I actually remembered to take some photos over the past several day, so I thought I’d share them with you today, along with a pasta recipe that I created last night…

First, this is a cat who loves to wander around the neighborhood and often comes up onto my grandma’s porch to drink from her pond, lay in the carport, or sunbathe on the grass. I assumed he was a naturally friendly cat because he allowed me to pet him and scratch behind his ears–in fact, he seemed to love the extra attention. However, my grandma was surprised when I told her this, saying that she was never able to pet him or get very close to him. Maybe I just smell like food or something…

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Yesterday I went hiking on Spencer Butte along with someone who will also be attending the U of O in the fall. The squirrel in the last picture seemed to be of a particularly bold breed, climbing right up onto the rock with us, reaching into the Ziplock bag, stealing some crackers, and eating them right next to us. I suppose most of the squirrels at the summit are accustomed to being around people, probably because they get fed. No, crackers aren’t part of a squirrel’s natural diet, but I hope they didn’t make him/her too sick.

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And finally, here is a picture of a sunset that I took from my bedroom one evening.

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Last night I made a pasta recipe that is somewhat similar to this one, though I think this “new and improved” version turned out to be tastier and less mushy than the previous one. Using rotini pasta instead of spaghetti also worked better, texture-wise. I didn’t take pictures of the cooking process, unfortunately, but I hope the instructions are clear enough.

Rotini Pasta with Marinara Sauce and Sweet Potato (not a particularly creative name, but it works)

1 sweet potato, cut into small chunks (see cooking instructions below) 

One 12-ounce box of rotini pasta

1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil

1 onion, chopped

4 or 5 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon of dried oregano leaves

1 tablespoon of dried basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt (use more if your tomatoes are unsalted)

Freshly ground black pepper to taste (AKA use as much as you want)

One 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, pureed (or you could just use crushed tomatoes instead, but all I had available was diced)

First, coat the diced sweet potato with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, spread onto a greased cookie sheet, and roast in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 20-30 minutes, until tender. Then set aside and let cool. Put a large pot of water on the stove to start boiling while you make the sauce.

Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute for about 5 minutes, until soft and golden-brown. Then add the sweet potato and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in the nutritional yeast, oregano, basil, sea salt, and pepper. After coating the mixture with the spices, add the pureed tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, the water should be boiling for the pasta. Cook it according to the package instructions, then drain and add the pasta to the simmering sauce on the stove top. Stir thoroughly to coat the pasta with the sauce, then remove from heat and serve! You could always add some shredded vegan Daiya cheese for an extra flair, or perhaps sprinkle more ground black pepper on top.

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It turned out to be a hearty and delicious dish, and satisfied the craving for pasta that I’d had ever since watching a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode on the Food Network in which Guy Fieri went to visit Pastabilities, a restaurant in New York. Even though 90% of the dishes on that show are not vegetarian or vegan, I still watch it and imagine how I could re-create the recipes without using meat, eggs, or dairy products. It’s actually quite an enjoyable activity and helps inspire me to create new recipes.

Anyway, I will finally be meeting with a counselor to schedule my college courses next Wednesday, the 24th, and classes begin the following Monday. Expect another post within the next week or so, and I hope you all have a wonderful day!


I’ve recently noticed two different commercials on TV that I find to be particularly absurd and illogical, so I decided to rant about them in this post–in a calm, practical, and dignified manner, of course. One is the Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Texas BBQ Thickburger commercial, and the other one is a Miller Lite commercial. You may have already watched both of them, but I’ll include them here for your viewing…pleasure?? No, “pleasure” doesn’t seem an appropriate word. Yes, I know these commercials are not meant to be taken seriously, but allow me my rambling anyway. And now my YouTube “recommended” channel will be full of beer and fast food advertisements, which is a shame, seeing as I don’t drink and avoid eating fast food.

