Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
3. Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon
4. Anatomy of Criticism by Northrop Frye
5. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
6. The Political Unconscious by Fredric Jameson
7. Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes
8. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
9. Phenomenology of Spirit by G.W.F. Hegel
10. White Noise by Don DeLillo
11. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
This is a second list of books that I will read this year, but which I have not read before. I anticipate them having a similar effect.
1. On Liberty - J.S. Mill
2. Goldbug Variations - Richard Powers
3. You Bright and Risen Angels - William T. Vollman
4. The Pale King by David Foster Wallace
5. Minima Moralia by Theodor Adorno
Saturday, November 27, 2010
For this paper, you will define a particular problem close to you (one here on campus, at work, or in your home community) and propose a specific solution. The action should be one for which you can provide ample reasoning and supporting argument. Keep in mind that not only is it important to present your proposal coherently and persuasively, but it should also be a proposal that has a realistic chance of success.Aside from practicing how to write an argument, it is of course my goal to encourage students to effect change in their lives. Too often we ignore small problems and not make anything happen. I have students writing on a range of topics--from installing more recycling bins in their school to fixing potholes in their neighborhoods. Overall, the proposal is usually their most successful essay, not just because they write it late in the semester, but because they are invested in the issue. I always advise students to revise proposals after I have graded them, and to send them off to their intended audience--after all, they'd have nothing to lose, and their proposal would already be written. I suspect that not all my students actually send their proposals off, but even if it's just one or two from a class who take that initial action, I think it's worth me teaching for two weeks of the semester.
In addition to writing proposals, my classes also view and read a number of texts that propose action. We start of with "A Modest Proposal," read "My Amendment," and watch "The Story of Stuff." The latter is an ambitious, but very necessary project--and a proposal, too. I know that I have a soft spot for stick-figure animation (as in, Don Hertzfeldt's work), and I know that's part of the reason why I like "The Story of Stuff" so much. But of course, I also like Annie Leonard's explanations, thoroughness, and urgency. It turned out that this year I showed the video two days before Black Friday--in class discussion it was clear that even if some of my students don't plan to halt their holiday shopping completely, they were going to be more thoughtful about it.
And I, too, have been thinking about it more. I've seen "The Story of Stuff" at least six times (in preparation for class discussion, and once for every three of my sections of composition), and each time I get something new out of it. The last time around, I really zeroed in on "...recycling will never be enough..." And yes, Leonard urges, yes recycling is good, but it doesn't address the core of the problem. If you haven't seen the short video, I encourage that you do--and maybe you'll take something away from it, even if you're already aware of the state of the planet. Leonard is empowering, in a way, and although her proposal offers a very large problem, I think that she is effective in inciting her audience towards a solution.
Friday, October 29, 2010
The day passed and it was like every single other day in the last ten years: it was easy, it was natural, it was good.
In those early days when veganism was difficult and most folks had not even heard of the concept I had to be much more vigilant. The world now is a little more accepting of vegans.
I won't let this carry on too long.
I mainly wanted to jot a quick note to give the day a nod because I recognize that the decision to become vegan was one of the most important ones I've ever made. I cannot conceive of my life differently.
I am very grateful to my wife for sharing this aspect of our lives.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Our choices are not isolated incidents, they are powerful decisions that create a ripple effect on the rest of the world. What we choose now sooner or later has a direct impact, not just on ourselves, but on many others and the whole planet. Sometimes what we choose is influenced by habit or what makes us comfortable. To step into our power of choice is to be consciously aware of why we are making a choice and to be present to its impact.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Sunday, May 30, 2010
"Eating is an action with consequences beyond a single individual, and it should be a conscious decision with awareness of implications, with every meal."
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The Urban Land Scouts are a new group helping modern urban people become better stewards of the land and communities where they live. Membership is open to all.Also, here are the core values of an Urban Land Scout:
These are also the ten levels of the Urban Land Scout, and you can see the logical progression--from observing and identifying to harvesting, sharing, and composting. What I especially like about ULS is that it's a project with built-in accountability on several different levels; yes, the project itself is about being mindful of our (urban) environment and connection to food creation. But also, in order to earn a badge, each of the scouts has to document the achievement and report back to the site. One of the tenets of the group is to share information (to blog about it!), resulting in wider awareness of the project and its goals.
