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Kitchen Nightmares! (A review for all episodes)

Just finished watching the “Pantaleones” episode of Kitchen Nightmares and it totally blew my balls off! I thought there was no way in hell this stubborn owner was gonna change his ways, boy was I wrong. After a heart to heart with the fam, Gordon got these folks hooked up with a brand new menu and some killer decor for their dated restaurant. 

 I figured now they were on easy street to fast money and city-wide accolades but there were a few more wrinkles in this tragic drama. Yea I’m talking about relaunch night folks! The pressure is on as Gordon oversees the action from the sideline. Just like Napoleon at the foot of the Pyramids, the way home was lost and this family had to press on or be forever devoured by history. 

Things started off well enough but as the pressure began to build so did the cracks in this tightly knit family business. Shit really hit the fan when the family began to argue vehemently and point blame in all directions. Orders were coming out late, the crowd was growing restless, the end was nigh. 

Just as I’m about to give up hope, BOOM, Gordon steps in to gather the troops. He brings the entire family into the alley for a impromptu pep talk and that’s when the magic happens. Suddenly the family is born anew with clarity and purpose. The crowd goes nuts as dish after dish of hot delicious chow comes rolling out the kitchen!

Bravo Mr. Ramsay! I don’t know who changed more from this experience, was it me? Perhaps it was that humble family from Colorado that started all those years ago with nothing but a dream and a whole lotta love. Either way, we’re all forever in your debt. 

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The Post Christmas State of Dad

Just got back from the 2015 post Christmas dads conference, what a hoot. I’d like to thank Lance and Big Billy for their generous hospitality and as always, thanks for the snacks, sorry about the furniture.  

The holiday season is a wonderful time for families to get together in confined spaces for extended periods of time, to share their love and get reacquainted with each other’s lives. It is only after these family gatherings have concluded that the brotherhood of fathers gather to discuss “the state of dad”.  

We covered so many topics this year and I wish I could write about them all, unfortunately time demands that I stick here to the airing of grievances. Listed below we have a few of my chosen highlights, the complete list will be available in my final report only after the final council approves. 

Without further ado, let it be known here and now that it has been agreed upon, sworn to and proclaimed law, that from this day forward, for all current dads and their posterity to come, during Christmas and other mutually observed holidays:

You cannot bitch about what’s on TV unless you are willing and able to commandeer the remote. 

It is impossible to direct and advise the proper assembly of toys from across the room or on the couch. 

Surround sound is NEVER a bad thing, even if it scares you. 

If you have a problem with the music selection, see above. 

Don’t like my gift wrapping? Do it yourself. 

You want me to take down the Christmas lights? Well that’s sure as shit not how I planned on spending my Spring Break. 

Put the food in a serving dish after I cook it you say? Great, now we got 2 sets of dirty dishes for one item. 

Sure honey, I’ll try that shirt on for your folks, just let me finish this brandy first.  

Of course I still fit in an XL! It’s the perfect gift. 

Oh for Christ’s sake Beatrice, I don’t care how young the kid is, I won’t allow that commie bullshit in my house. 

And last but not least, When I was his age by golly!!

In closing, I’d like to take a moment  to acknowledge some of the dads we lost in 2015. 

RIP 
  
 

  

  

  

  

  

  

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Thoughts from Ignatius Reilly (John Kennedy Toole)

 Popular quotes from A Confederacy of Dunces. 

“…I doubt very seriously whether anyone will hire me.’

What do you mean, babe? You a fine boy with a good education.’
Employers sense in me a denial of their values.’ He rolled over onto his back. ‘They fear me. I suspect that they can see that I am forced to function in a century I loathe. This was true even when I worked for the New Orleans Public Library.

Apparently I lack some particular perversion which today’s employer is seeking.” 

 

“It smells terrible in here.’

Well, what do you expect? The human body, when confined, produces certain odors which we tend to forget in this age of deodorants and other perversions. Actually, I find the atmosphere of this room rather comforting. Schiller needed the scent of apples rotting in his desk in order to write. I, too, have my needs. You may remember that Mark Twain preferred to lie supinely in bed while composing those rather dated and boring efforts which contemporary scholars try to prove meaningful. Veneration of Mark Twain is one of the roots of our current intellectual stalemate.”

