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Blood at LaMotta's


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The real goal in the front of the house is to give the customer an escapist fantasy experience so that they can leave feeling terrific!

Project, one might posit that the Daily Gullet is eGullet's FOH presence, and thus the VEFE you seem to be arguing against in food writing is exactly what should be provided here. An escapist fantasy experience, or EFE, that leaves me smiling. It was and I am.

Now if I want shucking lessons so I can escape a similar fate, I'll go look for something illustrated elsewhere...in someplace with a name like "Shellfish techniques, illustrated" perhaps. :biggrin:

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I thought leaving some of the names out in the book was a little bit odd. It's a matter of record that Chodorow was a partner in the restaurant so why not name him? (Can the lawers on staff help with this one?)

It's unnecessary and irrational. But having been in the position of being an author (and a lawyer) having his manuscript reviewed by a publisher's legal department, I can tell you that your choice is to do it their way or not have the book published -- there is very little room for negotiation, even if you're a literary agent like Michael Psaltis is (he is my literary agent). So some lawyer at Random House mistakenly thought it would make some sort of difference not to name Chodorow, Blue Hill, etc., and the Psaltises surely had no choice but to comply. Since it's pretty easy to figure out what's what, I guess it doesn't really matter.

To someone outside the publishing industry or legal profession, it's still going to suggest the authors are making claims, stating opinions as facts or otherwise making questionable statements whose veracity cannot easily be challenged. What probably matters to the lawyers, publishers and authors is that putting a fake name to the character pretty much renders that person helpless to make a meaningful defense or claim of damage.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Carrot Top:

<br><br>

<b>Thanks</b> for your thoughts!

<br>

you might enjoy searching the bookstore or library

(or Amazon under "Professional Books") for books specifically

detailing restaurant operations and management. They do cover

the subjects you seek knowledge about.

I've looked at all promising books at a large Barnes and

Noble, and I have some of the best regarded books.

There are also programs on cooking on TV.

<br><br>

I conclude that material on documentation and/or instruction

in cooking is not easy to find in books and on TV.

For why, the shortest explanation I have is that the culture

of what I called VEFE dominates book and TV content on cooking

and drives out documentation and instruction.

<br><br>

For hope for getting around VEFE, there isn't much:

The VEFE culture is pervasive and has even dominated and

ruined video programs in high school and college mathematics

and science, driving out the significant material, getting too

much of the rest wrong, and filling in all the rest with VEFE.

Since the VEFE culture has been able to ruin such high school

and college material, there is little hope for that culture

doing well with cooking.

<br><br>

While VEFE has dominated cooking in books and TV, eG is a real

bright spot.

Thanks to the Internet, Steve, Jason, etc.

<br><br>

It may be that the <i>flip side</i> of the problem of VEFE

blocking instruction and documentation in cooking is an

opportunity:

Go ahead and provide some good instruction and documentation.

Reasons for hope include the prices and capabilities of

digital video cameras, desktop video editing software, DVDs,

the Internet, and eG.

<br>

Would music have people understanding your point?

Much of what I said about music should be easy enough to

accept:

For music not meaning anything, well, it is super tough to put

it into words.

<br><br>

For what I said about individual pieces, one of the easiest

remarks to agree with would be the one for the R. Strauss

piece <i>Ein Heldenleben</i> (a hero's life):

The music is plainly a <i>story</i> of a man who encounters a

problem, solves the problem, and gets the girl.

So, there are themes for the man, the problem, and the girl.

As I recall, the theme for the man was once used as the theme

for some big TV network news or public affairs program; for

noble human dignity, a <i>hero,</i> it's a good theme.

R. Wagner's four part opera <i>The Ring</i> has some of the

world's most dramatic music:

At the end, the part where the main character Siegfried dies

definitely sounds like something really awful just happened;

it is more than up to communicating the tragedy of a cut hand!

<br><br>

Mostly such classical music, while often very emotional, is

not in <i>one to one</i> correspondence with particular human

situations; instead, several human situations can seem to

correspond to one piece of music.

