Monday, December 17, 2007

"Creation is groaning for the revealing of the Sons of God"

I just read this article by Michael Pollan in the New York Times magazine. He talks about two seemingly unrelated issues that cropped up in the last year and ties them together under the topic of industrialized agriculture, and the effects of the process of industrialization on the living/natural things involved, pigs for food production in the first case, and bees for almond production in the second. More broadly his argument is about sustainability/unsustainability. He says that what unsustainable "is that the practice or process can’t go on indefinitely because it is destroying the very conditions on which it depends." The mass production of meat involving "raising vast numbers of pigs or chickens or cattle in close and filthy confinement" leads to using an enormous amount of antibiotics on these animals (some say 70% of antibiotics consumed in the US), which possibly leads to the development/evolution of lethal, antibiotic-resistant, viruses etc. And the mass production of almonds in California leads to shipping in foreign bees from all over the country and world who are not at a place in their life-cycle to work hard, which could lead to mass sickness among the bees (and therefore less almond crop) every so often... Read the article to get the full stories...

Pollan is not asserting direct cause and effect situations here, he's careful about that. And even if we don't believe the connections he points to, I at least agree with his overall point. He says at the end of his article, "[this] seems to be a hallmark of industrial agriculture: to maximize production and keep food as cheap as possible, it pushes natural systems and organisms to their limit, asking them to function as efficiently as machines," and points out that this is dangerous. If we keep doing this, and continue trying to solve the problems that inevitably arise in ways that continue to treat them as machines, we are just making more problems. I am all for progress in agriculture, and in production in general, all for innovation. But I believe that we, as sons and daughters of God (creator of all), made in his image and likeness and given dominion over creation, would do well to have a greater respect for all of God's creation, to work with God and with the order within creation to innovate/create systems of agriculture, and society in general. This belief applies to the way we as humans treat humans as well, not just animals/organisms (think the stem-cell issue: embryos mass-produced for the sake of solving certain problems--scary! and probably not fully solving a problem that is actually much deeper than we think!). Pollan's argument and my endorsing it is not solely for the sake of pigs and bees. Ultimately even these agricultural problems have bad effects on us.

One more separate, random thought: there's a line in the article,"the lifestyle of the modern honeybee leaves the insects so stressed out and their immune systems so compromised that, much like livestock on factory farms, they've become vulnerable to whatever new infectious agent happens to come along..." When I read that I immediately thought of myself (and Gina) and UofC as an analogous situation and laughed... UofC has killed my immune system (think sudden onslaught then steady increase of allergies)... Really makes me wonder what is so unnatural about studying so hard...

Friday, December 14, 2007

Studying at Aster with Anne

Originally uploaded by marg.decelles
In the afternoon, Anne and I needed a change of scenery, so we headed to Aster cafe for more BA studying/reading. I love this place, and it gave me an opportunity to take cool pictures :)

Video of Dinkytown study day 1027

Anne and I are in the town of Dink for a little bit... Yesterday we got to study (work on our BA's) with the masses of Dinkytown Campus Division students studying for finals; it was their study day break between classes and tests. Also, yesterday the piano was tuned, which was quite exciting... Anyways at one point it was so crazy in the dining room I had to capture it on video.

Check it out :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Recommended Reading

The focus of my BA thesis will be the Jefferson Davis Monument in Fairview, KY and how it fit into the Confederate monument building boom of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In trying to nail down a thesis, I have read some pretty fascinating books that I think are worth recommending.

Lies Across America by James Loewen
Race and Reunion by David Blight
Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horowitz

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Done with Finals!

Margaret, Anne and I are done with Autumn quarter finals! Personally, I think it was my toughest finals week yet. However, I have found that painful academic experiences are easily forgotten; I will catch up on sleep and I don't have to read or think about poorly written papers again. While the pain doesn't last, I have faith that it was not pointless and that the learning that came through the pain was helpful--I may not remember many of the historical details from my classes, but the practice of analysis and synthesis of material is something that will stay with me and continue to grow once I'm out of school. That said, I can't wait to be done! :)

To celebrate being done, we went out to the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago. We had spiced wine and sugared macadamia nuts. Tonight we are celebrating Margaret's birthday--we're going to try and make our own spiced wine and roasted chestnuts. God be Praised!

