Saturday, April 29, 2006

I can't say about death, and taxes are in, so right now it seems as if nothing is sure except paper deadlines and the fact that Kidgit is going to comment on this blog... But as we are self-involved in the first of those sureties, life continues to swirl and swirl around us. While we can't be much more specific than that right now, please pray for us through the coming months as we try to find equilibrium again. As we find ourselves in process, as seems our most "stable" state, your friendship and God's strength alone are our guiding stars, thank you!

In other, more upbeat news, we have just found a new way to waste time on the internet... Warning--those of you with lots of books and little time, don't read farther, you most likely will regret it--though you will have an unbelievably fun time before that regret strikes! is a book cataloguing website that allows easy, free entry of up to 200 books in a personal collection, allowing you to "tag" books with helpful categorization (fiction or 18th Century Women's Literature--depending on your pickiness!), and also gives you reccomendations from other, real users who have collections similar to yours (Kinda like Amazon's reccomendation, but a whole lot better, believe me!). Anyway, I'll stop gushing and let you see for yourself--but remember my warning; I'll assume no responsibility for missed classes, meetings, meals... you get the idea.

Curious? Here is our library!-Y
Concerning this engaging conversation about the merits and failures of Robbin Williams, Slate has this posted a review of his latest train-wreck, RV. Check it out if you're interested to get in on this. -M

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Dara just sent me a picture from our visit with her a month ago, so here is a beautiful shot of Lake Ontario, and The Beach. Makes you want to jump in, eh?
I drink warm milk. Right before bed, or in the middle of the afternoon to just relax me, take the chill off, whatever. I know, it sounds a bit gross and maybe a bit more "old-grandmother-ly," but hear me out.

My creation of this delicious beverage is very particular. That is, it follows particular steps, not that it is particular at all in its measurements--but hey, it still is me, after all! I have found, however that the very steps that eventually produce the finished product can be soothing in their own right. Maybe you'll see what I mean as I write--or maybe you will have to try it yourself...

You have to start off with a mug full of cold milk. Then, when you pour in the slug of vanilla extract it first sinks in a single stream right to the bottom and then mushrooms up to the top again, coloring the milk a warm and welcoming tan color. Nuke-ing the vanilla milk for a minute or a minute and a half will get you the warm milk, but it isn't nearly done yet.

The sprinkle of cinnamon comes next, but this is no insignificant step in this process. You see, when the first particles of cinnamon hit the warm beverage, they spread out as thin as possible, trying to cover the entire top of the milk, but never sinking to the bottom. I have grown to have quite a fondness for this characteristic of the cinnamon. But that's for later.

The next ingredient was a suggestion by Mike. The first time he tried my warm milk he did kinda like it--with one addition--nutmeg. So, I guess this is a Mols' original, not just my own. When the first tiniest bit of nutmeg hits the protective cinnamon spread sitting on the top of my warm milk, the cinnamon begins to crack. I have never tried it the other way, so I don't know if it would also work in reverse, but who likes that much nutmeg? and anyway it would destroy my analogy!

As you probably would guess, for this to truly be a delicious, relaxing drink, a teaspoon of sugar is a must. When you stir in the sugar with the now-cracked cinnamon covering and divisive nutmeg, both the nutmeg and the cinnamon seem to dissapear into the quickly moving white cyclone. As soon as the spoon halts, though, so does the assumption that the spices would easily dissolve into the liquid. The cinnamon rises up and attempts again to keep the high ground and spread its goodness over the whole surface of the drink, but this time in more definite clumps than before--the strain on it was too great to stay as spread as it was in the beginning. The nutmeg, however, doesn't show itself again as it had before.

Ok, before I get into my clever analogy, there is some complaints from the peanut gallery--aka Mike (sorry to mix metaphors). I, in no way, intend to identify any person with any ingredient. Mike's addition to the warm milk creation was gratefully recieved and very important. The nutmeg gives it a spiciness that it would have otherwise never had, and I could now never go back to the way it was before that suggestion. Again, I repeat, the personification of the warm milk ingredients in no way relates to real people, any resemblence is coincidental, but hopefully inspiring...

So, for the much awaited (or maybe not) metaphor, which is probably already way too obvious: I see cinnamon as taking the high road--making connections across all the possibilities it can, but never separating from those who made it what it is. Cinnamon is resilient and seeks this high road even through great adversity, where some closer and more lasting connections are made (the visible clumps). On the other hand, the nutmeg only splits what has already been made, highlighting weakness and exploiting them until they become cracks. Once its work is done, however, it descends in obscurity--losing its specific identity. As for the other ingredients, the milk, vanilla and sugar--I'll leave that up to you, my readers--try your own hand at a warm milk analogy!