So, my <i>interpretations</i> of the <i>Scottish Fantasy,

Chaconne,</i> etc. are not the only ones possible; still,

people who know that music might usually find my

interpretations reasonable.

For the <i>Chaconne,</i> I will confess to giving it a

relatively grand interpretation, but to violinists it is

usually near the top of the list.

Each time Hollywood spends the money for an original

orchestral film score, they provide another example of the

importance of music, and movie audiences around the world get

it right away!

<br>

Would art, to the general public, have them understanding your

point?

Or would it take the years of formal education in the subject

for one to capture your meaning?

Formal education won't have much to do with it.

<br><br>

It's not that people really take VEFE material seriously as

real content about serious subjects; they don't.

E.g., if your dear child has a bad tummy ache, you take them

to a physician, and the physician starts talking VEFE stuff,

then you will be shocked and horrified and suddenly find some

really important reason to leave right away; this would even

be the case for taking your child's dear kitty cat to a

veterinarian who started talking VEFE.

<br><br>

Still, in movies, magazines, and TV media, VEFE rules, almost

universally.

The publishers of books and magazines on cooking and the

producers of TV programs on cooking want VEFE much more than

documentation and instruction.

Would they eat the results prepared by a member of their

target audience?

Not a chance.

<br><br>

Often, but not always, VEFE has made buckets of money.

So, the media believes in VEFE.

For documentation and instruction, they don't want it.

I do; they don't.

<br>

Would science have people understanding your point?

In what I'm saying, I'm using mathematics and science only

indirectly, just as examples of material with comparatively

high <i>intellectual safety and efficacy.</i>

<br>

It might, but it would need be put into words, for most of us

speak in words, in language.

Perhaps you would have us all speaking mathematics so all

would be clear and concise.

But as we have been speaking language for thousands of years,

you would need the words to teach the mathematics, to do the

translation.

I didn't include any mathematics!

<br><br>

Actually, mathematics needs to be written in a natural

language, e.g., English, and in complete sentences.

It is <b>not</b> a different <i>language!</i>

<br><br>

The main confusion on this point is just the symbols common in

mathematics, but, with well written mathematics, there is a

really simple approach to these symbols -- basically they are

just names.

Here is an example:

<blockquote>

For this problem we are considering, there is an important

number, call it <i>x.</i>

In our work, <i>x</i> is a whole number and is positive

(greater than zero).

If <i>y</i> is a positive whole number and if so is

<i>x/y,</i> then we say that <i>y</i> is a <i>divisor</i> of

<i>x</i> and write <i>y</i>|<i>x.</i>

Of course 1|<i>x</i> and <i>x</i>|<i>x.</i>

If the only divisors of <i>x</i> are 1 and <i>x,</i> then we

say that <i>x</i> is a <i>prime</i> number.

We can now prove a theorem:

<blockquote>

There is no largest prime number; so, there must be infinitely

many prime numbers.

</blockquote>

</blockquote>

And so forth.

It's all English sentences; the symbols are just names; the

other notation is just an abbreviation for for what has

previously been defined carefully in English.

<br>

If you would have people understand your point, it must be

done in language, and it must be done well, and it must be

done so that it is appealing.  It must appeal to the human

spirit for most human beings to be interested in reading the

words that would lead to any truth of any sort.

You sound so very angry with fiction.

I will tell you one thing.  You want to know how to become a

chef.  How to walk that path.  A path must be walked and even

sometimes chopped through based on one's own personal

narrative.  Fiction provides narratives.  Personally, I never

could have become anything at all in life but probably a

victim of sorts given the circumstances of my own young life

if it were not for fiction.  For books.  For stories.

Believing as a child that I *was* in a sense Pippi

Longstocking carried me to being a chef.  Much more than any

knife skills or oyster-opening skills did.  They were only the

way.  Not, the path.  Both are required.  A way and a path.

I have just long wanted to learn how to cook better; that's

why I come to eG.

I just want the documentation, instruction, and information.