(Anne and I with our warm drinks)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Allergy Rotation

Last night I accidentally posted the spread sheet that Margaret and I use to rotate the foods that we eat for our allergy rotation diet. Someone had a question about it, so I will explain. We are sensitive to many foods (i.e. we don't go into anaphylactic shock after eating said foods, so we aren't "allergic", but the reactions that we do have are uncomfortable and restrictive enough to make avoiding them well worth our while). The hope is that by following this rotation, we will avoid becoming sensitive to more foods and possibly lose our sensitivities to corn, wheat, milk, and soy products, as well as some other things.

The rotation assigns food families to specific days, ensuring that you do not eat a food, or any of its close relatives, more than once every 4 days. While it can be a hard plan to follow, I have learned some interesting things: did you know that onions and asparagus are in the same family? what about mangoes and cashews? If you are interested in looking at the table and learning about the different food families, you can check out the spreadsheet here. There are many foods that are not on the list, as well as ones on the list that we don't eat. You can tell when foods are in the same family by looking at the number next to it.

South Bend Sunday


Gina, Anne, and I come to South Bend for the People of Praise Community Meetings as often as we can while still being students on track to graduate when we want to... We've also recently been reassigned to the Action Division, and their meetings are, at least for the moment, before the CM's on Sunday. So this last Sunday, we got in the car and took off for the POP meeting double header. Here's sort of a photo tour of our trip down and back, though I didn't take pictures of the most interesting parts, the two meetings...

Moo and Oink's on StoneyIt was a gorgeous day.South Bend!The CenterTerry Kelly and the burning bush...
Back to Chi-town(the bridge is up)
More pictures on my flickr page...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Margaret brought me this from the Bonjour Bakery this morning, entirely unsolicited, while I was writing multiple papers quickly. It was even better than it looks.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

End of Week 6

In the quarter system, we talk about our life in weeks. A full quarter consists of 9 1/2 weeks of classes, followed by a two day reading period and then a finals week. This week ends the 6th week of classes.

Since we are all history majors and seniors, our life pretty much looks like lots of time researching, reading and writing. We have to turn in a 40-50 page original history paper (our BA thesis) at the beginning of Spring quarter (the beginning of April). We each have a faculty advisor who is supposed to help us with the process, as well as a special seminar devoted to learning how to write good history and talking about our individual projects. These past couple weeks have consisted of discerning what secondary and primary sources we might use in our papers, as well as annotating those sources. Annotating them basically consists of reading the sources, which can look like skimming the source or reading academic reviews of it, and then summarizing what the source presents and why we think it will be useful to our project. The next hurdle we have in the process is to write a "problem paper", which I think is supposed to articulate the problem that we think our paper will set out to answer. That paper is still a few weeks off, so I'm still fuzzy on what it's supposed to be.

In addition to these last few weeks being full of annotation, they've been full of the common cold. When you live in household, it seems pretty hard to avoid passing bugs on to one another. I'm the last victim, so hopefully in the next few days we'll be done with it and on to the land of no colds! Please pray for us--all of our work and health. May the Lord be glorified in everything we do!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Corn and Economics

There's an interesting conversation on the Becker-Posner blog (they are 2 economists from the U of C) about ethanol subsidies, the rise of food costs, its possible impact on developing countries, and the politics of agricultural subsidies in the US. It is a little long, but I thought it was informative. One interesting thing I hadn't realized: the fact that the state of Iowa plays such a large role in the primaries affects how politicians support subsidies. According to Posner, Iowa caucuses extract pledges from possible presidential candidates to preserve and expand the home-grown ethanol industry, making the issue of ethanol subsidies bi-partisan and unlikely to generate a lot of critique.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

More Recipes!

By request from a dear sister in the People of Praise, here are the recipes from my birthday dinner.

Date and Apricot Chutney from Cooking Light

1/2 cup dried apricots, halved
1 cup chopped, pitted dates (about 1 lb)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

1. Place apricots in a medium bowl. Cover with boiling water, and let stand 1 hour. Drain.

2. Combine apricots, dates, and next 7 ingredients in a medium heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 25 min or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in cilantro

3. Pack chutney in clean jars. Cover and cool chutney completely; chill. Yield: 2 1/4 cups (serving size: 1/4 cup)

Note: You can store chutney in refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. It is good with roasted meats, in the morning on toast, or on ham sandwiches.

Butternut Squash with Sage

Mixed Greens with Fennel, Pears and Walnuts

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Praise God for Birthdays!

