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June 30, 2006

Environmental Ethics

I'm not usually a huge fan of Science Friday, but today I'm really enjoying hearing about climate change, the greenhouse effect, and electric cars. I have always been kind of an enviro-cynic: I recycled when it was convenient, but never went out of my way to curb my carbon emissions or limit my contributions to the world's landfills. I have even criticized the environmentalist movement for being racist and elitist. But as I have becoming more God-conscious lately, I have been coming to see environmentalism as one form of tikkun olam. The world does not belong to me, I belong to the world. I know there is still a lot of skepticism about the imminence of global climate change, but it seems that, if we know that carbon dioxide is toxic to humans, and we have ways to limit its production, we might as well do it. Environmentalism becomes problematic, however, when people place environmental imperatives ahead of human needs for such things as health, nourishment, and shelter, or when it is used as a front for NIMBY-ism, as it often is here in Ann Arbor.

Posted by eklanche at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

I Need You

150 things you can do to build social capital

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Terminological Troubles

Yesterday David saw my blog for the first time and objected to my referring to him as my boyfriend, insisting that he is much more than that. And I agreed that, yes, he is more than that; in fact, he is my everything. But everything is not very precise.

So what to call him?

There are many accurate options, but none are quite sufficient. Boyfriend sounds too casual, though he is a boy (actually, he is a man -- I'm not a pedophile) and he is my best friend; lover is too much information, though I won't say it isn't so; roommate is not enough information, though we have been living together almost four years; partner sounds like we are in business together, which I suppose we are, given that we jointly own our house; accomplice sounds like we are committing crimes together (I'm taking the fifth on that one); fiance is accurate -- we got engaged on January 1, 2004 -- but sounds pretentious and always begs the unanswerable question: "so what's the date?" (unanswerable because of the complicated mess that is at the intersection of my academic and financial life); mentor is true, as I often make my best decisions by asking myself what David would do, but I have other mentors as well; former co-worker is also true -- that is how we met -- but I also have many of those; finally, lifesaver has been true on more than one occasion. I guess he isn't quite my everything because he is not my parent or sibling (that would just be gross). He is not related to me in any way, but today he is my family.

So I guess the easiest thing is just to call him David.

Posted by eklanche at 10:49 AM | Comments (1)

June 29, 2006

Dictionary Whore

One of the coolest things about my boyfriend that he taught me to use dictionaries. Not how to use them (I learned that in elementary school), but to use them, as in he taught me the value of looking up words I don't know, or even words I do know. He also brought several dictionaries into my life. The first year we were together, I planned to give him the Fourth Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary because he had told me that he coveted it. But my birthday is a week before his and he stole my idea, giving me the College Edition of the AHD. I still went ahead with my plan, so we now have one upstairs and one downstairs, in the dining room. This is a very handy place for it because we frequently need to look up words during dinner. His old dictionary is now in the car. One might ask why we would need a dictionary in the car, but trust me, we use it. Often.

Here are two pairs of words that I have been curious about lately:

immanent: 1. Existing or remaining within; inherent. 2. Restricted entirely to the mind; subjective.
transcendent: 1. Surpassing others; preeminent or supreme. 2. Lying beyond the ordinary range of perception. 3. Being beyond the limits of experience and hence unknowable. 4. Being above and independent of the material universe.

identity: 1. The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitively recognizable or known. 2. The set of behavioral or personal characteristics by which an individual is recognizable as a member of a group. 3. The quality or condition of being the same as something else. 4. The distinct personality of an individual regarded as a persisting entity; individuality.
alterity: The state or quality of being other.

These pairs appear to be antonyms: immanent, or internal, is the opposite of transcendent, or external. Identity, or sameness, is the opposite of alterity, or difference/otherness. But the third and fourth definitions of identity appear to contradict each other. The fourth one suggests alterity: identity is not only the quality of sameness, but also the quality of difference. Alterity is thus immanent to identity, which explains the dialectical relationship between the two, or the impossibility of one without the other. Because you are not me, you and I can't be the same unless we are different from someone else.

Posted by eklanche at 03:08 PM | Comments (0)

Confessions of an Ex-Foodie

Lately I have had a lot less patience for grocery shopping, which means that my cupboards are growing bare. As the clutter disappears, I find things I forgot I had, such as a bag of turkey in the freezer, left over from Thanksgiving. That's right -- seven-month-old turkey! I had some last night for dinner, and it wasn't bad. Granted, it wasn't very good, either, but definitely edible. More tonight!

Along with the turkey, I found a chicken spine that I had put in the freezer at some point with the intention of making soup. Today I have no desire to make chicken soup, so it went in the trash.

I'm glad that I didn't find the turkey until after acquiring the microwave. It really is a one-use appliance: the only thing it is good for is reheating leftovers. But since all I eat any more is leftovers, it is just what I need! I did also use it to cook some beets yesterday. At least, I thought they were beets, until I started cutting them up and found that they were red-and-white striped!

Posted by eklanche at 02:58 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2006

Setting Free the Books

Yesterday I released three books into the wild. I have been intrigued with the concept of Book Crossing for quite a while now, but was always too busy to hunt for books and too possessive to release my books. Lately, however, I have been learning how good it feels to dump stuff that I no longer need or use. And stuff that I have never used, such as my fondue set, which I gave to my ex-boyfriend as a graduation gift. I also shipped a novel to my mom and some cookbooks to a friend in Los Angeles. But these methods of getting rid of stuff are expensive: I bought a fondue cookbook to go along with the fondue set and spent $12 on postage. But releasing books into the wild is free. It takes a little time to download the labels and register the books, but then you can just leave them anywhere. I also went hunting for books last week -- two books were supposedly released on Main Street near Cafe Felix, but I didn't find them. The books I released yesterday were ones that my boyfriend and I had duplicates of, and they are at Cafe Verde. Happy hunting!

Posted by eklanche at 04:45 PM | Comments (0)

On Foot

One of my favorite things about living in Ann Arbor is that I can walk almost everywhere I need to go. Or at least everywhere I want to go! And I love being out and about and running into people I know. It makes my world feel just a little bit smaller.

Posted by eklanche at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2006

Things I Need To Do But Don't Want To Do

1. Put my summer clothes in my dresser and my winter clothes in the basement.
2. Clean the floor.
3. Grocery shopping.
4. Read for prelims.

Posted by eklanche at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

Turning My Life into an Open Book

I have no idea yet what will appear here, but I look forward to finding out.

Posted by eklanche at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)