I don't much ask that the writing "appeal to the human

spirit".

<br><br>

To me, VEFE has been a huge waste.

But, gee, I didn't say that VEFE was fuming reeking glowing

flaming boiling seething sticky chunky intellectual toxic

waste!

And, why would I deeply profoundly bitterly hate and despise

and be torqued and infuriated about all that huge waste?

Gee, I should spend $35 on scallops, carefully work with

ginger, etc., drive long distances, spend most of a Saturday,

work very carefully, taste the results, say <b>YUCK,</b> flush

the work, boil up four hot dogs, and be happy, happy, happy!

Gee, "very angry with fiction"?

We know what <i>fiction</i> is -- it's not true!

Why should I be "very angry with fiction"?

I should rush right out, get a big sack of oysters, try to

shuck them, cut my hand, spend a few thousand dollars on

medical bills!

Fun, fun, isn't formula fiction just <b>so</b> much fun!

<br><br>

I've worked with hand tools in woodworking, metal working,

cooking, auto maintenance, and electronics and have not yet

seriously hurt myself.

It is possible to use hand tools without losing blood!

<br><br>

The VEFE people are trying to sell their stuff.

I can use some of it for light entertainment.

Otherwise, for any important practical purpose, I can't use it

and, thus, won't buy it.

Maybe their VEFE is the best they have to sell; they deserve

sympathy and empathy for the passion, pathos, poignancy, and

pains of their profoundly perplexing predicament, for some

awful alliteration regarded as so significant in the VEFE

culture.

<br><br>

Glad you did well as a chef.

I've done some good things, some of them more challenging than

I would have ever planned to have attempted, but never did I

ever have or need anything like what you got from Pippi

Longstocking.

Some of what I needed was a willingness to go without a lot of

sleep and to sacrifice and work hard.

<br><br>

Thanks for your thoughts on my late wife; yes, that was a huge

loss.

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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[...]For music not meaning anything, well, it is super tough to put

it into words.[...]

To which I would only say that there is much meaning that is difficult or impossible to translate into mere words. But I'm not sure there's much use in my going further with this line of discussion, in words, on a site that is about food and not about the meaning of music.

My condolences, too, on the loss of your wife.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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In addition to trying to explain how to learn how to cook --something that JAZ touched on -- or at least one way to go about it, I think this excerpt teaches you some other things, starting with: you are on your own.

If it's not opening up your hand while shucking oysters, it's cleaning fifty pounds of shrimp and contracting a life-long skin sensitivity, or standing for hours in a zero-degree freezer, banging into rock-solid corpses and maneuvering trays of fragile hors d'oeuvres about in order to count the uncountable. If it's not trying to decide whether or not that bleeding palm requires stitches (which you will pay for, since it's unlikely that you will have medical coverage), it's trying to decide if it's worth getting up early on your first day off in three weeks to take the bus into town and stage at a new place, just because you might learn something.

I'm not sure how much sympathy is required -- or expected -- here. Learning to be a chef is a life people choose, for the most part. And certainly there are other paths: culinary school, formal stages, corporate ladders, if those choices are open to you. But this is the story of a life. It's not escapism to wonder what it's like. It's curiosity. Maybe it's educational.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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[...]For music not meaning anything, well, it is super tough to put

it into words.[...]

To which I would only say that there is much meaning that is

difficult or impossible to translate into mere words. But I'm

not sure there's much use in my going further with this line

of discussion, in words, on a site that is about food and not

about the meaning of music.

My condolences, too, on the loss of your wife.

Thanks for your remark on music.

Yes, in my earlier drafts of my post, I did explain further,

mentioned a book by L. Bernstein, etc., but cut down the

material.

I did want to keep a connection with this thread:

I claimed that the article was <i>literature</i> and, thus,

was trying to have emotional content and that just for emotion

could use music.

One could argue that music didn't mean anything (literally in

the sense of, say, English); then, literature was also free to

have emotional content without really meaning anything.

Back to restaurants, could use music to add to the emotional

experience.