 

 

Let’s start with the Hardee’s commercial. I suppose because it has the “holy trinity” of sexy women, cars, and juicy hamburgers, the scheming advertisers figured it would be a hit–at least if you are trying to appeal to a cardboard-cutout and stereotypical version of a man. And who knows–maybe it has truly increased sales of that cholesterol and saturated fat-laden Thickburger. Heck, maybe I’m just doubly biased because not only am I a woman, but I am also a vegetarian. Even if I DID eat meat, though, I certainly wouldn’t deck myself out in a skimpy bathing suit and wash my car while trying to eat a hamburger. It would just end up tasting all soapy and bitter due to cross-contamination. Either that or I’d drip hamburger juice and ketchup all over the car I was attempting to clean, making no progress whatsoever. Who decided it would be a good idea to eat food while cleaning your car? I can just imagine the extensive training these women must have gone through to learn how to wash a car AND eat a hamburger in a sensual manner. I’m sure those skills will come in handy later in their lives. Notice that in the commercial, the woman does take a bite of the burger, but the camera cuts away right after that, preferring not to reveal just how messy the process of eating a burger is. Because that would just make it SO much less sexy, right?? They mustn’t ruin the flawless image of the woman they are trying to sell…oh wait, the commercial is actually for a hamburger, not a woman. You could have fooled me. It’s not as though I feel personally insulted by this commercial, since it’s certainly not the first ad to sell fast food by inserting sexy actresses into the scene. I just enjoy poking fun at such advertisements in a lighthearted manner. Maybe you suspect that I am just secretly jealous because I don’t look gorgeous and sexy when I eat food or wash my car. I assure you this is not the case. I have no desire to primp myself and wear a bikini whenever I want to eat a [veggie] burger or scrub down a car–that would be too much work. Not to mention I could get arrested for indecent exposure or disturbing the peace.

 

As for the Miller Lite commercial, well, let’s look at the transcript of the ad from the YouTube video above:

“Miller invented light beer, the original 96 calorie pilsner, and that changed everything. This led to fewer guys with beer bellies. Which led to more women attracted to those guys. Which led to dates, second dates, wedding bells, and honeymoons. Which led to hubbada hubbada boom. Which led to you. Miller Lite, we invented light beer and you. You’re welcome.”

With all due respect, Miller Lite, you did NOT invent me, because I’m fairly sure that the reason my mom married my dad had very little to do with shrinking beer bellies or 96-calorie bottles of alcohol. Or maybe I’m just an exception? I doubt it, though. So there’s no need to say “you’re welcome,” because I am certainly not thanking you for anything. One of these days you should make a commercial showing the REAL effects of alcohol–not marriages or births, actually but hangovers, fatal car crashes, vomiting, hangovers, violence, drunken confessions, and car license suspensions. Preferably including all of these in one advertisement, just for emphasis. Oh, and if you want to talk about how babies are made, how about saying “which led to your parents having sex” instead of the vague and elusive ” which led to hubbada hubbada boom?” If you are bold enough to claim that alcohol is responsible for my very existence on earth, at least try not to be shy in talking about sex. Or are you prohibited from being overly honest about sexual intercourse on TV? Maybe so, but Viagra commercials haven’t been banned yet, so you should be OK. Oh, and just because a man lacks a beer belly doesn’t mean he will have a six-pack like the actor in your commercial. Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions about the supposed miracles of light beer.

OK, my rant is over. Thank you for listening. If you have any other commercials that should be subjected to my scathing analysis, please let me know–this was quite enjoyable to write.

Thoughts About My New Home

Posted: September 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, I promise I am still alive and kicking–I just haven’t felt motivated to post anything for the past couple of weeks, mainly because I am still trying to adjust to my new home in Eugene, Oregon. As I’ve mentioned before, but feel inclined to say again, my classes at the University of Oregon start on September 29th, and I will be meeting with a counselor and scheduling my classes (I am majoring in dance) during the “Week of Welcome” on September 24th. I feel incredibly grateful to be living with my grandma, not only because I am saving money on housing, but also because I am happy to have her companionship and her guidance. I will technically be a junior this fall, but I may have to graduate a little later since I got my Associate’s Degree in Science, not dance (I was dancing at a private studio five days a week alongside taking community college classes). Eugene, is definitely a unique town–unfortunately, I haven’t really taken any pictures of the gorgeous scenery in Eugene, but that’s what Google is for, right?? And I’d rather not share pictures of my grandma’s house for privacy reasons. Anyway, here are some things I’ve learned about Eugene so far…

1. Plastic bags are banned in retail businesses, and stores can charge you money (minimum 5 cents) for paper bags: Basically, this means you should always bring your own reusable bags whenever you go grocery shopping, unless you are willing to pay a small fee for having your groceries bagged. I’m glad that I learned this before going out and purchasing a ton of groceries, only to receive dirty looks from other customers when they see I don’t have my own bags. Just kidding, the people of Eugene wouldn’t do that ;)

2. You can bike/walk/take the bus just about everywhere: I wouldn’t necessarily say that a car is completely optional, but there are so many places within biking or walking distance: grocery stores, restaurants, parks, bike trails, yoga studios, dance studios, coffee shops, appliance stores, the mall, and more. This makes me happy, since I am still not a huge fan of driving, especially not in a new town. Plus, if you have a student ID card, you can ride the bus for free, which is a bonus for frugal college students such as myself.