Margaret and Anne made a wonderful birthday dinner for me last night. It was the first Lord's Day that we have had here in Chicago this school year; the last 4 weeks or so there have been many wonderful occasions for which to travel and celebrate with brothers and sisters in the POP!

Anne and Margaret both like taking cool pictures, so I asked them to print off some of their artsy photos and frame them for me so that we could hang them up in our apartment.

I love squash, so we had butternut squash with sage, lamb chops with apricot, date chutney and mixed greens with pears. It was a very autumnal dinner despite the 70 degree weather! Dessert was a peppermint chocolate torte. Scrumptious!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back porch!

For the past four weeks we have not been allowed to go out our back door because this porch was rebuilt. (This has meant much loud noises during working hours, and really long round-about trips to the laundry room and to the trash...) It's done today, and looks awesome! The above pic shows our back door on the left, and the pic below is taken from right outside our back door looking to the right...

more BA work...

This is my desk... I'm working on writing my annotated bibliography for my BA research on Scottish neo-nationalism...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

BA researching...

...on a chilly fall day...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Praise God for Chocolate!

I knew that there was going to be cheesecake and chocolate torte at Genevieve and Nathan's wedding this past weekend--which meant yummy desserts and Margaret and Gina should not eat if we wanted to enjoy the company of our dear brothers and sisters. So, I decided to make a milk-free, soy-free, flourless chocolate cake. I was skeptical as to whether it would work, but it did and it tasted great and fit right in with the chocolate torte that was at the wedding. Here's the recipe adapted from

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder plus additional for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375°F and oil an 8-inch round baking pan. Line bottom with a round of wax paper.

Chop chocolate into small pieces. In a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water melt chocolate with oil, stirring, until smooth. Remove top of double boiler or bowl from heat and whisk sugar into chocolate mixture. Add eggs and whisk well. Sift 1/2 cup cocoa powder over chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into pan and bake in middle of oven 25 minutes, or until top has formed a thin crust. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes and invert onto a serving plate.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What I've Been Avoiding Reading

Well, perhaps avoiding is a bit too strong of a word, but I've been putting off reading for a very long time what everyone kept telling me I'd like. I did believe them, but I always felt like there was something closer to the top of my list, more worth spending time on. Well, last night I finished the seventh Harry Potter book about a month after I started the first one. And after a long time of only half-believing all the fans, I would definitely say that it is not to be taken lightly, and it is worth reading.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Back to School

So we've finally started school again for the year this week. We are all technically fourth-years, aka seniors, now. We moved back up on Sunday, though we didn't have really to move since we are still in the same apartment. After getting some things settled, we decided to rearrange the furniture in the study and the living room. It is very interesting how the way a room is arranged affects how you want to use it/be in it. We had a lot of fun doing this. One thing I really enjoyed about moving into this apartment last fall was getting to decorate it and arrange the furniture in it with Anne and Gina. It was an amazing co-creative experience. We all have similar taste so that was helpful :) I was sad, coming back to school this year, that we would not have that kind of opportunity. But we created one for ourselves anyways, and it was great. And now I like those two rooms a lot better!!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

w0rk, w00t!

Today I was thinking about how I haven't posted in forever, and just now I was thinking about my summer working at LaSalle Company... and well, I decided to post about working at LaSalle... Wow, that was the most boring intro to a blog-post you've ever read! I guess I should stop writing and show pictures... This is me, hard at work in my cubicle, or reading an email as it appears. (I stole this pic from Lizzy--payback I guess for taking it in the first place, she scared me half to death!)
This is from the beginning of the summer... me and Lizzy... It was way fun to get to work with Liz this summer, though since she had to leave for school a month before me, I was left behind without her for a while... But it was great, we had many discussions about history, politics, solving the problems of the world, life in Christ/in the POP, and of course Harry Potter 7!!! We also worked. A lot. In case you were wondering.
Laura and me, with our lovely head-sets :) Laura, above, and Sarah, below left, are permanant employees of LaSalle, so they won't leave while I'm here :) It's been great to be able to work with them!
Another pic from Lizzy, of Sarah, me and Liz, (again featuring our lovely headsets...)Me taking an order, live in action! I'm still here for one more week before I go back to school in Chi-town :)

Praise God for being able to work for the People of Praise, and with the People of Praise!

