Top Secret Recipe: Jambalaya for 50

Step 1:  Ask all your students to assign you books. If you don't have students, then wing it.  Read about 150ish of them.  Turn away from the world and fall into dystopias and wonderlands and freakanomics.  Don't cook. This is important. Do. Not. Cook. Instead, just sit quietly reading books. Do not do any community service. Remain at this step until you literally can't stand reading another book.
Step 2: Buy ingredients for jambalaya. Vegetables, rice, sausage, etc. If you don't know this part then just wing it. Onions are your friends. Long grain rice is too. At least they're my friends, and I'm pretty picky about who I hang with.
Step 3: Get out pots and pans and knives and bowls and chop and then cook. I don't want to be all bossy and controlling, so I'm letting you wing this part too. If you have a bunch of time to play, you might want to carmelize onions and whatever vegetables you think should go in jamabalaya. Season and roast pork/bacon/shrimp/chicken/etc. Take as long as you want. I've made this step last two days. Can that be our secret?
 Step 4: Make rice. Bonus points if you can do it the microwave. Double bonus if you own a "rice cooker." Triple bonus if you deploy a box or two of Zatarains jambalaya mix in your rice and keep it a secret.
Step 5: When you get the guts up, mix the rice and all the chopped up pieces of roasted meat and all the meat juices. Put in the the fridge. Or in the oven. This is a free country.
Step 6: Add cheese. Or not. Add more spices. Or not.  Taste it (definitely) and fix it up.
Step 7: Figure out how to deliver a boiling hot pan of jambalaya across town without spilling it. Decide to buy things that grown ups use to deliver food (??? must research) but for now, improvise by carrying it in an old box that looks friendly and helpful.
Step 8: Deliver. Serve to Veterans who might not otherwise have a homecooked meal  (this is CRUCIAL* do not skip*). 
Package up the leftovers and hand them out. 

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Book #28: Who Moved My Cheese?

BOOK #28/100 that was assigned to me to read by my students in 2015

When You See Beyond Your Fear, You Are Free 
Subtitle: Imagine this is about a 1988 MTV VJ
Sub-subtitle: MouskaAWESOME

The first time I read this book I was around 2004 when I was a displaced PhD working at NCCJ, a not-for-profit that fought bias biogtry and discrimination.  I kept up my "history habit" by making my work password "professor," teaching night classes at a bunch of colleges across South Florida (and yes it's true I love teaching so much I showed up to teach one week after giving birth, much to the shock and chagrin of my students who might have preferred happy hour to World History).

Before reading this book I already knew that basically a person can spend 15 years preparing for one career and find out there are just no jobs as history professors, period, move on with your day today and deal with it.

I loved this book the first time I read it, and I'm glad I had the  chance to read it again.

The lessons come from graffiti-scribbling non-mice people named Hem and Haw (omg enough said?).

For them the Cheese isn't Cheese, it's whatever GETS the cheese for them (power, respect, security)

So here's the story.

Sniff and Scurry the mice notice the cheese is running low at Cheese Station C, so they find different better new cheese at Cheese Station N and go off in their Angelina Ballerina lives.
They're mice.
They live in reality.
The world changes, change with it.

One day Hem and Haw show up at the cheese station and see there is NO CHEESE.
Hem and Haw aren't mice. They're people.
So things are sooooo much harder for them.

So the day after the day they find there is NO CHEESE, Hem and Haw go back to the same place. Dorks.

Now they get agitated.
They DESERVE cheese!
The cheese has ALWAYS been here!
They are angry and irritable and hungry.

Haw says to Hem, lets go and find new cheese before we DIE.

Hem says NO! This is what I KNOW! I have to go HERE because this is what I KNOW so it's what is INTENDED for me.

(Meanwhile I'm thinking if HAW checked in on foursquare of facebook SOMEONE would tell him to get himself somewhere else, but this book was written before Social Media, back when writing sayings about Cheese that became a poster was COOL and I have it under GOOD advice that many corporate "Trainers" used posters like this to help people deal with reality....)

So anyway, Hem and Haw are starving and weak and keep going back to the same place, the place the cheese used to be, and the cheese isn't there and basically they're crazy.

Then Haw starts laughing at himself. YAY!

He wakes up from his delusion that doing the SAME thing will bring NEW results and writes on the wall: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"

 (After that he writes lots of things on walls -- this is before Facebook, when graffiti was the "best option" for mass education of immediate simple ideas)

For the next week Haw goes off on the proverbial Hero's Journey where he faces adversity and gains wisdom.

He finds cheese, not much, but enough.

And when he tastes it he realizes the cheese he USED to eat really sucked, so he writes on the wall that people should "smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old."