3. You should make sure to always lock up your bike VERY securely: I had come to Oregon all prepared with a bike lock, only to be told that cable locks like the one I had are essentially useless, since they could be easily cut and destroyed. Ah well, live and learn. The employee at the bike shop recommended that I use a U-lock and a cable to wrap around my rear wheel and seat, since apparently it is common to have one’s bike (or parts of one’s bike) stolen if it is not locked up properly. Duly noted. Being the overly cautious person that I am, I will keep this advice in mind at all times.

4. You cannot pump your own gas in Oregon: Well, I knew this already before coming here  (as most people probably do), but I thought I’d mention it anyway. I suppose it is nice for people who have trouble getting out of their cars and moving around for whatever reason, though I do find it odd that only two states, Oregon and New Jersey, prohibit people from filling up their own cars with gas…

5. If you dislike outdoor activities, then Eugene probably isn’t the place for you: Thank goodness I am the type of person who loves hiking, biking, walking, and just being outside in general, because Eugene is chock-full of outdoor activities. I went for a bike ride yesterday along the Willamette River, and it felt wonderful to be surrounded by fields, flowers, hills, and other fauna. I did have to get accustomed to riding up hills again, though, since after three years of living in Illinois I was getting used to an almost completely flat bike riding experience. In between huffs and puffs, I found myself thinking Ah, so this is what it feels like to ride up hills! I had almost forgotten how it felt! I also hiked up Spencer’s Butte with my dad, older sister, and two year old niece the other day. The summit of this particular butte offers some great views, and I DO have a picture of this taken in April when we visited Eugene for spring break.

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6. If you are vegan or vegetarian (like myself), there are plenty of food choices for you: Not only is there a Market of Choice right by my grandma’s house (similar to a Whole Foods), but there are also several vegan/vegetarian restaurants scattered throughout the town. I probably won’t be visiting them very frequently, of course, since they aren’t all extremely affordable, but it’s nice to know that they are available if I win the lottery and suddenly have thousands of extra dollars to spend on fancy vegan food.

I’m sure I’ll learn even more as the weeks go by and I actually force myself to go out and socialize with people–which may not happen for a while. I joined a yoga studio that is a 15-20 minute walk away from my grandma’s house, and have been going there nearly every day to take classes. Though the classes are a bit different from what I’ve been used to at the yoga studio in Illinois, they are still enjoyable and challenging. I also recently obtained my Oregon driver’s license after poring over the driver’s manual and reminding myself of all the small details that you tend to forget after getting your driver’s license for the first time. I had to take a 35-question knowledge test and get at least 80% correct, and thanks to all the studying I did and practice tests I took, I passed fairly easily. The employees at the DMV were surprisingly cheerful and friendly, defying all stereotypes of DMV workers being sour-faced and impolite. Maybe it’s because they live in Eugene, as my dad said…Either way, it was nice to encounter such pleasant customer service ;) Since classes don’t start until the end of September, last week I began attending some drop-in adult ballet classes at a nearby dance studio twice a week to stay in “ballet shape.” The instructor there also teaches ballet at the U of O, which is good to know. The weather has been quite nice, sunny and in the 80’s and 90’s–however, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the infamous rain starts to appear more often. I did go for a bike ride one day when it started raining, but quickly realized that (1) riding in the rain is actually a rather pleasant experience and (2) no one pulled out umbrellas or rain coats, demonstrating that such equipment is not considered necessary, at least not for most people. It’s a good thing I don’t mind the rain!

That’s all I have for today, but I’ll try to post again sometime soon!

 

 


I am officially leaving tomorrow morning to fly out to Oregon with my dad, where I will begin taking classes at the University of Oregon on September 29th,  majoring in dance. I will be living with my grandma, whose house is a 10-15 minute drive from the campus, which will definitely help save me money on housing! Since I am a transfer student who got an Associate’s Degree in Science (not dance), I am not exactly sure how long it will take me to get my Bachelor’s Degree, but I’ll be taking it one step at a time…Anyway, I wanted to share a quick video of a ballet variation that I performed at my studio’s summer workshop performance earlier in August. The quality isn’t great since I filmed it with my phone off the performance DVD, but that’s OK–I wouldn’t want you to see my face anyway ;) I could go on and on about the mistakes I made and noticed after watching the video at least 10 times, but I don’t want to bore you all. So here it is.