<br><br>

Gee, we think about food and wine pairings, so maybe we should

think about food and music pairings?

<br><br>

Thanks for your condolences on my wife.

It's not an acute situation:

She died years ago, and the pains are supposed to be gone by

now.

I can recall that if one is alone in a big house in the hills

of Pawling, NY and screams loudly enough, then there can be an

audible echo back from the hills.

Edited by project (log)

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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Dave the Cook:

In addition to trying to explain how to learn how to cook

--something that JAZ touched on -- or at least one way to go

about it, I think this excerpt teaches you some other things,

starting with: you are on your own.

If it's not opening up your hand while shucking oysters, it's

cleaning fifty pounds of shrimp and contracting a life-long

skin sensitivity, or standing for hours in a zero-degree

freezer, banging into rock-solid corpses and maneuvering trays

of fragile hors d'oeuvres about in order to count the

uncountable. If it's not trying to decide whether or not that

bleeding palm requires stitches (which you will pay for, since

it's unlikely that you will have medical coverage), it's

trying to decide if it's worth getting up early on your first

day off in three weeks to take the bus into town and stage at

a new place, just because you might learn something.

I'm not sure how much sympathy is required -- or expected --

here. Learning to be a chef is a life people choose, for the

most part. And certainly there are other paths: culinary

school, formal stages, corporate ladders, if those choices are

open to you. But this is the story of a life. It's not

escapism to wonder what it's like. It's curiosity. Maybe it's

educational.

Good points.

Lessons on how to learn to be a cook are, to me, fully

welcome.

But, is the piece more like a movie and, thus, likely

"escapist" for the audience, or more like a documentary and,

thus, more informative?

Sure, one practical lesson could be in how to shuck oysters

safely, and as you point out another one can be what it really

takes to <i>make it</i> in the industry from the first back

door of a restaurant to success in the field.

To me the piece looked like no more than just

<i>literature</i> and formula fiction complete with a

protagonist with a problem and some passion visible out the

door of the kitchen.

<br><br>

For "you are on your own", that can be a good lesson.

I do believe that knowledge in cooking can be formulated and

recorded, as documentation and instruction, so that people can

learn much more easily.

Sure, could say that cooking does not have the tens of

billions of dollars a year poured into research with

requirements to [A] train students and publish research

results that the main fields of mathematics, physical science,

engineering, and medical science get.

But, in contrast, actually the number of books published on

cooking is plenty high.

So, the difficulty of learning may be a reason for the

publishers to listen up:

<blockquote>

Lots of people really actually want to learn to cook.

They are not joking.

They are losing sleep, devoting large parts of their lives,

giving up a lot, suffering injuries, etc.

Now, wouldn't they really actually want some instructional

documentation instead of just <i>fiction?</i>

</blockquote>

In the meanwhile, for an individual to learn, they may need

your lesson "you are on your own".

<br><br>

I believe that you are on to something important quite

generally with this lesson:

E.g., elsewhere on eG I posted some notes on cooking scallops

with a sauce with roux, milk, egg yolks, cream, and lemon

juice, and some eG members posted some nice comments about my

notes.

There is an interesting post saying that a more modern

approach can omit the roux and egg yolks and use reduced

cream.

Interesting.

Well, another way to convert cream to a thick sauce is to put

it in a cloth bag, suspend and refrigerate it, and let some

water leak through the bag.

So, this way, don't have to boil down the cream, and that fact

might help the flavor, texture, etc.

How to know?

Use your comment, "you are on your own".

Or, use the TIFO method -- try it and find out.

<br><br>

For more on "you are on your own", that lesson did some of the

very best things for me.

K-12 has been pushing hard to have students work in groups,

frequently working on joint projects sitting at a round table,

etc.

Since the girls are much better at working in groups than the

boys, I regard this K-12 push as an insidious feminist

conspiracy to further emasculate the boys as they suffer in

K-12 -- the teachers are nearly all women, and at each age the

girls are much more mature and skilled socially than the boys

-- but I'll set this point aside!