Thought for the week: What kind of warm milk ingredient are you? (50 points for answers that promote discussion, 75 points for new analogies and answers...)

Other thought for the week: So, do the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs or do the prettiest birds sing the silliest songs? (100 points to the first person who gives it a answer, a wherefore AND can place my obscure partial allusion here...)

Friday, April 14, 2006

So he shall startle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate. -Isaiah

I'm not sure what one can say when one seems to have nothing which can be said. The difficulty, if not impossibility, of expressing or reducing thoughts and experiences to language, especially to words, is increasingly the subject of my contemplation. Many of the meaningful thoughts and non-spoken/written reflections I have seem to overflow in abundance beyond the capacity of language.

Paul Ricoeur has provided me with some helpful tools understanding this aspect of a "worded" existence, so to say. Language has everyday uses: I tell you that I see a bird flying. Basically, someone is saying something about something to someone. But what does it mean for me to tell you that my heart is a soaring bird? Or that I am a dead bird on a cold day? Or that someone is cold? My heart is not literally a bird or really soaring, I am not really dead, an a person may not be experiencing bodily temperature fluctuation. But in transgressing the bounds of language, in stretching it and in a way misusing it we open our world of communication and understanding to new possibilities. Someone is still saying something about something to someone, but in many instances we break the rules of the dictionary to really say something about our experiences. This non-dictionary saying is often meant to shock and surprise others—leading others to (hopefully), a new view of the mystery of reality or at least further contemplation together of the realities most meaningful experiences. In other words, it explodes the established meaning in order to say something new.

Is this just me rambling on about foolish philosophy garbage? Maybe... but what does it mean that the kingdom of God is like a man going on a journey... or that the kingdom of God is in the midst of us... or that just as we are all like sheep, so also is the Lamb of God. Our goal is to understand these things, each other, and ourselves, but when we simply attempt to capture meaning, tame it, and put it in a dictionary, we kill it, and take away the "real" meaning altogether. Our hope for meaning is that we can move beyond meaning.

Does this mean that I'm excused from writing papers? Unfortunately, no. Just because communication is always hard work doesn't mean that we can escape from it... -M

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

For those of you with lingering doubts about our (well, at least MY) radical geekiness, let me put them to rest. First of all, I am using "radical" in its original meaning--"root"--not its 80's meaning of... well, you know. There are SOME geeky things that are even beyond me.

In a blog that is about our adventures in TORONTO, one would expect non-stop exciting tales about delicious, exotic restaurants, hopping clubs, breathtaking sights... But, in a blog about US in Toronto, you are going to have to settle with the everyday, but no less exciting (sometimes) tales of home-cooked vegetarian fare, holy week at St. Anne's Anglican Church and libraries at the University of Toronto. Leaving aside our daily bread at home and church, I wanted to acquaint all of you with the campus libraries of our dear University of Toronto. Don't leave yet! There really is a point!

The University of Toronto is home to no less than six Colleges, each from a different denominational background. St. Mikes is Catholic, Wycliffe is Anglican, Victoria is affiliated with the United Church, Knox with the Presbyterian, Regis with the Jesuits, and Trinity with the high Anglican. Anyway, each one of these small, lovely colleges has its own library, specializing in its particular tradition, but that also has books of general interest. Each one of these libraries is immaculately designed for not only a studious experience, but also an aesthetic one. As ICS students, we are allowed borrowing privledges at all of them. And of course, University of Toronto's own... Robarts.

Robarts is a 13 floor (yes, it has a floor thirteen, I am on it at least once a week) mostrosity of a building, designed in the sixties/seventies and the inspiration for Umberto Eco's *In the Name of the Rose* (I haven't read it, but I plan to this summer--you'll see why in what follows). For those of you who haven't read it and want a picture, Mike says, "From the moment you walk in your nose is assaulted by a stench of indeterminate origin, you are confronted with surly and unhelpful staff, half the time anything mechanical or computerized is broken, you are all but strip-searched to get into the stacks. Once in the stacks, after waiting an eternity and a half to get in an elevator that has a four in five chance of being broken, you squeeze down the claustrophobic row of seemingly endless, obscure books with no particular order to them as you squint through the dim and horrible fluorescent lighting, emitting a constant buzzing hum, which gives you a headache. If you are lucky enough to find the book that you need, which is truly a miracle, you had best get it back in plenty of time before it's due, because as often as books are lost in the shelves, they are lost in the book return. It truly is a monument to what happens when economists and mathematicians run wild with building projects." Everyone hates Robarts. If you are looking for another opinion, you could find about a thousand up here, but they would all sound about the same.

