Sunday, August 30, 2009

Crazy-busy Day.

And I loved it. Canning. Cleaning. Rearranging. Gardening. Hiking. Cooking. De-cluttering. Listening to Ken yammering. OK, that last part- not my favorite part of the day. Gotta say it- the kid's driving me slightly bat-shit. But all in all, good times. He's getting a hang of picking up after himself, a major feat considering how much of a issue it is to try and get Dwight to pick up after himself. Ken even has been helping fold his own clothes and put them away! We still need to work on the folding, but he is only three and a half, right? Plenty of time.

A few things that I've bumped into the past few days and wanted to share (and finally have the time to post). If you'd like a little help wading through the misinformation on health care reform, Consumer Reports Health has put out a concise fact sheet/FAQ's page to start you out.

Feeding America is sponsoring a foodbank competition for Hunger Action Month, so you can go on, find your local (or favorite) food bank and do a little to help them out in their work feeding those in need.

Hobbit-ish Thoughts and Ramblings has a great little "contest" going, which I thought I'd spread around (thank you, Mrs. Gamgee for suggesting this!). I really had to- I love hobbits, and I have been meaning to spend more time on my creative side lately, so here goes.

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me, especially for you. I'll even give you a voice- just list a preferred craft in the comment (not too specific- something like knit-work, scrapbook stuff, etc.). You get something you (might) like, and I get a creative outlet, win-win!

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make but I hope you will.

2- What I create will be just for you.

3-They say I have a year to get it to you. But I promise it will NOT take that long.

4- You have no clue what it's going to be. It’s a surprise to both of us at this point.The catch? You must re-post this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog.

So the first five people who post, and are willing to pass it along,will get a handmade gift in the mail from me.

When you get it, make sure you post a pic on your blog! Let's have some fun! If you want to comment, but don't want to participate, just end your comment with "Thanks but no thanks."

And, to the Kentites, the Plum Creek issue has now been scheduled in front of a council committee on Wedsnesday, Sept. 2 at 7 pm. Bodies there would be helpful and because it is a committee, the public will be allowed to speak (probably 3 min limit), so come out and voice your support for Alternative Three!

To finish up, one of today's projects. Ken's bento lunch box (our first attempt) for his first day at the Kent State Child Development Center.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ecological Philosophizing

Purpose - the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc. or an intended or desired result;end;aim;goal

Role - proper or customary function: the teacher's role in society.

Worth -
usefulness or importance, as to the world, to a person, or for a purpose: Your worth to the world is inestimable or value, as in money.

Humans have this need to assign these values to things, and we often do so unthinkingly. Far too often, these three words are used interchangeably, when in fact they all have subtly different meanings and implications. Whether we talk about an organism, another person, a job, or an item, we make decisions about them based on their purpose, role, and worth.

Take, for example, a person. In most cases, we allow a person's purpose to be self-ascribed because their purpose is their reason for existence. Only an individual knows or has a feeling about why they exist, although we may joke that a certain person's purpose is to annoy or something similar. There's a certain thought process and evaluation behind a purpose. A person's role (or roles) are defined by themselves and society. A person can be a parent, child, sibling, worker, boss, volunteer, whatever. It's what they *do* in their life, and sometimes gives insight to their purpose. A cleric has the purpose of living for their deity, and expresses that by joining the clergy. Another might have the purpose of helping others, and so becomes a doctor or social worker. A person's worth is a tricky matter, possibly the trickiest of all. There is their inherent worth as a human, for which many philosophers have tried to ascribe a dollar value, since (especially in the US) we measure worth with monetary units. There is the added value they bring to society, in the form of earnings, consumption, savings, and investment. All of those are pretty straight forward. And then there is one's worth in relationships- as a friend, mentor, parent, partner, etc. Again, difficult to quantify.

Inanimate objects are easy to evaluate using these criteria. We humans ascribe the purpose for which they were designed, the role they will play, and their worth. There is a creator, or re-creator in the case of re-purposed goods, that assigns the values of these various traits.

But what about ecosystems and non-human organisms? An ecosystem can't think as it's not a single organism, so it can't self-ascribe a purpose, leaving the other option to let a creator ascribe the ecosystem's purpose. But who or what is the creator of an ecosystem? Ecologically speaking, the "creator" of an ecosystem is a function of the environment and the communities within that ecosystem. Here I feel I should point out that I am speaking from a scientific-philosophical approach, not a theological-philosophical approach because proof of an ultimate Creator is scientifically impossible- there is no test to prove or disprove one's existence- and thus it's a matter of faith, which varies from person to person and is not objective. The role of an ecosystem can be ascribed be humans, as roles can be defined by not just the item to which the role refers, but others whom share a relationship with said thing, and humans most definitely share many deep relationships with ecosystems. Worth is still difficult to ascribe, as it is partly subjective, and difficult to quantify the many areas in which an ecosystem has worth (ecological services, recreation, aesthetics, etc.).