Recent K-12 pushes aside, too commonly life's challenges boil

down to "you are on your own".

Shakespeare, listen up here, you're learning something.

<br><br>

One consequence is what you mentioned:

If you want to learn, then do it -- grab all the knowledge you

can from wherever you can get it.

<br><br>

I'm not in cooking; I'm in computing, but long ago I concluded

that a key to the US computer industry was highly motivated

talented people who knew that "you are on your own".

Early in my career I did a lot of applied mathematics; I did

it on my own, and I got paid relatively well for it.

The money had my wife and I regulars at the <i>Rive Gauche</i>

French restaurant long at the SW corner of Wisconsin and M

streets in Georgetown, DC, and we got good frequent samplings

of all the grape juice from Macon to Dijon!

<br><br>

Eventually, to learn more, I went to graduate school.

Too soon I learned again "you are on your own", and using this

lesson totally saved my tail feathers:

I arrived at school with some interesting problems I had

encountered in my career.

In my first summer, sat in the library for six weeks, took one

of these problems, built on some nice material in a course my

first year, did some original work, got a nice outline of a

solution, and wrote 50 pages.

That helped, a little.

<br><br>

In my second year, I asked for a <i>reading course</i>

proposing to attack a problem encountered but not solved in a

course.

My solution had only to be expository, basically just a

writing exercise, and not original.

When my proposal was approved, I immediately presented the

outline of my solution -- had worked it out the previous week.

I wrote it up in about 20 pages and was done -- about three

weeks start to finish.

<br><br>

But, I had done some original work:

Since the problem had been unsolved, my work was original

<i>research.</i>

I needed a preliminary result and worked out one; turned out,

my result was comparable with a classic result of H. Whitney,

long at Harvard.

Turned out, my work also solved another problem, once posed by

K. Arrow when he worked in that field before his Nobel prize.

So, my little <i>reading course</i> was some research.

<br><br>

Turns out, in such parts of academics, such research trumps

nearly everything else.

Any of the professors would have been pleased to have done

the work.

The rest of my time in graduate school went much easier!

<br><br>

Soon I returned to my 50 page manuscript, wrote some

illustrative software, typed it up, turned it in, stood for an

oral exam, and graduated.

That work was done without meaningful faculty direction,

essentially independently, starting with "you are on your

own".

<br><br>

In graduate school, I saw a <b>lot</b> of beautifully capable

people be seriously damaged for life.

Mostly they were trying to avoid the lesson "you are on your

own".

My view is that one of the most important lessons in getting

through graduate school (in the arts, sciences, and

engineering) can be just to accept and then execute well on

the lesson "you are on your own" and, in particular, thus,

produce a piece of work that can be published in a

peer-reviewed journal.

In some fields, really have to work on a team; then, this

lesson might have to be set aside; otherwise, with appropriate

other circumstances, etc., this lesson can be magic.

<br><br>

Indeed, one way to win a dispute over the quality of some

research work is just to publish the work in a peer-reviewed

journal; commonly such publication alone is regarded as

sufficient evidence of quality for academic purposes.

So, dummy, don't argue about it; just publish it.

<br><br>

It is true that the people who do really well in K-12 and

college mostly avoid the lesson "you are on your own" and,

instead, concentrate on "how can I please that teacher?".

Thus, it is just these students who can be quite vulnerable in

graduate school.

<br><br>

Taking the attitude "you are on your own" can appear to others

to be rejection of them and, thus, result in one being more

alone and "on your own" even if one was not really alone

before and, thus, can have some severe risks.

Still, too often life forces "you are on your own" whether

wanted or not.

Thus, accepting and proceeding with "you are on your own" is

not the only lesson in getting through life, but, at times, it

can be one of the best ones.

<br><br>

Note:

I'm not attempting literature here in any sense at all.

Instead, I'm trying to communicate some information from some

actual real examples, information that can serve as sample

data and be interesting and/or useful.