Now that you have a bit of the lay of "Library-land", I suppose it would surprise you (hey, it surprises me every day!) to know:

I can only work in Robarts.

While Mike is sitting reading away by the fireplace in an overstuffed chair in an acoustically savvy, hardwood floor room at Trinity Library, I find myself only really productive sitting in a partially broken, hard-backed chair in a graffiti-covered cubicle on either the 9th or 13th floor. I don't want this to be the case. I tried reading in those overstuffed chairs at Trinity, writing on the top floor of Victoria's library--overlooking the amazing striking art they hang. I can only account for my boorish-philistine-ness by claiming distractedness at the obvious aesthetic qualities of the other buildings. What else could it be?

As paper-writing season is in full swing, I have a feeling I am going to again get real cozy with the ugliness of Robarts--what can I say? it works for me! Though going into next year, I welcome any suggestions about interventions. I don't think this can go on much longer... Am I going to have to keep a "the ugly room" at home, too?

Thursday, April 6, 2006

Thinking, as I have been of late, almost exclusively: "What am I going to write my course papers about this term?" has kept me from something suitable to post, though I have been meaning to for several days. Because we want to keep this blog accessible and about our LIFE (this is not MyMolseyThoughts, afterall--though that might be a future development...), I have hesitated sharing with all of you what I have been THINKING, though in light of experiences yesterday, and Michael's and my conviction that philosophy (and thinking about philosophy...) comes out of life and experiences, I now write. Whether it lives up to my lofty expectations, well, that is for you to decide.

As I mentioned in opening this post, my life (and dare I speak for Mike's as well?) has been preoccupied with my thoughts--an occupational hazard, I suppose, for graduate work in philosophy--of my coming papers. Since we would really like to have them (eight between the two of us...) done before we head back to Illinois in the beginning of May, I am beginning to feel the crunch. For those of you that don't know me well, this usually means that I become singularly focused to the extreme until I meet my goal. My agenda for yesterday, as should therefore be no surprise, was packed to the limit with visits to numerous of the University of Toronto Libraries, reseaching articles online, reading and taking notes on various texts, etc. I am proud to say in retrospect that I accomplished very few of those lofty (yet important) goals. I started off fairly well, but upon visiting the Institute for lunch and Wednesday Worship, I "fell" into several exceedingly "unproductive" hours of not visiting libraries, not reading, not taking notes...

I put the two negative words in quotes, since I refuse to see those hours (as I am tempted to) as wasted. In fact, I am convinced now that my very attitude that my conversations yesterday afternoon were more important than any textual work I could do gave these many conversations the fruitful quality that they ended up having for me. Instead of (alone) researching paper topics that I was confused enough about, I talked to, engaged with people that were essential for me to clarify what I really wanted me to do, thereby giving me direction for the solitary research work that was to come. By sticking to my singular focus (Research, Read, Write!), I would have not only damaged relationships with people I care about, but also would have actually (ironically, or maybe not so...) wasted time, by direction-less-ly pursuing papers that I had no idea how to go about.

I am not going to sit here and tell you that I am ready to go, write my papers and be done (as one part of me still secretly hopes). And, I am not going to tell you that this was an easy realization to make (how often have I neglected relationship to pursue my GOAL?). I am going to say, however, that this relational learning together, this kind of practicing of philosophy, is something that I want to keep practicing, beyond paper-writing season (is there a beyond?), and through the rest of my life. As I am reading currently in Hannah Arendt, thinking is essential in its culmination in moral action--getting stuck in thinking for the sake of thinking more (as I was in my focus on finishing papers) is of little worth if it is not connected to others and action.

I realize with this post that I am risking turning this blog into a therapeutic tool (as Mike seemed to begin last post...what's wrong with that?), but for those of you who care enough to have read this far, you deserve to know our life, which for now, will be some of our thoughts as well. We are not always on the grand Toronto adventures of last week, or the traveling adventures that are past and coming soon again. But we are still here, thinking (actively!) and writing, wanting to be in connection to all of you. So, till next time, Y