1 – The Urban Land Scouts looks at the land daily; he is observant of and attentive to it.
2 - The Urban Land Scout tries to identify and use the plants in her neighborhood.
3 - The Urban Land Scout seeks to cultivate native or edible plants in whatever soil he can access and tend.
4 - The Urban Land Scout is fed by the land in which she lives.
5 - The Urban Land Scout makes an effort to grow vegetables.
6 - The Urban Land Scout plants and cares for seeds.
7 - The Urban Land scout shares information freely and teach others what she knows.
8 - The Urban Land scout is lucid, patient, and rooted in the land where he lives.
9 - The Urban Land Scout composts with the help of worms.
10 - The Urban Land Scout shares her harvest.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
- Follow the rule "if it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down"
Using this method, we've reduced the number of times per day that we flush the toilet. Both of the toilets in our house are 1.6 gpf (gallons per flush), so we save approximately 6.4 gallons of water per day just by letting the yellow mellow.
- Save captured water from the dehumidifier.
I've done some research into safe use for water captured in this way, and there aren't a lot. Most sources I found say that water from this source in not potable and should not be used to water plants grown for food (I've read conflicting information on that last part, but we decided against taking the risk). One website suggested using captured water in the iron, but we had been capturing a full bucket every day or so (1.5 gallon capacity) and only refill the water in the iron about once a week. When we first got the dehumidifier we were dumping out the water because we didn't know what else to do with it. I finally came upon a solution. I turned off the water to the toilet in the bathroom that I use more and use the captured water to flush the toilet. This is easier than it sounds. When the water is turned off, the tank does not refill after flushing. Rather than keeping a bucket in the bathroom that the pets could get into, I've started pouring the captured water into the tank so that the toilet will flush normally. This move cuts in half our already-reduced waste water usage.
- Rain barrel to water plants.
We have not purchased our rain barrel yet, but this will be our next big purchase after we get paid. A rain barrel costs between $80-100, has a screen over the top to limit the debris in the barrel and a threaded spigot at the bottom for attaching a hose. This summer we hope to completely eliminate using water from the tap to water our plants.
- Shower water reclamation.
When Kat first told me about this idea I was skeptical but the idea has grown on me. Again, this is an idea which we've talked about but haven't yet begun. The idea is to put a bucket or other receptacle behind yourself in the shower. The bucket will catch water that would normally just run down the drain. Like the dehumidifier water, this is unsafe to drink or water plants, but it can be used to flush toilets as well.
- Toilet tank volume reduction.
Putting brick in the toilet tank reduces the volume of water used per flush. This effectively turns a normal toilet into a low-flow. I don't know the exact change in volume, but this is a way to reduce water consumption that is completely effortless.
With these changes, we hope to see a dramatic reduction in water usage in our household with a minimum of extra effort. These changes are all rather easy and only require a slight bit more work than doing nothing.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
We'll make posters and put them up around the neighborhood to make sure we're not taking someone's cat. He's quite tame, as you can see, and climbs into my lap at every opportunity.
Oh, and as you can hear, he has the tiniest little voice!
Also: we just happen to have a room that doesn't have furniture in it because our landlord fixed some bad floors and put carpet in.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Veg-O-Rama is a great place to pop into for a bowl of home-made chili and a sandwich. They have good specials and make their food from wholesome ingredients.
The reason for this post, however, is that I am now making desserts for the restaurant. It's nothing too grand as of yet--the owner and I talked it over and decided that we'll start small and see how people like it--but I feel rather priviliged to be offering baked goods to them. Besides, it feels very good to get paid for something that I love doing. The things I brought there are a dozen Coconut-Lime Cupcakes and a half dozen of PB&J mini pies (Celine's recipe!). I encourage everyone here in Knoxville to visit Veg-O-Rama and support their business, even if you don't end up buying dessert. Since I moved to Knoxville, I have already seen a couple vegetarian-friendly places shut down, and I don't want to see that happen with this one.