 

“You could tell by the way he talked, though, that he had gone to school a long time. That was probably what was wrong with him.”

 

“I avoid that bleak first hour of the working day during which my still sluggish senses and body make every chore a penance. I find that in arriving later, the work which I do perform is of a much higher quality.”

 

“Like a bitch in heat, I seem to attract a coterie of policemen and sanitation officials.”

 

“Oh, Fortuna, you capricious sprite!”

 

“Oh, Fortuna, blind, heedless goddess, I am strapped to your wheel,’ Ignatius belched, ‘Do not crush me beneath your spokes. Raise me on high, divinity.”

 

“… I tried to end our little duel. I called out pacifying words; I entreated; I finally surrendered. Still Clyde came, my pirate costume so great a success that it had apparently convinced him that we were back in the golden days of romantic old New Orleans when gentlemen decided matters of hot dog honor at twenty paces.”

 

You got a job?”

“Ignatius hasta help me at home,” Mrs. Reilly said. Her initial courage was failing a little, and she began to twist the lute string with the cord on the cake boxes. “I got terrible arthuritis.”

I dust a bit,” Ignatius told the policeman. “In addition, I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.”

 

“Do you think that I want to live in a communal society with people like that Battaglia acquaintance of yours, sweeping streets and breaking up rocks or whatever it is people are always doing in those blighted countries? What I want is a good, strong monarchy with a tasteful and decent king who has some knowledge of theology and geometry and to cultivate a Rich Inner Life.”

 

“I would very much like to know what the Founding Fathers would say if they could see these children being debauched to further the cause of Clearasil. However, I always suspected that democracy would come to this . . . “A firm rule must be imposed upon our nation before it destroys itself. The United States needs some theology and geometry, some taste and decency. I suspect that we are teetering on the edge of the abyss”.

 

“In the five years that he had dedicated to this work, he had produced an average of only six paragraphs monthly. He could not even remember what he had written in some of the tablets, and he realized that several were filled principally with doodling. However, Ignatius thought calmly, Rome was not built in a day.”

 

“The only problem that those people have anyway is that they don’t like new cars and hair sprays. That’s why they are put away. They make the other members of the society fearful. Every asylum in this nation is filled with poor souls who simply cannot stand lanolin, cellophane, plastic, television, and subdivisions.”

 

“By the time we had left the swamps and reached those rolling hills near Baton Rouge, I was getting afraid that some rural rednecks might toss bombs at the bus. They love to attack vehicles, which are a symbol of progress, I guess.”

 

“Perhaps I should have been a Negro. I suspect I would have been a rather large and terrifying one, continually pressing my ample thigh against the withered thighs of old white ladies in public conveyances a great deal and eliciting more than one shriek of panic. Then, too, if I were a Negro, I would not be pressured by my mother to find a good job, for no good jobs would be available. My mother herself, a worn old Negress, would be too broken by years of underpaid labor as a domestic to go out bowling at night. She and I could live most pleasantly in some moldy shack in the slums in a state of ambitionless peace, realizing contentedly that we were unwanted, that striving was meaningless.”

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Thoughts from Will Durant

“Every vice was once a virtue, and may become respectable again, just as hatred becomes respectable in wartime.”

“Sixty years ago I knew everything; now I know nothing; education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.”

“you can’t fool all the people all the time,” but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”

“The older Romans used temples as their banks, as we use banks as our temples;”

“It has been the one song of those who thirst after absolute power that the interest of the state requires that its affairs should be conducted in secret… But the more such arguments disguise themselves under the mask of public welfare, the more oppressive is the slavery to which they will lead… Better that right counsels be known to enemies than that the evil secrets of tyrants should be concealed from the citizens. They who can treat secretly of the affairs of a nation have it absolutely under their authority; and as they plot against the enemy in time of war, so do they against the citizens in time of peace.”