Monday, August 27, 2007


Right now it's just Sarah and I here in Chi-town for a little while, as Gina has finished her classes and gone home for a while (I've still got a week left). On Saturday, we had several of Sarah's friends over for Lord's day (including one who went to River was a surprise to me, as I didn't realize who she was until about 10 minutes before she came). I made a loaf of bread that turned out to be enormous!

Here's Sarah cooking Lord's Day. She made Vietnamese Spring Rolls. It's a little like eating fajitas, only with raw vegetables and rice paper, which is much more fun. She spent a really long time chopping all the veggies!

One of the highlights of the evening was when one of our guests provided us with an extensive exegetical analysis of the Regina Spektor song Samson, as well as the character Samson in general. It was probably the most interesting thing I've heard all summer, but I'm afraid I can't reproduce it (I suspect he could write his dissertation on it if he wanted to). All I'll say is that to understand the song you should think about who the speaker is (as a hint, look at Judges 14-15).

I've got a week of summer classes left, and then will be doing research for my B.A. Thesis for most of the rest of the summer. I will probably spend some time in South Bend at the Notre Dame library.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

What the World Eats

Check out this photo essay on What the World Eats. The difference in the amounts of food that families from different countries eat in a week is pretty amazing--look at how much food the family from Africa survives on compared to most of the rest!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Bike-Share Program

Here is an article from the NY Times that I thought was interesting. The NY state senate didn't go for a proposal from NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to start charging a fee to motorists who want to drive in downtown NYC. This fee would have been a way to discourage traffic and pollution, while increasing revenues. Since it doesn't look like congestion pricing will happen in the near future, the author of this piece looks at a policy that encourages different types of transportation in the city and that may reduce traffic and pollution: a bike-share program. He looks to a Parisian program that has just started that makes over 10,000 bikes available to people at over 750 locations throughout the city for a small fee. These bikes can be returned at any of the stations, eliminating the hassle that would come with returning bikes to the station from which you took them. I thought this idea was really creative; it not only encourages a healthy lifestyle, but it will also help remedy traffic congestion and pollution from cars.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Humility and Obedience

I just finished reading The Rule of St. Benedict for my Western Civilization class. This rule is a document that St. Benedict wrote to guide monks in their daily, communal life. I have never taken much interest in the monastic life because I viewed stories of their asceticism as a bit over the top. While I'm not sure if my views on flogging one's self have changed from reading this document (it doesn't really address corporeal self-punishment), it has helped me to understand the monastic life better and to appreciate headship and our understanding of obedience in the People of Praise.

There may be many motives for one to enter into the monastic way of life: fear of God, desire for salvation, ambivalence about the world and love of God. Benedict recognizes all of these motives as legitimate ones for entering into monastic life. However, the first three motives are self-interested ones--ones that are motivated by the self. Over the course of a monk's life, if his training in the monastery is successful, these three motives should drop away, leaving only the love of God as one's motivation. The way that the the first three motives are stripped away is through obedience and humility. Being completely obedient to the abbot, the rule and the community of the monastery strips a monk of his pride and self-will; no longer does he do what he would will, but submits to the will of others. After ascending through the steps of humility by obedience and various other actions, a monk will "arrive at the perfect love which casts out all fear (1 John 4:18)." and, "Through this love, all that he once performed with dread, he will now begin to observe without effort, as though naturally, from habit, not longer out of fear of hell, but out of the love for Christ, good habit and delight in virtue."

I think the process that Benedict outlines is really beautiful, and yet very hard for modern people to understand and appreciate; submitting to another in obedience can be seen as weak and dangerous. Unfortunately, history has left us with many bad examples of leaders who, in demanding total obedience, did not have the best interest of their people at heart (Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini...). People are afraid to trust leaders and follow any individual aside from themselves. Praise God that we can put our complete trust in him without fear that he will lead us astray and that the People of Praise has a set up where we can submit to one another in love and obedience, helping us to grow in humility and love of God.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Economics and Christianity

For the past 3 weeks I have been taking an accelerated microeconomics class; I have crammed a whole quarter's worth of material into 3 weeks and it has been one of the most challenging things that I have ever done! It has been great though because it took me to the end of my rope--I could only study so much econ everyday and really only absorb as much as my brain could physically handle. I had to rely on the Lord to help me understand material in an area that was foreign and unnatural for me. The Lord was faithful and through him alone did I finish this course!

From what I have learned, I think that economics provides people in the world with a relatively accurate model that helps them predict the actions of self-interested, rational individuals. However, in his recent talk on the Cross, Paul DeCelles says that as Christians, we need to have a different economy. I have been trying to reconcile this idea with the way that economics assumes individuals act and how we, as Christians should approach business and economics.

