Sunday, May 21, 2006

Match Tough

When I graduated from the Pastry program, I was one of the best bakers to come out of the program in years... Or at least I was told. My last semester, I was in charge of all the bread production for the entire school. I loved it. I went into the apprentice program thinking that I could just expand upon my baking knowledge. Then, Chef threw me a screw ball. When I started the pastry apprenticeship, he told me that I was no longer allowed to bake bread. The first three weeks of my apprenticeship was spent working with chocolate, a task that I was capable of, but hated doing. Then, halfway through week four, something in my head clicked, and the concepts of working with chocolate was suddenly oh so clear to me. It was then that I started contemplating becoming a chocolatier instead of a baker, and I looked forward to learning everything that I could about chocolate. Then, chef threw me another screw ball. Just as I became proficient in Chocolate, he told me that I was no longer allowed to work with chocolate.

Every time I became proficient in any given area of Pastry Arts, Chef would force me to start learning another skill. It was then that I had an epiphany. "Match Tough" didn't mean that I had to bust my ass all the time, "Match Tough" meant that I shouldn't restrict myself to any one thing. If only worked on my baking skills, I probably would have become really good at it, and eventually became a head baker somewhere, but that's all that I would have been. Just a baker.

A Pastry Chef can't just bake. A pastry chef has to be able to do everything; bake, make candies, desserts, decorate cakes, work with chocolate, everything. Sure, some of my classmates were making money, and advancing their careers, but all they were specialists, and all they would ever be, were specialists. I wanted to become a chef, and the sacrifices that I made early in my career would pay off in the long run.

When I finished the apprenticeship program, I got a job working in the Pastry shop at the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia. After spending two years as an apprentice, I was looking forward to seeing how my skills matched up against industry professionals. To my disappointment, knowledge and skill, like in most union establishments, took a back seat to seniority. I was happy to see that the chef I apprenticed under had made sure that I was VERY well prepared for the industry. I had more skill, experience, and knowledge than half of the pastry shop, but because I was the new guy, I was relegated to baking cookies all day. For 4 months, all I did every friggin day was bake cookies. I hated it, and seriously contemplated quitting.

I had spent some time contemplating, and made a long distance call to my chef. After a long talk, he reminded me that part of being “Match Tough” is sacrifice. Just like when I was an apprentice, I now had to make a sacrifice for the betterment of my goal of becoming a chef. Sure I was baking cookies all day, but I was hardly an expert cookie maker. At the time, I had yet to make the perfect batch of cookies. Also, during my apprenticeship, I had acquired so much knowledge, that I bare knew how to use it all. Sure, I knew the concepts of pastry in theory, but I was in no way an expert. The Greenbrier gave me the opportunity, and the facilities to put into practice a lot of the concepts that I only knew in theory. Yeah, making cookies all day sucked, but, because of my experiences at the Greenbrier, now I can make a DAMN good cookie.

I had let my situation make me bitter, and I forgot what it truly meant to be “Match Tough”. I got the words “Match Tough” along with the Chinese kanji for “Sacrifice” tattooed on my forearm, to make sure that I would never forget again. Many have remarked when they look at it that it is up-side-down. What they don’t realize, is that the tattoo faces me so that I can read it. That way, whenever I look down, I can see it and be reminded why I do what I do.

Graveyard Shift

Over the past two days, my 16 month old niece has been really sick. So sick, that my sister and I had to take her to the ER last night. Thankfully, it was nothing serious, but I sat in the ER until 6am. As my sister and niece slept quietly in the ER bed next to me, I sat in a chair watching some crappy Keanu Reeves movie. Yet again, I was wide awake while others in my family soundly slept.

I started to think back to my first stint with insomnia. It was after a restaurant that I worked at closed down. I was still attending culinary school, working towards my second degree (I had graduated with a Pastry degree, then I went back finishe the Culinary program). My schedule at the time was insane. I worked from 10pm-6am. Then from work, I went strait to the school where I attended classes from 8am-noon. I was also participating in a Pastry Appreticeship, so I did my appreticeship work from noon-3pm. I then had more classes from 3-5pm, and finally, somewhere between 5-10pm, I attempted to get some sleep. I did this for six months before the restaurant closed. As I look back on it now, if the restaurant hadn't closed, I probably would have worked myself into a nervous breakdown.

The main thought going throung my mind was that I was young, 21 at the time, and better to be busting my ass now. I probably would not be where I am at in my career had I not worked as hard as I did, but I am deffinitly paying for it now. Yeah I did learn a lot more than my fellow classmates, and am a lot further along in my career because of it, but I wouldn't have minded partying like other college students instead of working my ass off.

The chef that I apprenticed under in culinary school always told me that if I wanted to become a successful chef, that I had to become "Match Tough". I admit, that I didn't really understand what he was telling me. At first, I thought that it ment that I just had to bust my ass, and that's what I was trying to do. As my apprenticeship proressed, I soon realized that match tough didn't have anything to do with busting my ass.