“But even democracy ruins itself by excess—of democracy. Its basic principle is the equal right of all to hold office and determine public policy. This is at first glance a delightful arrangement; it becomes disastrous because the people are not properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses (588). “As to the people they have no understanding, and only repeat what their rulers are pleased to tell them” (Protagoras, 317); to get a doctrine accepted or rejected it is only necessary to have it praised or ridiculed in a popular play (a hit, no doubt, at Aristophanes, whose comedies attacked almost every new idea). Mob-rule is a rough sea for the ship of state to ride; every wind of oratory stirs up the waters and deflects the course. The upshot of such a democracy is tyranny or autocracy; the crowd do love flattery, it is so “hungry for honey,” that at last the wiliest and most unscrupulous flatterer, calling himself the “protector of the people” rises to supreme power”

“This police supervision did not exclude coarseness and obscenity; the aedile wished to amuse the crowd, not to elevate it; and the Roman government was never displeased by the ignorance of the multitude. The audience preferred broad humor to wit, buffoonery to subtlety, vulgarity to poetry, Plautus to Terence.”

“Woe to him whom teaches man faster than he can learn.”

Will Durant

November 5, 1885- November 7, 1981


  

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The Day my Dad Caught Fire

I was twelve years old when I saw my father catch fire for the first time.  It was the summer of 1992 and I was hosting a sleepover for a couple of my grade school chums.  My father was also hosting a party, this one for a few bottles of Thunderbird, some cold Schaefer, and a few old Navy friends. It was a party that was destined to go down in flames.

The evening started routinely enough, us kids launching rockets from the end of Thor’s Hammer (an old section of PVC pipe used for fireworks) and watching as they erupted in the distance.  Many of the rockets were lost from sight as they traveled over to distant neighborhoods and foreign roads . It wasn’t until we heard the sounds of tires squealing and folks yelling that my father decided it was time for us to check in for the night.

The fellas and I retired to the basement for our regularly scheduled Street Fighter tournament while my father began to prepare us some fresh popcorn on the stove. It was about 30mins later when we began to smell smoke.  I was in rare form that night playing as my favorite Street Fighter, E. Honda, killing it with his “hundred hand slaps” and bringing glory back to the Sumo world.  I had just finished blasting Zangief back to Siberia when a few of the fellas mentioned that the smell was becoming stronger.

By the time my friends and I began to investigate it was too late. I was climbing up the stairs from the basement when I witnessed my father come barreling in from the back deck. He ran immediately to the stove and grabbed the flaming pot in both hands. He made it just outside the house when the lid gave way and a series of giant flames erupted from inside the large pot.

I still remember that look of pure terror as his body went up in flames like Nakatomi Plaza. At this point it was too late to turn back, he glanced over at me and muttered, “Alea iacta est”, as he pushed onward, pot in hand, flames engulfing his upper body.

Being the resourceful folks that we were, our house had been equipped with an outside shower that my father immediately utilized. It was while under the shower’s cool stream that he instructed all who could hear to start the Batvan and prepare for immediate departure.

While there was no official time keeper, most folks agree that my father’s run from cold shower to the driver’s seat took roughly 4 seconds.  After commandeering  the helm of his 73 Volkswagon Camper, we set course for the nearest hospital, or at least that’s what we thought.

Ten minutes later we pulled directly to the front entrance of our local 7-11.  Clad only in a pair of soaking swim trunks, he barged through the front door and made a bee-line for the cold beer section. After grabbing a 12 pack of heavy Bud, he proceeded to the front of a long, Friday night line and placed his beer on the counter.  Slamming down a 20 dollar bill, he then turned to the now hostile crowd and using his outdoor voice, he bellowed, “Listen up folks, we got an emergency situation here and I need these beers for medicinal purposes”. By the time the waiting patrons had any idea what was going on, we were already back on the road, heading towards the hospital.

Some witnesses claim 6, others 10, but nobody knows for sure how many beers it was.  What we do know is that a lot of beer got drunk on that short drive to the emergency room. After my father was checked in it marked the end of one highly eventful sleepover. It wasn’t until the next morning at check out, when doctors tried to prescribe Tylenol Three for his third degree burns, that shit would break loose once again.

