"The rule for sustaining things is that you tend to do what makes most sense, and because you have the data to defend this argument. So, in a sense, the best and brightest in our world are usually put to work on optimization and are asked:

"Here's a problem, can you improve the way this works? Can you make a better engine, can you make a faster car, can you make a stronger building?"

And they would go forward and say: "By studying it, I can see a lot of inefficiency. I can see a lot of weaknesses. Lets tweak it this way and that way to improve it."

And almost every time you see an argument made for why to buy something, its that it is better by a certain amount. It's twenty percent more efficient, it's ten percent faster… And most people who are ambitious and smart will be very eager to solve these puzzles. They'll strive to do better than their peers. And that is really 99% of what most energy is spent on in the world: improving what we already have.

But at some point you run out of room to improve things. They just get so good they can't get any better. Thats where we have to step aside and ask: can we make it different, instead of better?

I don't have great advice on how to make things better, how to sustain. It's what excellence is all about. just be excellent and you will succeed.

But to be successful when things are already beyond great… then excellence is not enough. You need to actually be inspired, and to be crazy." -Horace Dediu

"There's a great deal of schizophrenia in the envronmental efforts. It's not a true I-and-thou, relationship. It's a me-and-you. It's an almost implicit condescension because we can't forget we're nature, too. As much as a bear or any other natural creature is, we're nature. So you can't separate yourself. You're either intimate with the natural world, or you're not. And you can create the distances, all sorts of distances, by a sort of philosophical condescension. I remember when somebody told me they went to Montana and they thought people would be far nobler there because of the beauty of the surroundings. I said, 'That's not the way it works at all.' Because you assume, you know, you can go to Shangri-La, and you can make it banal in a day through your own self immersion. It depends on you. You don't get anymore out of a place than you bring to it, I don't think." -Jim Harrison

"A grease trap is a big box that collects all the nasty from your restaurant before the water goes out to the street. It’s a huge box of putrid water covered in a thick layer of the foulest death-grease imaginable. It is the dirtiest thing that exists. It’s an uncleanable thing a person will not understand unless a chef has shown them how to clean one.

Back at another restaurant where Fred and I used to work, there was a grease trap underneath the dish pit. A deep one. A fucking Jacuzzi of a grease trap. One night I was working and I saw water start to spread across the kitchen floor: backed-up toilet out in the hallway. Maybe it’s a simple plumbing problem, I hoped. But then a turd floats in, then a tampon, then toilet paper, and then I noticed the grease trap steaming up. FUCK. This is 7:30 and the dining room is full.

The first option, the win-the-lotto option, was jam a coat hanger down in the grease trap and see if it’s a plastic bag blocking it or something. (One time I found some sorry asshole’s underwear in a situation like that, but that’s a different story.) But it wasn’t. And it was now three minutes later and the restaurant wasn’t any less packed and there was shit water creeping up, so I did what you do if you want to go around calling yourself a chef: I took my shirt off and my friend and cook Alex held me by the ankles as I descended into the grease trap with the top half of my body.

My eyes were closed, and my mouth was closed. It was just muck. Fecal, bilious muck. And I put my hand in the drain and I pulled out who knows what—fucking pasta and flour and a nut of shit. I dug it out and heard the sucking sound of the trap emptying itself out and Alex pulled me out.

It was just like being covered in rotting corpse oil. It’s in your eyes and your mouth and your ears, and it doesn’t come off with just soap. I had to wash down as quick as possible, as best I could, and get back to cooking because the dining room’s full and that’s my fucking job. You’re thinking about how nice your duck is and I’m thinking about the shit that’s still down there deep in my ears.

The thing is: It’s not a command you can pass off; it’s an unpassable command. You can’t tell somebody to do an emergency cleaning of a grease trap. It’s inhuman. So you have to swallow your pride and forget about all the clothes and boots that you’re wearing and about smelling good for the next three days even if you scrub with a brush. You’re gonna smell like vomit. Congratulations, you wanted to be a chef.

And the guys who have worked for us who have taken the dive on nights when we weren’t around: those are 100 percent of the people who went on to own their own restaurants." -Dave McMillian and Fred Morin

"I just wondered how things were put together." -Claude Shannon

"When confronted with imperious conceit, fighting the good fight is not only the right thing to do, it can be a heck of a lot of fun." -Jack Edwards

"There are two spiritual dangers in not owning a farm. One is the danger of supposing that breakfast comes from the grocery, and the other that heat comes from the furnace." -Aldo Leopold in the Sand County Almanac