Thursday, January 20, 2011

Baked squash, Bean soup, and more philosophy

So it turns out that our professor was just pulling a Socrates on us, and making us realize some of the contradictions in our thinking. Basically, my reaction was the same as Euthyphro's. I felt rather sheepish when I realized our similarities.

That being said, I am now completely loving the class! I'm thoroughly enjoying reading all these philosophers. We've just finished up Hume and are moving onto Kant today. Yesterday my professors unknowingly made a pun. He was talking about Kant's theory of consciousness or something along those lines, and said something about the "contours of the brain." However, what I heard was "KANTours of the brain." Ha ha! It was almost as good as Danny's famous "you KANT understand him" pun. Dear old Immanuel lends himself so well to name jokes.

I will be churning out an essay on Kant tonight on the role of Phenomena and noumena in his epistemology. We'll see how that goes. The idea of noumena kind of fascinates me...the 'being' of something that we can't perceive. Maybe it's just me, but any time a philosopher says something that we can't (KANT!) do, I immediately think "but what if we COULD? what would that be like?" I felt the same way when Hume claimed that we can't know necessary connection a priori, otherwise we could just pick up an object and just 'know' what kinds of effects it would have.

Wouldn't that be an awesome super power though? You could pick any plant and know if it had any medicinal properties or if it was poisonous or something. Forget Supergirl or Wonder Woman, I would be Necessary Connection Woman.

Speaking of superheroes, I felt like one this past week, because I did some real cooking! And it WORKED!
I should define what I mean by real cooking: either creating a recipe myself, or doing some improvisation off of another. This week I did both! My first success was baked butternut squash.

I'll admit that butternut squash is kind of one of the easiest things to make delicious, but it still felt like a victory for someone who a day before ruined a batch of box brownies. I managed to ruin brownies from a BOX. I'm sure somewhere, Martha Stewart was crying.

Anyway, I baked up that squash with a little oil in the bottom of a glass baking dish, then I sliced some butter on top and shook some brown sugar on top. Then I put it in the oven at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes, till the squash was soft. Then I cooked up some rice and mixed it all together.

A few days later, I made some ham and bean soup from a recipe on a bag of mixed beans I bought. I left out some ingredients, and because of time constraints, I had to figure out how to get the beans to soften quicker, so I consulted Google, and several sources said that boiling them furiously sometimes did the trick. So, I took a risk and did that, then simmered on medium low (level 3) instead of on the simmer setting, hoping that it would cook faster.
IT WORKED. It even tasted like my mom's ham and bean soup. It was like the day I learned to make a fried egg, like I passed one of the tests for being an adult.
So far I think I am doing well on these tests, at least the ones that have come up so far.
  • Making a fried egg --  check
  • Wearing/owning a thumb ring -- check
  • Making ham and bean soup -- check
  • Ability to drive a stick shift -- in progress. I have already melted some tires, so that's out of the way.
  • Being financially savvy -- not even close
  • Having a real job -- do I have to?
  • Living on my own -- Yikes!
Yeah, those later tests are doozys. Not sure how I'll fare on that.  Now if I was just Necessary Connection Woman/Noumena-Knower, it would a lot easier.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Back at ye olde US college

Well, here I am back at college in the US. Quite a change! First off, everything seems so ridiculously nearby. I can get to class in such a jiffy, I love it! It's also been awesome being in an apartment, because I can continue some of the cooking action I got into in Oxford. Also, SO great to be rooming with a fellow Oxfordian, because when I get home from class, I know there will be someone who will listen with empathy about how much I miss Oxford.
Things I have discovered thus far about the differences between Oxford academics and the academics here, based on my J-term class:

There is not as much expectation placed on the student, at least in my History of Philosophy class. I've been a bit annoyed at how patronizing the professor seems to be, even though I am pretty sure he doesn't mean to be. He comes across as assuming that we've never thought deeply before in our lives, and his job is to fix that, or that even if we might be able to dialogue a bit, we won't have anything particularly insightful to contribute. We're just wee little bairns with nary an idea in us. So today I missed Dr. Thorpe and Dr. Plaskitt, who expected much of me, and so I gave them a lot. It also could do a lot with the discipline, English isn't necessarily logic and rational-thinking based, and Philosophy is, so maybe I really am a wee bairn, at least when it comes to Philosophy.

In fact, I know that I'm a wee bairn when it comes to Philosophy, because here are a few of the thoughts that have stuck with me thus far:

After reading about Pythagoreans, I don't remember tons of stuff about them, but what sticks in my mind is that fact that in top of other dietary restrictions based on their belief about the transmigration of souls (don't eat a cow because it might be uncle bob, that sort of thing) the Pythagoreans also were prohibited from eating beans. No one knows why, it is a mystery. I immediately thought of Blazing Saddles and the campfire scene. So Philosophical.

We also talked about quarks, and how scientist believe that they are made up of vibrating strings of energy, and I immediately thought of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles and the strings of magic everywhere that are strings of energy. Yep, real scientific there.

Needless to say, it's been different coming back, but it's still going to be good. I am determined to learn how to think differently through this class, and be ok with hard facts and waterproof rationality. I guess I tend to like things knit a little looser, a little more metaphorical, a little more mythical, a little more poetical, but I really do like some of the stuff we're talking about in the class. Now, if one could find a poetic Philosopher, THAT would be "grate stawf."