 Smell the cheese. This makes me giggle but I keep my grown up face on and finish the book.

Haw learns to encourage himself, writing "When you see beyond your fear, you are free," and learns to use his imagination to ENCOURAGE himself instead of scaring himself.

He learns that the act of IMAGINING ENJOYING the NEW CHEESE would bring him to the new cheese and that the quicker you let go of the old cheese, the sooner you have room for the fresher, better cheese that will bring you joy.

That's right out of the Law of Attraction and I love it x 1000000000.

So Haw brings cheese to Hem and Hem (starving, still going to the place where the cheese used to be) has this green eggs and ham moment and says he WON'T try the cheese and he wants the OLD SAME cheese that he LOVES.

Haw encourages his emaciated friend to realize he is in a cheeseless situation and to go look for some freaking cheese.

Haw starts to expect good things and tries to imagine them, then goes off to look for them and finds them.

OId beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.

Finally Haw is stuffed in a cheese binge with a bunch of other non-starving people who found the cheese AGES ago accepts that the universe is always changing and that change is a GOOD thing so he   asks everyone to toast "Hooray for CHANGE!"and they all live happily ever after.

Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.

Laughing Yoga Frog 6: "The professor thought that the world is a perfect place, created by a perfect creator whose imagination is unfolding."

1). What did the professor do in the office after she got the frog?
A). The professor placed the laughing yoga frog down on the corner of her desk, unpacked her computer turning it on afterwards.

2). What did the professor compare the laughing frog to ?
A). The professor compared the frog saying it was like the statue of liberty placed among kindergarten play dough creations.

3). What was the question the professor asked Alex  and what was his response?
A). The professor asked Alex if he was ready for his exam and alex responded saying yes that he's never felt better about an exam.

4). What does the lucky rock given to Alex say and who was it given by?
A). The lucky rock had the word believe etched into it and the lucky rock was given to Alex from the professor.

5). What did the professor think about the world?
A). The professor thought that the world is a perfect place, created by a perfect creator whose imagination is unfolding.

Question to You
1). What inspired you to write this book and how long did it take ?
 It was the week before Christmas and I hate shopping and I love writing so I wrote the book super fast so I could give it to my mom for Christmas. I think it took two evenings and an afternoon

2). Do you still have the frog to help your students if needed?
The frog from the book lives with Alex, but I have other frogs. The universe is full of treasure ;-) 

Laughing Yoga Frog 5: "It wasn't very frogilicious like her beloved silent yoga-tastic frog"

1. Describe the Yoga Frog as seen by the professor.What was her reaction when she first saw it?

The Yoga Frog was dark green and it stood in a perfectly balanced tree pose with its hands folded in its heart in prayer while its entire head was thrown up in the sky in a broad smile.When she first saw it, she froze then proclaimed her delight.She loved it.

2. Explain how the professor ended up buying the frog.

The professor went to Cracker Barrel the third time to have some eggs which she had been craving for some time.When she got there, she went to where the frog was and realised that it was gone.She went and sat at a table and had her meal but she was sad.When she went to the counter to pay, she asked the cashier whether they had some more Yoga frogs and the cashier pointed to one at the back of the store.The professor quickly went to pick up the frog and bought it before she lost it forever.

3. Why did the professor carry the frog to her classes?

The professor believed that the frog would help her students during exams.She also wanted to teach her students a valuable lesson.The story of the frog inspired her belief that what the universe intends for you, you will receive.The frog waited for her because it was intended for her.

4. Did the professor want anything for Christmas?If yes, what did she want?If no, why didn't she want anything for Christmas?

The professor didn't want anything for Christmas.She was so excited that she had finished writing her book, Prayer of The Laughing Yoga Frog.The satisfactionof finishing something was enough for her.

5. Why didn't the professor like Bugger the Lucky frog?

She said it looked tough and cold and hard and intimidating and she wouldn't even look at the frog in the eye. It wasn't green nor was it funny.It wasn't very frogilicious like her beloved silent yoga-tastic frog.

1. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in our book? 
Change anything I did? Or what I wrote about? Neither, I guess. I live with my eyes forward, you know? I'm open to this book being expanded one day. Alex and I were working on a book before he moved and maybe we will finish it or add it into this.

2. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I got the email saying my book published while I was at Outback Steakhouse. The waiter was an ex-student who had taken a picture with the Yoga Frog. I start getting all excited and teary eyed and my waiter is jumping for joy and my kids are like "that's nice" and asked for more honey butter. The hardest part of writing this book, of any book, is probably letting it go, being done and moving on to the next story. I wiped my tears of joy and ate what little honey butter the kids left me and then wrote stories about other things.

