Loaves & Fishes

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It happened! The Great ‘Quake we've been told to prepare for (but which nobody has) strikes southern California. A Richter 8.2 event on the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault has created a huge fissure between the RDF Media offices and the Junkyard Wars compound.

Being British, the only American food the RDF executives can abide is bread & butter sandwiches. If they don't get some within the next ten hours they will surely die and Junkyard Wars will be canceled. (Come on, work with me here.)

Fortunately, tucked away in a corner of the JYW shop are cans of wheat, cakes of yeast, COMBS of honey and, oddly enough, five gallon containers of milk from the Alta Dena dairy (unpasturized, unhomogenized).

The JYW contestants volunteer to grind the wheat into flour, mix the flour into dough, bake the dough into bread, churn the milk into butter and deliver the bread & butter sandwiches across the fissure to the RDF executives.

Of course, they'll need to build an oven to bake the bread, a churn to make the butter and something to grind the wheat into flour. And figure out how to get the honey out of the comb. The dough must rise, the oven must heat and the bread must bake so a key element in this challenge becomes not only the fabrication chores but the SEQUENCE in which the tasks are tackled.

The fissure is fifty yards wide. And since the office staff is such duffers, they've rigged a tarpaulin to catch the bread & butter sandwiches... which may arrive in the form of loaves of bread weighing approximately one pound each... and cans of butter, weighing about the same. (Let the lazy sods do their own slicing & smearing.)

And the fishes? That was just a red herring :-)

Robert S. Hoover

PS – We tend to take our daily bread for granted but it is actually the tip of a technological iceberg that begins with cultivation and harvest then carries through its milling, baking and delivery. The most technologically adept person on the planet fails the fundamental test of survival if they are unable to feed themselves.

Just to keep things on the up & up the bread must be leavened and suitable for human consumption in every way - no baked flour cannonballs allowed :-)

And it must be delivered in an edible state - no soaking it with water to improve its ballistic coefficient.

-- Robert S. Hoover (veeduber@pacbell.net), February 17, 2001


I like cheese and you need help!!!!!

-- Danny McIntyre (Aceflyer419@aol.com), February 17, 2001.

Now that's what I'm talking about!

Coupling ingenuity with flare!

-- Dan Denney (rustrenegades@hotmail.com), February 17, 2001.

i want what he`s smoking!........c`mon robert......share with the rest of us !

-- tim (milehiharley@hotmail.com), February 18, 2001.

tim (milehiharley@hotmail.com) wrote:

i want what he`s smoking!........c`mon robert......share with the rest of us !

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Dear Tim,

When it comes to television, herbs & spices are allowed.

Imagine the incredible difficulties the producers face in providing a visually entertaining vehicle for their message. It is difficult to sustain viewer interest and generate steadily increasing tension through the construction phase. Do less and you run the risk of having the viewer jump ship, to return for the grand finale.

In the Loaves & Fishes scenario the construction phase is graduated into a series of steps each of which overlaps the next. For example, the yeast must be cultured in sugar water (or honey-water, in this example) before any other task is started. Then the grain must be converted into flour. There are several ways of doing this but the task itself must be accomplished quickly so the baker may commence preparation of the dough. Then the dough must be allowed to rise. (Indeed, given the many tasks that must be accomplished in the time allowed, a key factor in this scenario is the fact the yeast would go on doing its thing during the mandatory one-hour lunch break.) Once risen, the dough must be baked and once baked the bread must be delivered.

Activate the yeast WHILE searching for components for the mill and churn. Fabricate the mill and commence production of flour WHILE searching for components for the oven. CONTINUE milling the grain WHILE commencing to mix the dough WHILE building the churn AND commencing fabrication of the oven. CONTINUE to mix the dough WHILE building the oven. Punch down the dough, separate into loaves and allow the loaves to rise WHILE searching for components for the delivery system. The baker could be churning when not tending his loaves WHILE the other members are constructing the delivery device, which would be...

The clearly illustrated message is that baking bread is not a trivial task and the vehicle for that message is a steady sequence of actions. While each step leads to and overlaps the next I assume the producers would insert elements of added visual interest – yeast can do some strange things, as Charlie Chaplin proved – and a smoke-signal message from an oven is never good news.

Deciding the winner of such a rumpus would be difficult. The winning team would probably have a uniform distribution of skills or a superior ability to delegate its combined skills. Measuring how many loaves and pounds of butter were delivered would be one method but the quality of the delivered product should also be a factor.

Cathy as Mum

One method of scoring the competition would be to borrow an idea from Lewis Carroll and hold a tea party. The male host, with an expert (perhaps the food critic from the ‘Frasier' television show) could sample the bread, offering comments on its flavor, texture and aroma, while the female host could act as Mum, serving tea to an eager circle of challengers, each holding a tiny porcelain tea cup in their greasy paws, little finger delicately extended as they responded to Cathy's polite "One or two? Lemon or cream?"

This would allow the scoring to include not only quantity and quality but deportment as well, with farts, belches and inappropriate scratching earning gigs whereas politely passing the cucumber sandwiches to a member of the opposing team could get you a gold star.

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As General Sherman said, "War is hell." Junkyard Wars is even worse. It's television.


-- Robert S. Hoover (veeduber@pacbell.net), February 19, 2001.

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