake could be 20 more minutes of waiting for a customer. That doesn’t happen in retail. A minor mistake can be reversed with a couple button pushes.

All this adds up to a tougher job, and then being able to stay composed. In France, the tip is included with the bill. And I’ve heard that the French waiters are less friendly because of this. They’re more like the McDonald’s employee who past a customer a tray with a burger. Take money, give product. Doesn’t that suck? So tip your waiters. Unless they’ve been absolutely terrible. In which case they didn’t rise to the occasion. But be fair with them. They’re people too.

PROCESSED FOOD: A LOVE AFFAIR

Hello everyone,

 

Happy Friday! It’s the weekend! Do you meal prep? I recently started trying it out myself. If you don’t know what meal prepping is, its basically front loading your entire cooking for the week. Some people just do it for one meal, some people do if for literally all of them; breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a pretty good idea, because it is quite a bit healthier than, say, not being sure what to eat and instead eating out. I like to prep my meals over the weekends, though I have not moved up to prepping more than just my lunches. Usually I get my groceries  on Saturdays and cook on Sundays (if I have the option to go to my local farmers market on Sunday to get food, I prefer to do that). Much like planning your life with a schedule, by meal prepping you plan your food. The advantage of this is that you are making and eating real food.

I don’t mean real food as in edible items—technically McDonald’s and soda is something your body can use as fuel. I mean not processed foods. Processed food effectively is food with added treatments and what not to make it sustainable in long voyages across the country as well as able to last while it sits on shelves. Think something like…Lucky Charms or Hot Pockets, or even bacon (yes, I know, bacon. Sorry for the bad news). What I mean by real food is items that avoid these mechanical aspects. The human body is designed to break down natural foods. Michael Pollan’s Food Rules is a great guide to understanding the difference between good food and bad food (hey look, categories!), and I highly recommend you do your best to pick up a copy. Science wise though, human beings have gone through thousands of years of development as omnivores, which is a trait we have maintained to this very day. The difference is, however, that for that vast majority of time we survived primarily off of green foods, with the occasional pleasure with meats and sugars.

The reason meat and sugar tastes so good to us is because we are programed to enjoy their flavor more—to crave them. For so long, humans beings were incapable of getting the ideal amount of proteins and sugars in their diet (hence why we have adapted to function off so little of it), and thus our brain brokered a deal with our “want center” in order to push us to eat these foods whenever available, because, back then, who knew when the next time we would get some would be? Processed foods provide an easy production of these foods, which I’m sure sounds like a great thing, but in reality is bad. We don’t control our want center very well—we never get training for it, and it’s all reactions to chemical stimulants in our brain that we don’t really control. This allows us to overindulge in sweets and meats, which our bodies are not ready to process. The result is increased rates of obesity and diabetes. In order to reduce this problem, we need to get control of ourselves—and the best way to do that is to create a disciplined schedule of our food intake!

THE QUALITY THRESHOLD

Hello everyone,

 

Welcome back to another issue of Cassady is late posting to his blog! Today’s entry is going to be on the idea of quality. Now, if you have kept up with my blog at all (spoilers) then you have already heard me make a reference to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig before. Quality is the underlying theme of the entire story—quality of life, quality of living, quality of work, and so on. Quality is something that is hard to interpret and managed. Unfortunately, due to Aristotelian theory, there are categories of quality, which ruins the whole concept of qualitative interpretation. The quality of something is based solely on the experience that someone has been through—and while many people share similar experiences that would cause for someone to believe that there is a threshold for a work, that can vary from culture to culture on a very broad scale.