After the restaurant closed, I picked up a teaching gig at the culinary school. This worked out great for me since now I was getting paid for the apprentiship work that I was doing. After six months of utter exhaustion, I was looking forward to a full night's sleep. Unfortunatly, I found out that it doesn't work out that way. I didn't fall asleep until 4-5am my first night. After a few weeks of this, I did a little research, and this was the first time that I found out about Delayed Sleep Phase which is common among "Shift Workers" or people who work hours (graveyard shift) counter to the body's natual biological clock. I made an appointment to see a sleep specialist, and he confirmed my suspicions. Seven years later, and I'm still dealing with this shit. Oh well, such is the life of chronic insomniac.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Goodbye to the West Wing

Well, after seven glorious seasons, Sunday was the Series finale for my all-time favorite show. Unfortunatly the last three seasons with John Wells as Executive Producer, were increadibly lacking compaired to the first four seasons, during which time the show won four consecutive Best Drama Emmys, under the healm of Aaron Sorkin. I have to admit that th series finale was a bit anticlimactic for me. I am severely disappointed that Toby was not in the series finale AT ALL! The entire Toby fiasco dragged on for far too long. Because of it Toby could not participate in Leo's funeral, the election and the Inauguration (It would have been nice to have seen Sam and Toby working together on a speech again). I personally feel cheated due to the fact that Bartlet was in office for eight years, but we only got six and a half seasons. What a rip off! Like all problems I have with my all-time favorite show, I blame John Wells. I'm partially thankful that they wrapped up most of the remaining plot questions. HOWEVER, the following questions still remain:

What about Charlie and Zoey?

What is Kate going to do now?

Did C.J. accept Franklin Hollis' offer to run his organization?

Did Nancy McNally become UN Ambassador?

Did Ainsley Hayes become White House Counsel?

Did Oliver Babish become Attorney General?

What happened to Gail?

And most importantly: Why the Hell was Sam not at Leo's Funeral!?!?

Rob Lowe's return was a waste of time; his had one line in the series finale made me think that perhaps he was being paid by the word, so they kept his dialogue to a minimum. Lou was noticeably missing. Was the Inauguration not a big enough event for the White House Communications Director?

The finale could have been infinitely better than what NBC put out, however, the show went out with class, and I can respect that. When Santos walked out to be sworn in, I was talking to my sister about what a shocking ending it would be if Santos were assassinated while taking the oath of office. It could have been easy for the network to put in some stupid twist ending ala St. Elsewhere, or Newhart. Kudos to John Wells for fighting the urge to do something stupid, and allowing the show to go out with some class.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

New Reformation

I heard about this guy on an NPR news report. He's a professor of theology in Oakland named Matthew Fox, President Emeritus Wisdom University. He has writen over twenty books on his views on theology. His latest work is a new list of "95 Thesies: Articles of Faith for a Christianity for the Third Millennium" can be found here: [url][/url] Here are a few that I found intersting:

4. God the Punitive Father is not a God worth honoring but a false god and an idol that serves empire-builders. The notion of a punitive, all-male God, is contrary to the full nature of the Godhead who is as much female and motherly as it is masculine and fatherly.

8. All are called to be prophets which is to interfere with injustice.

10. God loves all of creation and science can help us more deeply penetrate and appreciate the mysteries and wisdom of God in creation. Science is no enemy of true religion.

11. Religion is not necessary but spirituality is.

13. Spirituality and religion are not the same thing any more than education and learning, law and justice, or commerce and stewardship are the same thing.

15. Christians must distinguish between Jesus (an historical figure) and Christ (the experience of God-in-all-things).

24. Creativity is both humanity’s greatest gift and its most powerful weapon for evil and so it ought to be both encouraged and steered to humanity’s most God-like activity which all religions agree is: Compassion.

27. Ideology is not theology and ideology endangers the faith because it replaces thinking with obedience, and distracts from the responsibility of theology to adapt the wisdom of the past to today’s needs. Instead of theology it demands loyalty oaths to the past.

29. No matter how much the television media fawn over the pope and papacy because it makes good theater, the pope is not the church but has a ministry within the church. Papalolotry is a contemporary form of idolatry and must be resisted by all believers.

30. Creating a church of Sycophants is not a holy thing. Sycophants (Webster’s dictionary defines them as “servile self-seeking flatterers”) are not spiritual people for their only virtue is obedience. A Society of Sycophants — sycophant clergy, sycophant seminarians, sycophant bishops, sycophant cardinals, sycophant religious orders of Opus Dei, Legioneers of Christ and Communion and Liberation, and the sycophant press--do not represent in any way the teachings or the person of the historical Jesus who chose to stand up to power rather than amassing it.

54. The Holy Spirit works through all cultures and all spiritual traditions and blows “where it wills” and is not the exclusive domain of any one tradition and never has been.

55. God speaks today as in the past through all religions and all cultures and all faith traditions none of which is perfect and an exclusive avenue to truth but all of which can learn from each other.

56. Therefore Interfaith or Deep Ecumenism are a necessary part of spiritual praxis and awareness in our time.

68. Pedophilia is a terrible wrong but its cover-up by hierarchy is even more despicable.

69. Loyalty and obedience are never a greater virtue than conscience and justice.

70. Jesus said nothing about condoms, birth control or homosexuality.

71. A church that is more preoccupied with sexual wrongs than with wrongs of injustice is itself sick.

72 Since homosexuality is found among 464 species and in 8 percent of any given human population, it is altogether natural for those who are born that way and is a gift from God and nature to the greater community.

73 Homophobia in any form is a serious sin against love of neighbor, a sin of ignorance of the richness and diversity of God’s creation as well as a sin of exclusion.

74. Racism, Sexism and militarism are also serious sins.


So, The LOST Experience ARG has started, and I have started a Blog dedicated to LOST and the ARG. What started out as a personal cheat sheet to remember all the clues has turned into something I never expected. As of May 13, My LOST blog has cleared over 12,000 hits in just 10 days. I couldn't believe it. Then as my blog's popularity grew, I becane to get popular forums setting up direct links to my blog. HOLY CRAP! Right now,,,, The Fuselage, and Your Theories all have direct links to my blog. I have to admit that there is a bit of pressure now knowing that people are actually reading what I post. Before it was just something to keep me occupied at night when I couldn't sleep, not it's like... I don't know what it's like, but this attention has go me a little buggy. On the side though, it's also nice to know that my blog actually helps people out. Oh well, I guess I'll just keep plugging away at it.