PS ---> Bugger died after 4 months. Sad. Not.

Laughing Yoga Frog 4: Did Reggie get prosecuted?

1.     What was the name of the young man who stole out of Alex bank account?
*Answer: Reggie was the man that stole from Alex’s bank account 

2.     What’s the name of the frog, the professor got Christmas?
*Answer: The frog’s name was Bugger

3.     How much was the price slashed before the professor brought the laughing yoga frog”
*Answer: The price was slashed 80%

4.     What did Alex dream?
*Answer: Alex dreamed that the frog wanted to come live with him
5.      What was Alex’s major in school?
*Answer: His major was Theatre


1.     Did Reggie  get prosecuted? Yes. And he has paid restitution.

2.     Did you check with Cracker Barrel to see if they had another laughing yoga frog, before giving him the one you had?  Nope. I just let it go.

Laughing Yoga Frog 3: "Frogs start out as tadpoles and change into something they didn’t intend to become"

1.    Where did the professor find the Yoga Frog? How did she react after finding it?
The frog was found at Cracker Barrel and the professor was intrigued by its stability, balance, and strength.
2.    Why is the professor so interested in frogs?
Growing up the professor’s mom told her a prayer in Spanish that related to changing into something else as they grow. Frogs start out as tadpoles and change into something they didn’t intend to become, but they can leap into a new life and when you lose something, you always gain something else even if you don’t realize it right away.
3.    When did the professor get the second frog? Who did she get it from? How did she react?
The professor got her second frog for Christmas. It was a gift from her children because she loves frogs. She was not very enthused because it was a stern business frog; it wasn’t fun like the yoga frog. Her kids explained that it was to help the professor jump into the next part of her life; the professor was not thrilled because she is happy where she is in life now.
4.    What did Reggie do to Alex and how did this affect him?
Reggie was the person who took Alex for his tests and helped him academically to make sure he is safe on campus. Reggie was somebody that Alex could trust and he betrayed him. Reggie was stealing from Alex and this lead Alex to be bitter and hostile to new people and not want to open up to anybody new in his life.
5.    Why did the professor start taking pictures with her students? How did this benefit Alex and his family?
The professor began taking pictures with her students when she was informed that one of her students had passed away. This was beneficial to Alex because it helped the police identify Reggie when he was being prosecuted.

Questions for Professor Soldani

1.  Do we really get rocks after our exam? Yes. LOL, apparently this is a BIG concern. I'll come through, I always do. 

2. Do you still speak with Alex? He moved out of town a year ago, and last semester my students sent him boxes. We've spoken once in the past few months and right now I'm trying to arrange another chat. 

Laughing Yoga Frog: 2 "What the universe intends for you, you will receive.”

1)    What did the frog statue symbolize?
·      The frog statue was a symbol of what is for you will not pass you. As said in the book, “What the universe intends for you, you will receive.” The professor walked away from the frog twice before purchasing it. However, on her third visit it was still there waiting-and on clearance at that. The frog brought her joy because it was intended for her. The frog waited for her and was intended for her.
2)    Why was it important for Alex to forgive Reggie?
·      If Alex were to not forgive Reggie, he would be consumed by anger and revenge. All though what Reggie did was awful, he is paying for his crimes through the justice system. It was crucial for Alex to rise above what happened to him, and not be a victim. Alex instead needed to be an advocate to prevent this from ever happening to him or anyone else. Instead of being consumed by revenge Alex needed to forgive.
3)    What main ideas/ themes are expressed in the book?
·      A prominent main idea expressed is that the universe has something in store for everyone. What is for you will not pass you, even if you avoid the thing twice before coming back to buy it.  Also, do not become a victim to anything that has happened to you. However, do forgive those who have done wrong against you, or you will remain a victim, and be consumed by anger.
4)    How can this book be applied to you?
·      Coming into college, we are asked to make some pretty major decisions. What do I want to do for the rest of my life? What is right for me? I can’t get enough of what the author said in the book “What the universe intends for you, you will receive.” So that gives me peace at heart that what is for me will find me. It will be fantastic.
5)    What would the professor not write about and why?
·       The professor refused to write about a victim and an angry man. The professor refused because Alex was bigger and better and that. Alex was a good guy and she did not the book to be about what happened to him. Instead the book was to represent who Alex was as a person.

Questions for Dr. Soldani:

Do we still get lucky rocks? Definitely. Of course!!!! And your rock has been patiently waiting for you for the bast billion years, so I can only imagine how happy it will be to meet you*

Did the professor ever master the pose?
 Yes. I do it during lecture sometimes. Watch.