On to other non-human organisms. They are living, and may have the sentience to ascribe their own purpose, but would have no way with which to communicate said purpose to us. Not to mention the fact that we, as not-their-creators (except in the case of GMO's) and as not the organism, don't have the right to ascribe a purpose to another organism. The argument that an organism's "purpose" is their place in the food web is a fallacy of logic, as an organism evolves in the direction of maximum fitness. This means that organisms evolve away from predation in most cases, and would be evolving away from their "purpose" if food chain position were a true purpose. An organism's place in the food chain, can however be considered a role, as roles are not just self-ascribing but also circumscribed by others, and those roles may or may not be something that we desire (consider the worker in a fast food service trying to pay their way through college to become a nurse, e.g.). An organism's worth, as with all worth, is difficult to quantify and hard to assess.

Thus, when we consider endangered species protections, to which organisms are they granted, the protection of ecosystems and the environment, and other ecological quandaries, "purpose" should rarely, if ever, enter the equation, although role and worth are definitely things to consider.

So what's the purpose to this post? I, as the creator of said post, have ascribed it the purpose of "productive waste of time." Cheerio!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And Another one!

Same site, but with wooden toy give away.

On a Lighter Note!

Check out the drawing over at Things Moms Like! For all the newly pregnant, and soon to be pregnant chicas, this is a great chance to try Belly Bar products for free.

Friday, August 21, 2009

On Sovereignty

I feel compelled to put down a few thoughts on the compassionate release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from a Scottish prison. There has been quite an uproar against the release of this man, the only convicted perpetrator of the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. Al-Megrahi was released because Scotland has a clause which allows the release of an inmate when they are shown to be in the last months of their lives, so that they can spend their dying time with family in their home. This release of a terrorist has sparked great debate, some people even going so far as to claim al-Megrahi may become a suicide bomber once he is back in Lybia. The few pictures I have seen of al-Megrahi do not appear to be someone who would be capable of any terrorist act in his current condition. He is suffering late stages of prostate cancer, and is estimated to have three months to live. The issue was even important enough for President Obama to speak out against this action by the Scottish legal system.

The upset is not at all the issue of where one should spend their last months of life. The latest number that I have heard is around 70% of Americans want to die at home with family (what this compassionate release allows for), although only about 25% actually do. In theory, we don't have a problem with dieing at home, although functionally it seems we don't know how to make this wish a reality. But let's save that conundrum for another occasion, shall we?

The inconsistency I want to talk about today, as the title suggests, is that of sovereignty. In the last few years especially, the US has exercised our right to sovereignty many times. Wiretapping of questionable legality? It's our sovereign right. "Secret" interrogation sites in various countries? Our sovereign right. Holding individuals without charge and possibly outside Geneva conventions? Our sovereign right. Aggressive interrogation methods, the same as those for which we have charged other countries with war crimes in the past? Our sovereign right. Preemptive strike? Our sovereign right. See a pattern here?

However, when we look at the US's interactions with other countries just in the past few weeks, the picture is very different. The ability to exercise one's own laws without interference from another country? Not a sovereign right. The current administration has "expressed repeatedly...that Megrahi should serve out his sentence in Scotland" and Secretary of State Clinton and the White House have both been putting pressure on Scotland not to abide by Scotland's own laws on this matter. There's also the recent Swiss banking to-do which basically gets UBS to disregard Swiss laws in favor of helping the US collect names of Americans who have funds at the Swiss bank UBS. Of course, we can't forget the incursion on Iraq's sovereignty in 2003 as well. Apparently, only the US has sovereign rights that deserve protection from outside influence. I had hoped that our method of relating to out nations would change after the election of Obama, but that hope is starting to wear thin.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bandwagon jumping

Normally, I don't understand sports and avoid them at all costs, but I make exceptions for Frank Deford, as I did today. He's a sports columnist, so what on earth would he have to say that would interest me? Well, he was talking about a theme that seems to be in the ethos lately- the disappearance of August. Don't worry, you don't have to go check your calendar, August is still scheduled for the 31 days between July 31st and September 1st. But it's changed. Drastically. I remember August fondly. It was a fond time. Time for bike-riding, swimming, climbing trees, reading, stomping in puddles made by the frenzied flash thunder storms that whipped up in August. All the things that wouldn't be able to be done in September, once school started. But those days are gone. Now I work in August. Everyone works in August. It's time to frantically prepare, wrap up, finish last minute tasks, and review the plan for the fall term. The pace has changed. The feel has changed. Even the taste of August has changed with the odd timing of vegetable crops this year. The sound has changed with the odd weather and its repurcussions for frog and insect calling. And the storms aren't the same either. They're not as passionate, violent, quick, rejuvenating, and so apologetic afterwards. Frank Deford's words were spot on. And I'm adding my voice to those who miss August.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Missing- One Blogger