As I mentioned in a previous post, I got my two upper wisdom teeth removed yesterday afternoon, and as I am not supposed to engage in any physical activity for at least a couple of days, I decided to write this post in an attempt to prevent myself from going stir-crazy. I got my lower wisdom teeth removed almost exactly two years ago, and so far this round is less painful than the previous one, probably because the upper wisdom teeth are generally easier to remove due to their root structure. I took one painkiller yesterday but have decided to avoid taking any more unless I am in excruciating pain, which hasn’t happened yet…I am also taking penicillin to prevent infections, though, and will try to finish out the dose as instructed by the oral surgeon. The whole procedure went smoothly yesterday, and I didn’t say or do anything crazy as a result of the anesthesia–lucky for me, though it probably would have been amusing to my mom, who had to drive me home afterward. I slept for five hours last night, then woke up at 3:30 AM to use the bathroom, which alerted our dog Maya, who decided to whine outside my door to be let outside. After taking her out, I lay awake for more than an hour–not because of the pain, which was fairly mild, but simply because I felt wired and oddly alert for some reason. At around 4:30 I randomly decided to write an entry for the Reader’s Digest 100-Word Story Column, which I edited and sent in this morning. Don’t ask me why I felt compelled to write at 4:30 in the morning; maybe my brain was still a bit frazzled from the anesthesia…Anyway, I have to spend the rest of today laying around and reminding myself that exercising is a BAD idea at this point because it could cause a blood clot to dislodge from my mouth. As a bonus addition to this post, I thought I’d share an 11-page paper that I wrote for my Philosophy class in the spring semester of 2013. It may be dull for some of you, but perhaps it will strike interest in others. The topic is Ethics and Morality, in case it wasn’t obvious ;)

How do we define what is “right” and what is “wrong?” This question has been examined and analyzed by many philosophers over the years. The two sides to the debate on ethics and morality are Utilitarianism and Kantianism. Utilitarianism is a theory that “answers all questions of what to do, what to admire, or how to live, in terms of maximizing utility or happiness” . Proponents of utilitarianism argue that the morality of an action depends solely on its consequences—whether or not it brings about happiness. The two types of Utilitarianism are: (1) Act Utilitarianism, which focuses on the morality of a single act, and (2) Rule Utilitarianism, which states that an action can only be considered moral if, when adopted as a rule, it will always produce the greatest amount of good. Kantianism, on the other hand, holds that “the rightness of an action depends on the principle (the “maxim”) on which the agent acts” . I would defend the position of Kantianism, and argue that the principles upon which people act are more important in deciding the morality of an action than are the mere consequences of an action.

 

One philosopher who defended utilitarianism was Jeremy Bentham. He was an “Act Utilitarianist,” because his theory of morality focuses on the consequences of a single action. In his essay entitled The Principle of Utility, Bentham defines the “principle of utility” as “…that principle which approves or disapproves of every action whatsoever, according to the tendency which it appears to have to augment or diminish the happiness of the party whose interest is in question” In other words, the principle of utility would “approve” of an action if it tended to increase the happiness of the people affected by the action. Bentham also theorized that pain and pleasure are the two crucial things that govern and guide people in everything they do.

 
Bentham believed that you could determine the morality of an action by summing up “all the values of all the pleasures on the one side, and those of all the pains on the other. The balance, if it be on the side of pleasure, will give the good tendency of the act upon the whole, with respect to the interests of that individual person; if on the side of pain, the bad tendency of it upon the whole” . So if a person chose to tell a “white lie” in order to avoid hurting the feelings of a friend, Bentham would consider this action to be morally sound if it created more pleasure than pain in the affected person. But Bentham admits that “It is not to be expected that this process should be strictly pursued previously to every moral judgment, or to every legislative or judicial operation. It may, however, be always kept in view…” After all, it would be difficult to pause before every judgment or action and analyze exactly how much pleasure or pain it would produce in each person affected by the action.