Things started cordial enough as my father questioned the nurse about the doctors choice of pain medications. After informing him that the doctor’s decision was final and that no changes could be made, he continued to give protest until he was asked to leave the premises immediately. Thats when my father, heavily bandaged in the fashion of King Tut, advised the staff to phone the police because they were about to have a belligerent mummy tearing some shit apart. This comment seemed to strike a chord with the staff as a new prescription was written and everyone parted on good terms.

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Requiem for a Vernonburger

There are many good fathers who have thrown a game or two of basketball just to watch their child basking in the glory of victory.  Usually moments like this  create lasting memories, sometimes they come back to haunt us. This is a story about what happens when a benevolent spirit is taken for granted.

It all started in the summer of 2012, on a makeshift basketball court that was hastily assembled in front of fire station 31. The court was set on a hilltop that overlooked Bull Creek and the surrounding green belt. Lee Vernonburger, a fiery young competitor with a flare for the dramatic, had just bested me in a friendly game of 21. At the time I didn’t think much of it, just a simple game of ball between friends.  Sure, I pulled a few punches, let a couple of jumpers fall short but what’s wrong with letting the kid get a win for a change?

The moment we entered the kitchen  Lee’s mouth erupted in a series of taunts and jeers.  The classy gentleman I had known on the court had suddenly transformed into a drunken blowhard as soon as an audience was present.  Was I rattled by his outburst? Was I angered? Sure I was, but unfortunately I can’t say I was surprised.  It turns out not everyone possesed my ability to remain both humble and classy in victory.

In those days I was known on the court by two nicknames.  Sweet and Smokey or KC Masterpiece, both names described my game perfectly while also being two of my favorite BBQ sauces.  Lee was known simply as “The Leeasle” or as the ladies called him “Hey you in the bushes”.  When Lee approached me about a rematch I knew it was game on and time to put this Leeasle back in the bushes where he belonged.

When I arrived at work the next shift I was greeted by an extremely jovial Lee fully clad in an oversized Dirk Divinski jersey, bball shorts and brand new high top sneakers.  Lee’s mouth was running like a scatter gun, pieces of dried kale and Brussel sprouts spewing forth from his open pie hole. The game was to begin the moment equipment check and station business had concluded. A small crowd gathered near the hoop as people were arriving early to witness the riverbank showdown.

It was your standard game to 15, make it-take it, no blood-no foul, gotta win by two. Lee won the toss and started with the ball. After his lame attempt to charge the hole was denied, Lee tossed up a brick and watched as I crashed the boards and snagged the rebound.  That would be the last time Lee handled the ball that day.

The rest of the game was a blur of jump shots, finger rolls and broken dreams.  It was just after I had built up a comfortable 8-0 lead when a phantom injury brought Lee to his knees and brought a merciful end to my onslaught. Some have claimed that Lee was heard uttering the phrase “no mas” as he went down in the manner of Roberto Duran, succumbing to the pummeling of Sugar Ray Leonard.

Lee still claims to this day that he had broken a mysterious “sixth toe bone” in his right foot but medical professionals on scene were unable to verify the injury. In one of my typical showings of true class, I helped Lee to his feet and proceeded to carry his battered body and broken spirit back into the station.

The game became an instant classic and should have been just the beginning of a storied rivalry.  The problem is that the victory was too devastating, too one sided, it was a humiliating defeat that left both players feeling empty. I wanted to celebrate, I wanted to strut around the station rubbing Lee’s face in it like the cowering dog he was.  But alas it was your classic Pyrrhic victory, I may have won the day but in doing so I had destroyed a great man.

Never before have I spoken publicly about “the riverbank spank” but recent pressures have persuaded me to open up.  ESPN is currently working on a 30 for 30 production that will include a complete reenactment of the game. While Duane Johnson has already agreed to play my part, producers are still in talks with Paul Giamatti to play the part of Lee.  I’ll keep eveyone posted as things develop and leave you with the first single from the films upcoming soundtrack.

 

“Son of Jerry”

http://www.smule.com/p/180665499_36513624

 

Tentative stars of upcoming film.