One thing that got me started on thinking about this was when I was chosen to participate in a class experiment that would illustrate the concept of relative wealth. This concept--anyone who knows better than I, please correct me--says that people seek to acquire wealth, not only for what it can buy them, but for the ability it brings them to be wealthier than others. This concept is illustrated in the fact that most people would chose to make $100,000 while others make $90,000 than to make $110, 000 while most others make $120,000. While in the second case people would have $10,000 more than the first, they would rather make quantitatively less money, but have more than most people. This basically assumes that people are jealous and greedy.

In the experiment that my professor, another student and myself worked out in class, I was given $10. I had to chose an fraction of this amount to give to the other student that the other student could accept or reject. If he rejected the amount, neither he nor I would receive any money and the experiment would leave us both empty handed. If he accepted the deal, we would both walk away with our respective sums. My choice, then, had to take into account how much this other student would punish me for being stingy in the amount that I gave him. If I gave him $1, which would have been $1 more than he had before, would be punish me by rejecting my offer and depriving me of my share of the remaining $9? What about if I gave him$2 or $3? In the end, I played it conservatively and gave him $5, which he gladly took. once

After class, I got to thinking about this experiment. What would my professor and the class have thought if I had given this other student all $10, leaving myself with nothing? What if the Lord had wanted me me to give this other student all of the money? What if I had said that the Lord had wanted me to live in poverty and that I didn't want this money? Such behavior would be considered irrational by economists--they would never predict such actions.

I do not doubt that economic modeling is a very useful tool in the world. However, will it be useful in our cities? What about in our businesses? Will we market and price things based on the concept that people are self-interested? I'm still not really sure what I think about all of this, but I know that the Lord is calling us to do things that are not "rational" by the world's standards: we forgive debts, give to those who ask and embrace poverty and humility. I'd like to see the economic model for Christian society...although there's probably not much of an incentive to do so.

If anyone followed this and is interested in having more conversations about this, please comment.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Roommate

We've had a busy couple of days: all three of us finished finals in the middle of last week and after that Anne and I traveled west to Denver and Seattle respectively. I went to visit Eryn McEntee, our old roommate, and Anne went to her brother's graduation. I got back on Saturday to a new roommate and Margaret packing up her things to go home to South Bend for the summer. Our new roommate is Sarah and she will be living with us as a member of our household for the summer. We're really excited to have her; Anne and I are taking classes at the U of C over the summer so that we will be able to graduate early, and having another person here with us is a real blessing! So, for the past couple of days we've been moving Sarah in and showing her the ropes. Also we have been preparing to host a birthday party for Sarah tonight. This is her 21st birthday and she really wants to sanctify this year to the Lord and to have him be the center of her celebration. Those coming to the party tonight, whether they are Christian or not, will see the Lord in the way that we will honor and pray for Sarah and her year. I'm excited to see how people will respond to such a celebration of a 21st birthday. As opposed to getting "trashed", we will being giving glory to the Father for all that he has done for and in Sarah and asking his blessing on her year! Praise the Lord!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Memorial Day Fun Times

I'm taking a quick break from working on my second-to-last paper/final for the year, to post some pics from our Memorial Day celebrations last Monday. We wanted to go to the Point, the park on the lake that's like a little peninsula, to grill hamburgers and have a picnic dinner, but we don't have a little grill, and the neither did the park... So we grilled at home on our trusty little George Foreman, and had our burgers on our "back-porch." They were really good... Then we went to have the rest of the picnic at the Point, chips and carrots and these really good sugar cookies iced with red, white and blue frosting that Anne made (dairy/wheat/soy free!!). We sat on the side where we could see downtown. It was a lovely evening. Later that night we went to see a U of C student's film, A Bollywood Story, which was fun...

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Creativity and Freedom

I recently read this article by Thomas Friedman, author of The World is Flat, which highlights the importance of freedom for creativity in America and China. Friedman sees the freedom of thought that the governmental and social systems of the United States fosters, as being the element that enables the creativity that Einstein harnessed to challenge the status quo. While China may be on its way to surpassing the US the technology market, Friedman posits that they will ultimately hit a ceiling on innovation because of the restrictions that China's authoritarian government places on its people.

