Just a little blog about me and mine.

still here… December 11, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 10:38 am

So my idea to do a quick “Today I…” blog post didn’t work either for keeping me posting regularly. Work has been busy, trying to finish everything by the end of the year, which really means by the 18th since most of us are out the next two weeks. PL has law school finals, so we don’t see each other more than a few minutes a day, it’s cold, the dogs are needy, the cat is fussy…so yeah, that’s where I’ve been.

But some good things, large and small are happening. We’re going to see one of my favorite bands Girlyman this Saturday. At least I’m going with a friend of ours, PL is hopefully going but studying might get in the way. I made an awesome pot of chili for supper last night, and then stored it on the deck in the cold weather overnight which was amusing, even if the weather isn’t. After taking a break for finals, there will be more college basketball games again this weekend, including a women’s home game at Tech on Sunday afternoon that I’ll be attending.

But to help make sense of it all, I’ll close with a terrific quoted shared with me by my boss Stephen:

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” -E.B. White


It’s Just War… December 10, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 7:29 pm

When President Obama accepted his Nobel Peace Prize (no further comment on that) in Norway this week, two statements in his speech stood out to me:

“Make no mistake: evil does exist in the world,” Mr. Obama said. “A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms.”

“I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.”

Obama discounts non-violent movements as being effective, at least in some situations, and later invokes the theory of just war. First, I have to preface anything I’m going to say next with a remembrance that having our President even mention just war is a step forward. It is my understanding, both from my own observation but also from that of important witnesses in the periods leading up to our current wars, especially in Iraq, that just war, as a theory or as a tool, was never considered. So, kudos for that, I suppose.

But, with the concept of a just war now re-entering our vocabulary, I wanted to spend some time remembering, thinking, and ultimately sharing with any of you reading this, what just war theory is really all about, and what it’s not, both from a more secular moral/philosophical standpoint as well as from the perspective of Christian ethics. Just war theory can serve as a guide to form personal conscience as well as a way to structure public debate.

In it’s origin just war theory is a synthesis of Greco-Roman philosophy and Christian ethics–so in a nutshell, Aristotle, Cicero, and Augustine. The original position of the Christian church was one of pacifism (for several centuries in fact), and you can think of just war as a very gray area between pacifism and crusade/holy war on a long continuum. The development of just war in the Christian tradition might best be viewed as a reluctant abandonment of non-violence in the face of the very real injustice and violence that exists in our broken world. Pacifism has an absolute presumption against war, just war theory has a prima facie (first look) presumption against war, but can envision cases where the presumption against war would be overridden with exceptions. Just war then: condemns war as evil, limits the evil that war entails when it happens, and humanizes the conduct of war. So, at it’s best, a just war is barely within the boundaries of morality, and there is an assumption that war and conduct during war is subject to moral deliberation.

The just war ethic asks 3 questions: Why? When? How? Or if you prefer Latin: jus ad bellum: concerns the justice of going to war; jus in bello: concerns justice in the conduct of war; and jus post bellum: concerns the justice of termination of war and peace agreements.

Ok, so there’s three parts to just war theory, how do we apply them?

In jus ad bellum, concerning going to war, there are six criteria, and each must be met–it’s all or nothing.

1. Just cause.
-to protect innocent people from unjust attack
-to restore rights that have been wrongfully denied
-to restore the basis of order necessary for decent human existence (yes, this would allow for justified
2. Right intention.
3. Proper authority and public declaration.
4. Last Resort.
5. Probability of Success.
6. Proportionality.

Now for jus in bellow, justice in the conduct of war:
1-proportionality of means: only use enough force to accomplish tactical goals
2-noncombatant immunity

In jus post bellum, just as much thought and stringent demands go into ending a conflict–turning over of power, dealing with prisoners, and establishing treaties and agreements as is required in the other stages.

So, take your favorite war, run through these, and see how far you get. Remember, it’s an all or nothing game.

My own belief is that I’m a just war adherent who believes the criteria for just war are so stringent that no war would ever pass the test and can be considered moral, therefore I’m a pacifist…sort of, mostly, in theory, sometimes. I’m not a total pacifist–if I call the cops, I want them to show up at my house with guns, for instance. I also have more serious struggles with pacifism in light of the need for humanitarian intervention (Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, etc…). So, I lean more towards the Realist camp, like Reinhold Niebuhr, who concede there are certain situations in which morality should be sacrificed for justice (and honestly, self-preservation). Niebuhr recognizes that we live in an imperfect world full of imperfect people (who have some limited moral resources to draw on–such as an ethic of nonviolence in our religious tradition that might still influence us), and therefore pacifism is a political impossibility even if it might be a moral good.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009 November 25, 2009

Filed under: family,food — Katie @ 11:51 pm

Today…I got off work at 1pm. It was a quiet and productive morning at work, but it’s always fun to leave early. I did get to read, rather re-read Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese as part of something I was doing. So beautiful. I just adore her, even though I’m not a huge poetry fan…just her and Rilke. Maybe I’ll be converted yet.

When I arrived home, my dad had already finished cutting down the huge bushes in the front of the house, and cut down the two dead dogwoods in the backyard. Together we picked up all of the small branches and and stacked the larger pieces usable for firewood. We also have another exciting yard project in the works, so stay tuned.