Dwayne Johnson as Jim

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Paul Giamatti as Lee

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Eugene Levy as Kent

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Forrest Whitaker as Dennis

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Prison tramp from MSNBC’s lockup as Bo.

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Kevin James as Mike

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Mittens as Brad

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California Kitchen Nightmare

Well folks, it seems California Pizza kitchen has decided to switch up its packaging in a foolhardy attempt to save a few pennies. I’m guessing they hired some new Ivy league hot shot who is busy trying to leave his or her mark on an already thriving business. What is it about these narcissistic control freaks that they feel the need to shake things up immediately upon arrival?

I must have missed the press releases because this new packaging debacle caught me completely off guard last night. It was about 11:30 and I had just polished off my second snifter of Steel Reserve, placing me squarely in a CPK state of mind and ready for some BBQ chicken pizza. I tore through the packaging like a bear ransacking some campers’ unprotected food stash. I was just about to slap my prize into the microwave when I noticed the necessary pizza “crisping tray” was nowhere to be found.

What in the hell? Was I that drunk, what kind of shit is CPK trying to pull here? I stumbled over to the trashcan and dug the discarded packaging from the trash. After brushing aside some old coffee grounds I glanced down at a set of brand new cooking instructions.

Turns out the cheap bastards at CPK decided that instead of including a crisper, they would leave me with instructions for some absurd arts and crafts project. Do they really expect me to transform the box into a crisper by following a complicated diagram of cuts and folds? I was practically starving and surely in no state of mind to be performing origami miracles with leftover pizza packaging.

This my friends is totally unacceptable. It’s the kind of bullshit I would expect from Totinos pizza but their pies are about 1/4 the price of CPK. That’s because at the end of the day Totinos knows exactly what they are, a microwavable pizza, perfect for last ditch dinners and late night piggin. It seems they have gotten too big for their britches, this shit might fly in California but here in Texas we demand satisfaction.

I consulted with some of their PR folks and was kindly told that they recommend their pizzas be oven baked for optimal taste. Well no shit lady but when it’s damn near midnight and I got half a bag on, I don’t really feel like firing up the oven. I don’t want to bruise any egos here but if I have close to an hour to spend cooking up chow, your 4 dollar microwavable pizza is nowhere on my fucking radar. The gall of these West coast nouveau riche never ceases to amaze me.

I’m sorry for the language folks, I should know better than to write while I’m angry. I was hoping to write a flowery endorsement of CPK’s delicious new BBQ Chicken pizza but unfortunately that praise will have to wait. Being the reasonable man that I am, I plan to revisit this new “do it yourself” crisper contraption with a sober head and a clean slate tomorrow. I’ll keep you posted with any further updates.

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Thoughts from Eric Hoffer

“We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.”

“People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them.”

“When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.”

“Nonconformists travel as a rule in bunches. You rarely find a nonconformist who goes it alone. And woe to him inside a nonconformist clique who does not conform with nonconformity.”

“You can never get enough of what you don’t need to make you happy.”

“Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.”

“It is thus with most of us; we are what other people say we are. We know ourselves chiefly by hearsay.”

“One wonders whether a generation that demands instant satisfaction of all its needs and instant solution of the world’s problems will produce anything of lasting value. Such a generation, even when equipped with the most modern technology, will be essentially primitive – it will stand in awe of nature, and submit to the tutelage of medicine men.”

“Unless a man has talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden. Of what avail is freedom to choose if the self be ineffectual? We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, “to be free from freedom.”

“The sick in soul insist that it is humanity that is sick, and they are the surgeons to operate on it. They want to turn the world into a sickroom. And once they get humanity strapped to the operating table, they operate on it with an ax.”

“To most of us nothing is so invisible as an unpleasant truth. Though it is held before our eyes, pushed under our noses, rammed down our throats- we know it not.”

“The history of this country was made largely by people who wanted to be left alone. Those who could not thrive when left to themselves never felt at ease in America.”

“A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business.

This minding of other people’s business expresses itself in gossip, snooping and meddling, and also in feverish interest in communal, national and racial affairs. In running away from ourselves we either fall on our neighbor’s shoulder or fly at his throat.”