While China may be held back by its political system, the science and math education in the US may be a similar hindrance to our innovative capabilities. Einstein's creativity and imagination, which made it possible for him to conceive of his special theory of relativity, resulted from the beauty that he found in the world of science and math. This sense of beauty, Friedman says, is seriously lacking in the math and science education of kids in the US today. He says that we must understand science and math as beautiful, just as we see music and art as beautiful if we are to foster creative genius. (I don't really do the article justice, so check it out.)

Friedman's thoughts were echoed in an forum on education that I just read. The prompt for discussion was based of a Chinese teacher's observation of American education. While he saw that children in the US were exposed to practical problem solving in their studies, they were seriously behind the Chinese in basic computation skills. The Chinese teacher defended his country's system of education by saying that, "knowledge acquisition is the basis for creativity". A particular response to this prompt from a teacher in the US really resonated with the Friedman article. It is posted below.

"Several summers ago, a group of visiting Asian educators showed up at a Gifted Education/Talent Development Conference with briefcases full of articles on creativity. At every break between sessions, they followed up with questions to the professors about how to specifically create an atmosphere of originality in the classroom. They had brought highlighted pages of articles on the subject and were earnestly desiring to do everything possible to take back this skill for creativity to their classrooms. At the end of the two-week conference, the professor in charge privately asked the group from Asia if they wouldn’t mind explaining their interest. The leader of the group said, and I paraphrase, “Our countries in Asia outperform American students on every type of test in school. Our students, for example, are highly skilled and quick in computational mathematics; they do better in every measurement of math ability. Yet, this does not seem to translate into creative productive output. Look at the Nobel prizes by country. Why doesn’t Asia have the most Nobel prizes if standardized tests are the best indicators of all needed skills? Something is missing in our tests. Our countries lag far behind the US, and we cannot say that the awards have been unfairly granted. The goal we have for our students is not high test performance inside the school—our objective is for our adults to engage in field-changing creative productivity after their education is complete. That is what our country needs. We believe this can only happen if we include creativity in the classroom.”

Countries with the Most Nobel Prize Winners
Rank Country Number of Laureates
1 United States 270
2 United Kingdom 101
3 Germany 76
4 France 49
5 Sweden 30
6 Switzerland 22
7 Netherlands 15
8 USSR 14
8 Italy 14
10 Denmark 13
11 Japan 12
12 Austria 11
13 Canada 10
14 Spain 6
14 Australia 6
16 Ireland 5
16 Israel 5
16 Poland 5
16 South Africa 5
16 Argentina 5
21 India 4


My Chinese students who are in their 20’s are very reticent at first in American-style classes. They tell me they have never been asked by a teacher before what their opinion was, for example, or the best way to solve a problem. They have never even had the experience of “brainstorming” for ideas before, much less of having experienced other methods of enhancing creativity. While these Chinese students are doing well in the BA/MA programs in straight mathematics skills classes, such as in most Accounting courses, they tend to flounder in more sophisticated MBA courses with such test questions as “Hypothesize….and support your hypothesis with examples….” This is quite different from the test questions they are used to in China with the math problem laid out for them where they then can find the one right answer. When we brainstorm in my class about the necessary ingredients for success, the Chinese students have told me that they feel they have above average intelligence, a good education, and that they are willing to work hard, but that they feel they “aren’t very creative.” My experience has been that with support and scaffolding, they can learn to be more creative. "

Chômeur Pudding

This was another interesting recipe I made recently that is dairy, soy, and wheat free. Is is French Canadian and reminds me a lot of waffles. It is unlike any "pudding" I have ever had. It is very easy to make and can be tweaked back to its "original" form if you search for the traditional recipe online.

Mixing bowl
Large glass baking dish

For the cake:
-2 cups oatmeal or barley flour (or mixture of the two)
-¾ cup sugar
-1 cup rice milk (or any kind of milk or juice)
-4 tablespoons canola oil
-½ teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons baking powder (use less if using wheat flour)

For the syrup:

-2 cups brown sugar
-2 cups water
-1 teaspoon oatmeal flour

For the syrup: Mix dry ingredients first in a large glass baking dish and then mix in the water.

For the cake: Mix dry ingredients first in a mixing bowl. Then, add the rice milk and oil, mixing gently. Divide the dough into even 6 portions and put them in the syrup already prepared in a large glass baking dish. Bake at 375 F for 30-40 minutes.
Makes 10-12

Wacky Cake

Wow! It's been a really long time since we've put stuff up here; we are starting in on our last set of midterms this week and the last time we posted was finals of last quarter! None of us are very good at keeping up with this type of thing, so we've been thinking of different kinds of posts we could do in place of or in addition to long, narrative ones.