A highlight of the day, and this week, has been watching my Christmas cactus, er, Thanksgiving cactus, bloom. Shortly before she died, my grandmother gave me this cactus that she had at her house. It’s blooms are a beautiful coral color, which reminds me of her since it’s a color she really liked.

After a much less glamorous supper of sandwiches and chips and more fruitcake cookies, we removed the turkey from it’s brine and put it into the refrigerator until tomorrow. I made cranberry sauce, PL got the gravy mostly ready (or at least as ready as it can get without a turkey and its drippings), I assembled made from scratch, (not just from scratch but yuppie-like with a bechamel and gruyere and sharp white vermont cheddar), macaroni and cheese and got it oven-ready, and together we made a pumpkin ginger cheesecake.

While the cheesecake was baking, the oven did it’s really hot freaking out thing (c.f. Julia’s chocolate pecan pie from last Christmas Eve and my banana oatmeal bread from this summer). What happens is that it gets really hot all of a sudden, like lava hot, and turns itself off and won’t turn back on. PL thought she smelled something burning so we caught it early enough to scrape some black off the top of the still uncooked cheesecake, turn the circuit off and back on, and try again. We cooked it a bit more, and it’s cooling now so I think we saved it. I guess we’ll know tomorrow–the batter was very good, even though we added extra ginger to the recipe, so I hope the oven freakout didn’t ruin it (did I mention we have a $3500+ Jenn Air oven, not cool). We watched Glee while all this was happening, turning the tv off and back on a few times trying to find the right switch on circuit breaker for the oven, it’s the unlabeled one of course! Why then did we try the one that said “range” first, silly us for thinking things make sense in our house.


What I’m Reading–Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 11:41 am

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Filed under: family,food — Katie @ 11:28 am

Today…my parents arrived at our house for Thanksgiving. PL and I cooked a really nice dinner for them, Chicken in Mustard Sauce, Middle Eastern Carrot Salad, and Green beans with Almonds. My mom then washed all the dishes since she can’t let a dirty dish sit around for more than a few minutes after eating-it’s fantastic.

Then we brined our Thanksgiving turkey. My dad hinted several times that the best turkey he ever had was one his mom brined before she cooked it. We bought a free-range, never injected with junk, vegetarian fed bird at the farmer’s market and we are using this recipe for the brine and then the gravy. I always ate giblet gravy with boiled eggs in it growing up, and I’m not a huge fan, and by not a huge fan I mean that I think it’s disgusting. I make a good pan gravy now, but thought this would be nice to try.

Since the turkey has to brine 18-20 hours and then sit in the refrigerator overnight after that, we had to get started yesterday evening. Yes, I confess that I am generally that organized all the time, I even have a Thanksgiving 2009 Google Doc schedule, so fun.

The turkey had been hanging out staying nice and cold with ice water in our cooler outside since we had too much stuff in our refrigerator. We somehow made enough room in the refrigerator, and it’s now brining in a large bucket. We were also smart enough to snag some of the large plastic bags they use in the meat section at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market which are nice and strong and the perfect size. (Full Disclosure: PL bought a brand new bucket for turkey brining (our stockpot was too small) on Monday, but then was so happy to have a bucket she used it for Murphy’s oil soap and water to mop the floors, even though I said that was gross. I lost the argument, and she cleaned the bucket really well after mopping, then we lined the bucket with one plastic bag, and put the turkey inside of 2 more. She might not like me sharing that, but it’s funny to live in our house most of the time).


Monday, November 23, 2009 November 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 10:53 am

Today…I cleaned the house even more. My parents are coming tomorrow, and it’s finally clean–the dogs sure did their best to bring in more mud as we were trying to get rid of the mud that was already there. PL did more cleaning than I did-she vacuumed and mopped everything. She says near the top of her “Things I’m Thankful List” is the pet hair Dyson that we got earlier this year. Sometimes I think the Dyson might be higher on the list than me, but she reminded me that without me she wouldn’t even have dogs or a house full of dog hair–I’ll take that as a compliment.

Then PL and I baked Fruitcake cookies for my dad, using my grandmother’s recipe. I’m not really patient enough to bake, and this recipe is easy but uses lots of bowls and can get messy. I was already frustrated after having to run out for one item we forgot to buy this weekend for the cookies, and the store was a total zoo. So baking was frustrating more than fun, but PL came and helped me finish the cookies. While the cookies were baking, we watched a couple of our favorite tv shows–among the only shows besides Grey’s Anatomy we ever really make time to watch regularly–How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory.


Sunday, November 22, 2009 November 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Katie @ 11:11 am

Today we went to Sunday school and church, and then stayed for a potluck and a little bit of the Advent Festival. It was a really rainy and cold day, so almost as soon as we got home we lit a fire in the fireplace and enjoyed it all evening. We were smart enough to start pea soup in the crockpot that morning, once again somehow picking the nastiest of days to get to come home to soup–I had planned to do that last Tuesday, not knowing at the time that it would be pouring down rain. We just relaxed on the couch in the afternoon, reading, playing on the computer, and snuggling the dogs. That evening, we just sat around even more, did a tiny bit of pre-Thanksgiving cleaning, and watched several episodes of Criminal Minds on tv before going to bed.

When I was getting ready for bed, Oliver went with me to the bedroom, and when I came out of the bathroom, he had made himself comfortable.

Yer bed. I made it warm for U.