I have to first off apologize for being MIA for a while. It's been crazy busy here on Rancho Insano. Mostly family demanding time that I don't have and my desire to meld both artistic and academic endeavors. Oh, and the Invasive Species Conference at UConn. Oi. Vey. Add in an exciting new friendship that is blossoming, gardens that need tending, house that needs cleaning, and projects that need completing, mix well, bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and voila! One frazzled me. Cool, slice, and enjoy. Best with Pinot Gris and French Vanilla frozen custard.

Kidding. Please don't eat me.

I just need to figure out how to clone myself and I'll have plenty of time. Or learn to say no. Either one. Really, it's OK, don't send out the men in white coats just yet. I've also been suffering some horrible insomnia, so that adds considerable time to the day in which to get s*&% done. School is still a while off, so I have time to keep cranking stuff out before the term starts. I love the pressure. Thrive off of it.

And (spoiler alert)- how in the h&#@ is Captain Jack a Dad?! And a Granddad?! He's easily the hottest bisexual grandpa ever. Love BBC.

I'll be back to more regular blogging shortly, and I promise to be in full swing for ICLW in a few days. How is it that time already? Any ideas for a new intro this month? What are other people doing?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Battle of Plum Creek Park

The Kent Parks and Recreation Department, along with the City Engineer's office held a community meeting last week about what to do with the stretch of Plum Creek that runs through the parks by the same name. The Record Courier (inaccurately) covered it in this story. Basically, the culvert through which the creek passes under Mogadore Road is in poor condition, and in need of repair. There are four alternatives, ranging from doing nothing to repairing the culvert, removing the dam, and restoring the stream (Alternative 3). Alternative 3 would include minimal cost to the city both short and long term, thanks in part to stimulus money and money for the water improvement that this project would bring about. Also of note is that this dam is one of the few remaining impediments on tributaries of the Cuyahoga River, so removing the dam at this point would help to improve water quality of the Crooked River. You can see the plans in the pictures below, just click on them to see the full size.

"If this project is such a no-brainer, where's the battle?" you might ask. Well, on the other side of the creek from the park. There are a number of houses which lie across the stream from the park right now, and the homeowners have expressed concern about flooding (which will decrease with the improved stream function, but they don't see that), and trespassing on their property. One homeowner apparently has already found a pistol in his back yard, and this is before the improvements (mind you, he admitted it was never reported to the police- me thinks me smells a fish). These same residents would most likely see an increase in their home value thanks to the improved park, but I haven't heard any of them mentioning that. Restoration of the stream should also limit the number of Canada's Geese and mosquitoes there, by restoring some normalcy to the functioning of the stream- both of which are good things for aesthetics- but alas, not being mentioned by the home owners.

My son and I frequent Plum Creek Park, and you can bet we'll be there even more the next couple of weeks (gathering signatures to present to city council in support of Plum Creek Park Alternative 3 while we play, in case you're wondering). There's a great diversity of people that come to the park- all income levels, lots of different cultures, babies up to senior citizens. Not to mention the ball fields as well. If you want to see a great park made even better, and the greater city of Kent benefiting in numerous ways, might I suggest you come check us out at the park? And if you feel like doing something good, feel free to write to your city council member and let them know you support Alternative 3, or let me know and I can provide you with a pre-written letter.

Also, stop by Kitchen Stewardship and see a couple of fun prizes she's giving away.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My first award!

So, I got my first blog award. Still sorting out my feelings on the matter. Honored, of course. But who to pick? To what blogs do I pass this distinction? Hmmm- newly discovered. How new is new?

Well, here goes! First, a big thanks to Kelli, this really made my day.
The rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award" are:
Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
Here are a few new blogs I discovered. Check them out, they're lovely!

1. Garfman
2. Meg
3. Robyn
4. Emily
5. Dave
6. Rachel
7. Pamela Jeanne
8. Irish Girl
9. Old Mill (Just admire the pictures)
10. Sprout
11. Farmer Jake
12. Chadwick
13. Kelly
14. Epicurean Athlete
15. Judy

To the observant sleuth, there's an Easter egg in that bunch. Can you find it?