Since 2/3's of our household has allergies and we are constantly having to come up with ways to tweak recipes to fit our needs, and also since we enjoy cooking, we thought we could post recipes that we have enjoyed and that can be eaten by many people who have allergies. Tonight, for our Lord's Day dessert, I made Wacky Cake. Apparently, the story is that Wacky Cake was created during WWII when supplies were scarce and they used crazy things like vinegar in desserts. It requires neither dairy nor egg products, and can be mixed right in the cake pan!! This cake ends up being pretty cheap and easy to make. You can choose what type of frosting you want to make, but I made a chocolate-orange frosting.

Click here for the recipe for the cake.

Here is the recipe for the dairy free frosting I made:

Chocolate Orange Frosting
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • grated rind of 1 orange
  • pinch of salt

Add yolk to sugar, mix well; add the rest.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Friday, March 2, 2007

Rejection Is Fun

The first time I heard this phrase, it was being used by some of the company guys who were spending their summer making cold calls for an internship. I'm finding it helpful as an unofficial motto for our missionary efforts, too.

Gina and I had a conversation today that was eerily similar to a bad role-play we did together the first day we went out to talk to women on campus about the Lord. In this role-play I pretended to be a quasi-Christian, who really felt like all religions were basically the same. I essentially questioned every statement and claim Gina made. While she responded well, the conversation really didn't go far at all. This conversation was a lot like that experience, I felt like I was digging myself deeper and deeper into a little hole every time I said something. Basically, it didn't go anywhere, but the woman happily said it had been "interesting" to talk to us when we left.

This was a frustrating experience, and I am pretty sure that she was not someone the Lord was preparing for us to talk to. But in a strange way, it almost was fun. When we were walking home afterwards, Gina and I kept coming up with things that we should have said differently, or that might be good to try in a similar situation. Even though it was a clear rejection, it was actually sort of invigorating and encouraging for us. We were inspired to go back and try new things the next time encounter a conversation like this.

Evangelizing random women like this has been extremely intimidating for me, particularly at first. But really, I think anticipating rejection is a lot worse than actually being rejected, because, of course, there’s really nothing to fear with the Lord. When we get rejected, we're still working with the Lord and being creative in that situation. And how can that ever be a bad time? Praise God! With him, even rejection becomes fun!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Physci & Farming

The core curriculum here at U of C requires that we take some kind of physical science. Being a history major, the physical sciences aren't really my gig. However, Anne liked her Physci class last year and recommended it. So, this quarter I am taking The Dynamic Environment--it is kind of about the history of the earth and the rise civilization through the eye of a physical scientist. It is cool because it is a way of doing history that is completely different from what I am used to. I have learned about glaciers, climate change, hominid evolution, Mitochondrial Eve and today we started on the emergence of agriculture. I obviously haven't gotten that far into the subject after one day, but the emergence of domesticated crops such as wheat and corn is really interesting to me. It may seem kind of weird, but my interest stems from the food sensitivities that I have developed recently.

For over 10 years I have had headaches that I couldn't pinpoint to any specific cause---they aren't migraines, but they occur pretty much everyday and often make it difficult to concentrate. They aren't debilitating to the point of keeping me from work, but I sure feel a lot better and energetic when I don't have them! Anyway, for over ten years, I just kind of dealt with them. When I came to college, I developed a lactose intolerance which is relatively common for people as they get into their 20's. While I was sad to give up cheese and ice cream, I realized that my headaches seemed to have reduced in their frequency. I did a couple of experiments and realized that in addition to not being able to digest lactose, milk products did give me headaches. As I began to pay more attention to how I felt after eating different things, I realized that there were a number of foods that affected how my head felt. I react to soy products and pretty recently I have come to believe that I am sensitive to wheat and corn. As I have done more research, I have come to learn that milk, wheat, soy, and corn are four of the eight most common allergens. This is kind of where the interest in the domestication of crops and emergence of farming interest me. Because wheat, soy and corn have become such "essential" crops (they wouldn't have survived 10,000 years ago without the care introduced through farming), and because many farmers have government subsidies, there is an over-production of sorts. These foods find their way into pretty much all processed foods--for example, there is soy in cans of tuna and wheat in Twizzlers. Also, because most livestock are fed food comprised mostly of corn, the meat that we eat contains corn. Thee more I research about the food industry, the more I want to start a People of Praise farm in the fertile land of the Mississippi Valley where we grow obscure cereals and grass fed cows. There are a few books that my Physci professor recommended if we were interested in learning more. I thought I would share them with anyone else who might be interested in learning more.