The ethereal question “what is art?” falls under a similar guise. Is a five year old’s drawing on a scratch piece of paper really art? What about a famous artist who published that work of art under his or her own name? In that case, is it credibility that makes art good? In which case, go look at the works of Ringo Starr—not his works in music, or even a lot of his recent stuff, but his works in MS paint. Seriously. Take a look, here’s a link:

 

http://www.ringostarrart.com/art/

 

The reality is that art is a fluid definition, much like anything in life. There is good art, bad art, and things that are not art, if we attempt to categorize this. However, the definitions for each person in this area are fluid. A child development teacher is probably much more accepting of a child’s scribbling than the Director of Biological Science at any given college. Likewise, a visual art or graphic design student is likely to be more critical of their fellow peers on what is “good” art in comparison to what is “bad” art. Which is because we all look at the world, and therefore artistic representations of the world, through separate reference points. Even identical twins do this. This is because Art, as a concept, is something solely based out of human creation by the mind. Humans are human. An apple is an apple. Mammals…well, they vary in description, because it is a category that a human being created.

The same is true with art, and all most aspects in life. Which is why, in general, it is better to not just judge something based solely on your own ideas. For example, McDonald’s being strictly good or bad as a business and fast-food joint. McDonald’s, while in my opinion (and many others), is unhealthy and unethical in most respects, is not just a bad place to eat. It provides low-income groups with affordable food. Is it good that this food shortens their life span significantly and increases obesity rates? No, and they should not be pardoned for that. But in relation to how the amount of money that is spent, yes, they are a good company. They provide an outlet for people who, due to other aspects of the United States economic structure, cannot afford to eat out somewhere better. And it’s easy to say “well they could always eat at home, it’s cheaper,” but it’s a mature thing to recognize that eating out sometimes is the only option. Sometimes mom and dad have to work a second job that evening, and their children cannot cook themselves food, or the family car broke down and they couldn’t get groceries that day. Instead of just not eating, they eat worse food in terms of quality of product, but better food in terms of quality of short-term life requirements.

BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS

Hello everyone,

I had a blood orange today. Have you ever had one before? They’re absolutely to die for. They can be a bit hard to peel sometimes, but it’s well worth the struggle. After a few minutes of breaking off the reddish-orange exterior, your thumbs will probably be coated with a pink juice. The best part for someone who has only eaten plain oranges his whole life is that deep red that catches the eye where there should be orange. It really looks like someone injected a dye into the base of the fruit.

Then the first bite happens. Immediately, the juice within bursts through the membrane encapsulating the entire event. The flavor hits the tastebuds before the texture does. It’s so devilishly sweet, which is perhaps a feeling tied into the morbidity of the name. A smile creeps across my face, something that so few other fruits so passionately entertain. The citrusy smell that splits the air is riddled with the sweet smell that contradicts the poignant taste. But the whole experience is something you’ll never forget.

A bit excessive with my explanation right? Today, however briefly because I am clearly running late, I wanted to lament some ideas about excess. Firstly, it is important to recognize when something has become excessive. Too much food, too much sex, too many drugs, its all part of the problem. And it can be really, really hard to realize this-know that I personally have been unable to recognize personal excess until well after it changed how I lived my life. One of the best ways to combat this excess is to not cut it off entirely, but to subvert it. For me, this takes the form of eating tastier foods. I absolutely love eating out, to the point where I have gained weight and lost quite a bit of money. It’s unhealthy to eat like that too often, and in all likely hood it also depreciates my understanding of what it means to be a well rounded person. So I turned to things like, say, blood oranges. They’re exotic, which catches a similar vein to eating out (that is, they aren’t the “normal” foods), but they are also a healthy, fresh alternative. Treat the rest of life like that, and suddenly things are not just tasting better, they’re also feeling better too. There’s a certain wholeness that people get from accomplishing things themselves-whether its pride in their work or happiness in the outcome. Which is more valuable than any amount of money, because it is intangible. When I get my paycheck, sure, I’m happy that I can pay for gas and what not, but when I crack open that blood orange and watch it’s innards slosh onto the plate? That’s a different kind of satisfaction. The kind of satisfaction that make you want to go out and accomplish something, rather than with, say, money, where you are pigeonholed into keeping it all to yourself. Which is something we need more of in this hyper competitive world nowadays.