What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

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project, my questions that mentioned music and mathematics were simply rhetorical instruments that seemed to make what I was writing sing better than it would have without them.

I have to say though that to me there seems to be a lot of books out there without VEFE. And please understand that I clearly understand what you say when you write VEFE and did understand from the first moment you used the word. Studying the ways people are formally or informally educated, how they learn and what they learn in a variety of situations and ways is one of my own deep passions and interests and one that I keep up on through sites like VASNET which is the only national "scholars" website that does have interactive qualities for the users.

To be philosophic for a moment, it might be that what we humans seek in life is what we generally find. If VEFE is in your field of consciousness as a problem, then wherever you look you will be likely to find it (which is sometimes defined as the concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy").

It does not seem to me that VEFE is anything new in the history of the world though. Although this sort of romanticism is said to have been invented only several centuries ago, it still lurked in the hearts of the human race and did exhibit itself in various ways in various metiers. Not only in writing.

VEFE to me is like a crappy casserole (made from a mass of dishonest and not well-thought out ) ingredients that one finds at many Pot Lucks or indeed at many people's houses. It is mediocrity dressed up in cheap finery and fussed over.

But too bad. This is what many people have chosen. Let them have it if it makes them happy, finally, is what I say, and I truly mean it. Because their happiness and pleasure in this is more and better, finally, (to my mind) than any derisive carping I could do about their choice of way of being.

If you approach the idea of finding books that have the things you want (if you could do this, but given your background and history that might nigh be near impossible perhaps :biggrin: ) without the idea of VEFE, you would find them. Many. Many. And that, then, would be the reality.

:wink:

And finally, to get back to the point of the original story that we are supposed to be talking about, I enjoyed it. Just plain simply enjoyed it. :smile:

Edited to absolve the honest casserole and define the other.

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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Hi project .

First can i say that i do greatly enjoy your posts.

But i have a few questions, and i may point out that i left school at the tender age of 16 , and English literature ( and it`s critisism ) are not my strong points. i was out learning how to cook and other aspects of the restaurants trade instead.

In your post you you are saying that music means nothing and literature is less than music. correct ?

If so where does that place the critisism of literature ?

Also, i will probably get round to buying the book in question, and will no doubt enjoy it , as the factual cookery books of which you speak and hold in high regard can get a bit boring after the first hundred, they elcipse what i refer to as the " James Bond syndrome " seen one, you`ve seen them all.

As a profesional Cook i will relate to the authors experiences. ( maybe not The French WashHouse) in a way that i would find my reading not to be an escapist fantasy experience, but some thing more rooted shared experience or the pusuit of a common goal. where in the acronym soup of VEFE and literary critisism does this place me ?

These are just my thoughts btw, i have little emotion invested in the book ( yet ), the author, or its critisism , but a do have plenty for the industry and way of life that its portraying, and also loads of emotion invested in music too, which is something i`m glad we share. Albeit of different genres me thinks.

My condolences, also, on the loss of your wife.

tt
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  • 4 weeks later...

In my estimation, one can not underestimate the power of vicarious learning. Does one have to have direct experience to appreciate the lessons learned from said experience? I find this genre of writing (is it truly fiction?) informative and enjoyable. It is not simply pulp fiction, it is the biography of a man that we may know the current result (or outcome of the story) but the plot twist details are unknown.

The stories we read as children may be fiction but often times they teach lessons as well. Cindarella teaches us that hard work and kindness can be rewarded while bad deeds will be punished in the end.

I agree that there are a great number of books that are pure escapism, but to compare this book (or genre) to something akin to Nora Robert's books is to do a disservice to Mr. Psaltis's efforts and in a way, his life experiences which he is sharing.

FWIW

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It was my mistake near the beginning to use the word "fiction" in reference to the book, Genny.

I was just getting tangled up in trying to respond to what project said. Why that should happen I have no idea. :wink:

From what I have now been told, the book is defined as "autobiography" or "memoir".

And yes, a worthy thing to hold and look at and ponder as "path". Aside from all the rest of it. :blink:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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