 

Another Utilitarianist was John Stuart Mill, who defended a slightly different type of utilitarianism than did Bentham, and was considered more of a “Rule Utilitarianist.” In his essay Utilitarianism, Mill states “…some kinds of pleasure are more desirable and more valuable than others. It would be absurd that while, in estimating all other things, the estimation of pleasures should be supposed to depend on quantity alone” . So while Bentham focused more on the amount of pleasure or pain, Mill emphasizes that the quality of the pleasure or pain was equally as important—if not more than—as the amount. He states that “a highly endowed being will always feel that any happiness which he can look for, as the world is constituted, is imperfect. But he can learn to bear these imperfections…It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied” Mill believes that it is better for a person to be knowledgeable and intelligent enough to recognize the difference between “insignificant” and “significant” pleasures, even if it means he or she may not be completely happy, than to be a “less endowed” being who is satisfied with “lower” pleasures.

 
In regards to Rule Utilitarianism, Mill explains “To do as you would be done by, and to love your neighbor as yourself, constitute the ideal perfection of utilitarian morality…” . Mill emphasizes that the “interest of the whole” should be considered as important as an individual’s interest, and suggests following a slightly-altered version of the “Golden Rule.” Therefore, he could be considered a Rule Utilitarianist since he focuses on general principles (“love your neighbor as yourself” and “do as you would be done by”) that should be adopted as guidelines to follow when determining the morality of an action.

 
Like Bentham, Mill refers to the objection that “there is not time, previous to action, for calculating and weighing the effects of any line of conduct on the general happiness…” but responds that “The answer to this objection is, that there has been ample time, namely the whole past duration of the human species” So Mill believes that we have had hundreds of years in which to discover what is beneficial for the “interest of the whole.” Mill also points out that “It is not the fault of any creed, but of the complicated nature of human affairs, that rules of conduct cannot be so framed as to require no exceptions…” In other words, no creed can possibly ensure that nobody commits immoral acts—humans have free will, regardless of what creed they may belong to.

 
As for the official sanction of the Principle of Utility, the thing that gives it its “binding force,” Mill believes it is “the same as of all other moral standards—the conscientious feelings of mankind” . So this particular sanction exists only in the mind, and can be ignored by people who do not possess such feelings. Mill theorizes that moral feelings are not innate, must be acquired through careful cultivation, and are not necessarily present in everyone. He admits that the moral faculty “is also susceptible, by a sufficient use of the external sanctions and of the force of early impressions, of being cultivated in almost any direction…” So if a person is raised with the belief that it is morally acceptable (or even encouraged) to hate people of another race, his or her moral faculty is being “cultivated” in a negative direction, as opposed to a positive one. But Mill believes that there is a strong foundation for utilitarian morality, which he describes as “that of the social feelings of mankind; the desire to be in unity with our fellow creatures, which is already a powerful principle in human nature…”

 
As for proving the principle of utility, Mill states that “the only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it…In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people actually do desire it” . In other words, because we desire something, that thing is desirable. Mill emphasizes that (1) the only things that are desirable are those that bring us happiness, (2) that happiness is the main end of our actions, and (3) that virtue, like happiness, should also be desired—but desired for itself, not necessarily because it brings us happiness.

 
But not all philosophers agree with the principle of Utilitarianism. One such philosopher was Immanuel Kant. In Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant proposes that the reasons for performing a specific action are more important in determining its morality than the consequences. He states that “A good will is not good because of what it effects or accomplishes—because of its fitness for attaining some proposed end: it is good through its willing alone—that is, good in itself” While Kant admits that values such as courage and intelligence are important, he believes that without the guidance of a good will—the only thing “good in itself”—such values can be harmful. For example, a person with great intelligence but no good will could use his or her capabilities to create some deadly biological weapon—whereas if he or she possessed a good will, this would not happen. Kant also emphasizes that only actions done from duty, as opposed to some selfish inclination, can be considered genuinely moral.

 
Kant goes on to describe two types of imperatives (commands that necessitate certain actions). The two types are hypothetical and categorical: the difference between the two is that “hypothetical imperatives are consequential; they are obeyed for their consequences. But the categorical imperatives are not obeyed for their consequences, but for their own sake” So if a wealthy woman donated money to a charity in order to gain admiration and attention (the consequence), then she would be acting by a hypothetical imperative. But if she donated money out of a sense of duty, not for any personal gain, then she would be acting by a categorical imperative. There are two parts of Kant’s Categorical Imperative. The first one is “Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a UNIVERSAL LAW OF NATURE” and the second one is “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end” .

