Quote of the Day 2010-7-31

Problems worthy
of attack
Prove their worth
by hitting back.

-Piet Hein

Bonus trivia: Piet Hein became notorious as a member of the Danish resistance during Nazi occupation by writing this poem. It passed German censors. If you understand it, then you’ve grasped the essence of freedom and self-respect:

Losing one glove
is certainly painful,
but nothing
compared to the pain,
of losing one,
throwing away the other,
and finding
the first one again.

Quote of the Day 2010-7-26

Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficial. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greater dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.

-Justice Louis Brandeis, Olmstead vs United States, 277 US 479 (1928)

Bonus trivia: Louis Brandeis graduated from Harvard Law School at the age of twenty with the highest grade average in the school’s history. He is also the first Jew appointed to the Supreme Court.

Quote of the Day 2010-7-18

“No, and I don’t want to,” said Frodo. “I can’t understand you. Do you mean to say that you, and the Elves, have let him live on after all those horrible deeds? Now at any rate he is as bad as an Orc, and just an enemy. He deserves death.”

“Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

-J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Sippers Writing Circle: Cooking Well: Directed Passion

Cooking is a discipline. At the end of the day, there are no shortcuts to chopping vegetables, butchering meat, or kneading dough. You simply have to do it.

But therein lies the passion. Cooking well is a labor of love, a true salute that hard work is more important than talent. Cooking well means taking fewer shortcuts and doing things the long way because your dish might come out 1% better. You throw out the bottles of minced garlic and start chopping because your guests deserve the real thing. You haggle at the farmer’s market and make your own stock because your loved ones deserve the freshest ingredients you can find.

Cooking well is like playing the piano. A six year old is being creative and original when they bang their hands on the keys, but that doesn’t make them budding concert pianists. It’s only through years of training and learning the basics that the piano goes from a box with 88 keys to a beautiful instrument.

Society has spent the last few decades learning to eat well, and we are all better for it. We no longer eschew sushi as merely raw fish and we can tell the difference between hamburger meat and steaks. But cooking well has been left behind. People have lost the ability to speak through their own hands, conveying a message with words like passion, culture, and memory. We’ve been slightly ashamed to dare ourselves to roll up our sleeves and take pride in our home cooked meals, providing for our families at the most visceral level.

But there is hope. Cooking is finding fresh interest as people who eat well have decided that maybe they’d like a crack at taking their own chances. This recession has taken away our budgets for fancy restaurants and forced us to learn the tough virtues: hard work, finding your calling, and family. Cooking well takes a whole new meaning now.

Quote of the Day 2010-7-13

You want a valve that doesn’t leak and you try everything possible to develop one. But the real world provides you with a leaky valve. You have to determine how much leaking you can tolerate.

-Arthur Rudolph

Bonus trivia: Rudolph was a notorious figure because he designed the V-2 rocket production facility, which used Nazi concentration camp labor. He was captured by US forces and brought back, eventually joining the team that designed NASA’s Saturn V rocket.

Sippers Writing Circle: Moving

This is a special feature with two of my closest friends, where we all write about a specific topic. The other two writers can be found at liveveloce.wordpress.com and www.killbam.net, for some different perspectives.

To be honest, I don’t have many experiences with moving. I’ve been very stable in my life, having only three major addresses. First is my hometown in Palos Verdes. I then moved to Durant Avenue in Berkeley and lived there for the next ten years, when I decided to move in with my now wife Aki onto Shattuck Avenue in north Berkeley.

Overall, I think moving is a necessary evil in life, one of those things that shakes up life and forces you to pick what’s truly important. It’s also a reflection of mobility, whether you’re moving from one place to a better one, a worse one, or just a sideways jump.

But with even a small set, I have gathered a few tips that make moving a much less painful process:

-Plan ahead

An obvious tip but it’s often surprising how few people do it, or how many people do it badly. As with anything in life, a little organization goes a long way. But keep in mind that this doesn’t mean having a set and inflexible idea of what the move should look like, a common flaw that is just as counterproductive as having no plan at all.

-Label your boxes

A more specific tip and maybe still obvious, but more uncommon than you might think. You may need to be a little more specific than a date on “books”.

-Don’t be afraid to throw stuff away

Home is where the heart is, and people collect a lot of memories from life in any one place. But when you move on, you can’t carry all your memories with you, so don’t be afraid to use the trash can and discard stuff that isn’t very important or doesn’t help you. I’m not advocating a pure functionalism, because sometimes it’s the memorable stuff or the emotional lessons that teach us the most, not just the most useful.