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan

Also, a cool documentary that I watched in this class is about the different migrations that the first peoples made out of Africa to populate the earth. It traces the first peoples, who are related to the San Bushman of Africa, to Australia where they became the Aborigines. There are many other branches that would be to complicated to explain here. If anyone is interested in knowing about the journey of early humans, check out the website for the Journey of Man--you can even send in a sample of your DNA to find the actual paths that your personal ancestors traveled!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Guests for the Weekend

Claire Mysliwiec and Liz Loughran, our fellow Campus Division members from Notre Dame, came to visit us this weekend. When they arrived Friday evening, Gina, Anne and I met them at the train station, and together we set off to find a place to eat dinner. We ate at Noodles, a Thai place, and shared about our studies and about the work we have been doing for our project teams. Liz is on a Missionary Project team like us, so it was cool to hear how that is going on the Saint Marys and Notre Dame campuses. And Claire shared about her work on the Vine and Branches project team.

After having our fill of Pad Thai etc, we rushed to catch a bus to get to our apartment. Then we spent the rest of the evening talking, sharing more life, in our living room.

Saturday, since we all had a lot of school work to do, we spent most of the day studying. In the afternoon, though, we took a break to walk to campus, and Gina, Anne and I gave Claire and Liz a quasi-tour of campus. Then we found a good study spot there and continued working. For Lord's day, Gina prepared an amazing Guatemalan feast. We had gorditas with pork and all the fixings. (so good!) It was a wonderful time. We sat at dinner for three hours sharing about the Lord and the blessings of the past week, about what we are learning in our classes, and more. After dinner we cleaned up, and Gina served us dessert: coconut flan and fried plantains (picture)! Amazing...

This morning we set out for 8:30 church in the freezing-ish rain. It was quite an adventure getting there and back (it's a 15 minute walk), walking through rain and slushy, icy puddles. Once back to our warm, dry apartment, we settled down to more studying with hot tea to warm us up. It's been such a delight to have Claire and Liz here with us for the weekend, to share our life in Chicago with them, hear about their life at Notre Dame, and grow in friendship. Glory!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Nothing to Fear

Anne, Margaret and I went out on campus today to talk to women about the Lord. This was the third time that we had gone out, and, while some women had shown marginal interest in talking to us more about getting to know the Lord, we hadn’t had any huge successes.

We met at the student center, as we had the previous two times, but it soon became clear that it wasn’t the best place for us to be. We decided to split up and walk around the Quads and stop individual women to see if they were open to hearing more about the Lord. We decided that Anne and I would team up and Margaret would go it alone.

This being our third excursion, I felt like I was kind of getting the hang of this whole going-out-and-talking-to-strangers bit—the fear that I had had the first day before going up to people and saying, “Hi. The Lord wants me to talk to you” had significantly decreased. I had faith that the Lord would take care of me and loved me even if the women that I talked to thought I was a weirdo—I probably wasn’t going to see them again anyway. However, as I was praying this morning about our missionary expedition, the Lord told me that I didn’t need to be afraid of talking to people that I knew or that I saw on a regular basis. I found the prospect of talking to these women scary—if they thought I was a weirdo, I had to see them and KNOW that they thought I was weird. However, armed with the word of the Lord, Anne and I went out.

We talked to a number of women that we didn’t know, and while making our way back to meet Margaret, we saw a woman that I recognized from one of my classes last year. I recognized her from my class, but throughout this past year had noticed her on campus and was kind of drawn to her. Even though I was drawn to her, I also felt very intimidated by her. However, watching her walk closer and closer, I knew that I needed to talk to her. It turns out that Anne had also had class with her and felt the same apprehension to talking with her. However, strengthened by each other’s presence and the word from the Lord not to fear, we talked with her and it ends up that she was uniquely poised for an invitation from the Lord for a deeper relationship with him. As we talked with her, my fear vanished and I saw that the Lord was right—I had nothing to fear. She was really receptive to what we told her and wants to get together to talk more. Praise the Lord!