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The Old Man in the Ambulance.

My job as a first responder has given me opportunity to visit many of the homes of our most elderly citizens. I never know what to expect when entering these homes but several years of experience have taught me what to look for.

The first sign of an interesting elderly patient is usually the lack of a television in the living room. How many of us are treated to the memory of visiting elderly relatives who kept their televisions locked away? In many of the houses I visit, the living room is left solely for that, living.

I can still remember those days before television took over. When I was a kid, visiting our elderly relatives was both a unique and educational experience. This was during the time that the story tellers thrived, the folks who could command an audience while a lunch of buttered rolls and decaf coffee digested. Without the use of television, folks were able to capture and hold audiences solely by their gift of gab. How these performers could captivate the minds of the young and old back then will forever influence my thinking today.

The next thing I usually notice in these homes is the presence or lack thereof, a bookshelf. A poor bookshelf can usually be noted by the number of high gloss dust covers on display. There is nothing by Bill O’reilly or Al Franken that will find home on any reputable shelf. A good bookshelf is hard to read, several dull manuscripts with authors whose names are hard to recognize but whose accomplishments are world renowned. A good library will never give mention to the New York Times or any other best seller list.

I recently met an older gentlemen who was having trouble keeping his balance. On our first arrival it was a simple matter of placing him back in bed. When we returned a few hours later, his wife was insistent that he be taken to the hospital. I was unaffected by the situation until I saw the grim look on this 96yr old man’s face.

It was during the time that the fellas were gathering the stretcher that I noticed something that they had not. Just before they returned this elderly man of wisdom, a man who had lived through things I could only read about, began to cry. It was only for a moment but it was long enough to tear my heart to shreds.

This man had seen things that the history books could not explain. He was part of a living history that was dying every day. A story teller whose song was in danger of being left unsung.

It’s hard to watch our elder citizens, the holders of knowledge both current and ancient, being processed like cattle grown too sick for the range. I promised myself to never forget the contributions made by our elders, no matter what their current mindset may be.

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The Guru On The Mountain

This is an old story that’s been told a thousand different ways. I recently heard it on the radio when the host was speaking about sharing wisdom with closed minds.

A young man from New York travels to Tibet determined to learn the wisdom of the ages. After quitting his job, selling all his worldly processions and saying goodbye to his friends and family, he sets out to find a guru that will show him the light.

While traveling through the wilderness he comes upon a small shack at the foot of a large mountain. There is a small stream that works its way around the mountain and sitting beside this stream he comes upon the “old man of the mountain”.

The man is dressed in simple garb, he has a long gray beard that falls to the top of his tattered sandals. One look at the man and the traveler is certain he has the truth he’s been searching for.

Traveler: “Master, master! I’ve come a long way in search of enlightenment. Do you know what wisdom is master?”

Old Man: “Why yes my son, I know where you will find wisdom. Wisdom lies at the top of this mountain. If you go there you will find the truth you so desire. Once you reach the summit you must sit and meditate in silence, only after long self reflection will you become wise.”

Immediately the traveler sets off for the top of the mountain. After walking for several days he reaches the top and finds a suitable clearing for meditation. The traveler ends up staying on the mountain for several years, living off of bark, grass, bugs and whatever else he can find.

The traveler spends his winters near death as the temperature plummets and the howling wind tears at his clothes. It’s not until his fifth summer that he decides it’s time to travel back down the mountain.

When the old man sees the traveler again he can hardly recognize him. He has aged twenty years and looks near death. The remains of his clothing hang loosely on his bony frame. His face is covered in wrinkles and his beard has grown down to his waist.

Traveler: “Master, master! I found wisdom master! But first I must know master, what do you think wisdom is?”

Old Man: “Well my Son, wisdom is to always be humble and pious. To be cordial to your fellow man. To respect your elders and to treat others as you would like to be treated.”

Traveler: “What a crock of shit old man! You’re an asshole. Wisdom lies in the river you nutty old bastard. I’m getting the hell out of here, screw you!”

Old Man: “Yes, you’re right my son, you’re right”

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