 
An example of the first imperative might be this: You decide to run through a red light because you are in a hurry and the road is almost deserted. But before making this decision, you must ask yourself “Do I want this principle (It is OK to run through red lights when in a hurry) to become a universal law? Do I want everyone else to follow this rule?” The answer will likely be no, since it is clear that if the maxim “It is acceptable to go through red lights when one is in a hurry” is adopted as a universal law, chaos would ensue, and many people would suffer. As for the second imperative, a possible example may be this: You praise, flatter, and become friends with a classmate whose father owns a restaurant that you want to work at, just so that he or she can recommend you to his or her father for the job. In this case, you would have been treating your classmate merely as a means to get the end you desired—the job at the restaurant. Kant emphasizes that we should not do this, but rather treat people as ends in themselves.

 
Kant also mentions the concept of a “kingdom of ends,” a “community” of rational beings under common laws. He states that “In the kingdom of ends everything has either a price or a dignity. If it has a price, something else can be put in its place as an equivalent; if it is exalted above all price and so admits of no equivalent, then it has a dignity” He explains that morality is the only thing that has dignity, because only through morality can a rational being be a “law making member” in this particular kingdom of ends. And in making these laws, a person must ensure that the first categorical imperative is followed: that all these rules could hypothetically become a universal law of nature.

 
The philosopher J. David Velleman also agreed with many of Kant’s theories, though he differed slightly from Kant in some of them. In A Brief Introduction to Kantian Ethics, Velleman explains that “…the requirements of morality, being categorical, leave no room for questions about why we ought to obey them. Kant therefore concluded that moral requirements must not depend for their force on any external source of authority” This is because we can always choose to question an authority figure such as the president—and as Kant claimed that moral duties are inescapable, their force must not depend on a questionable authority figure. Velleman concludes that “The requirement to act for reasons thus seems to come as close as any requirement can to having intrinsic authority, in the sense of being authoritative by virtue of what it requires. This requirement therefore comes as close as any requirement can to being inescapable” He clarifies this by explaining that acting for reasons that are valid for ALL people is the authoritative force behind moral actions. In other words, these reasons must be “good enough” to apply to all people in all situations.

 
Velleman later proposes the following hypothetical situation: You normally wake up early in the mornings in order to swim laps at the pool and stay in shape, but one morning you simply don’t feel like doing this. So you start trying to think of a good reason why you “can’t” go to the pool this morning, because the excuse of “I don’t feel like it” just isn’t good enough. Velleman states that Kant’s explanation for needing a valid excuse was “that acting for reasons is essential to being a person…” So our desire to act for reasons that are valid for all situations is a crucial part of what makes us human. And we have the ability to sense that the excuse of “I just don’t feel like it” cannot be held as a universally valid excuse—what if a policeman just “didn’t feel like” doing his job? Or a security guard? Or a teacher?

 
Velleman does disagree with Kant’s theories in one case: He states that “I think Kant’s mistake was to claim that we must act under the idea of freedom; what he should have said, I think, is that we must act under the idea of autonomy” Both he and Kant agree that “acting for reasons” is what makes us autonomous. But Velleman believes that we can be autonomous without necessarily having complete free will, whereas Kant claimed that we must have free will in order to be autonomous. Velleman believes that Kant was also wrong to claim that reasons can owe their authority to us. Because if we were able to give authority to reasons, then we would also be able to take authority away from them—which would contradict the central idea that the principle “act for reasons” has intrinsic authority and is inescapable.

 
Based upon these different viewpoints, I would support the position of Kantianism, as I do not agree that we can determine the morality of an action simply by its consequences or its tendency to bring about happiness. Bentham’s idea of “summing up” the values of pain and pleasure seems too simplistic and naïve; such abstract concepts cannot be added up like numbers. If the act of a desperately poor man stealing food brings about more pleasure than pain, does that mean it is automatically moral? Of course, such an action would probably not be considered moral under rule utilitarianism, but even this principle of utility is not flawless. And though Mill at least admitted that some pleasures are higher quality than others, his idea that happiness is the only thing desirable seems to be flawed. Don’t people often desire things that do not truly bring them happiness, such as drugs or alcohol? And how exactly can we define “happiness?” What makes one person happy may not bring happiness to everyone.

 
The principles of Kantianism seem more logical and reasonable than those of Utilitarianism. Kant’s emphasis on the necessity of a good will guiding one’s actions holds a great deal of truth to it—though Mill also mentioned the importance of virtues, he failed to mention, as Kant did, that such virtues can tend toward negative consequences if not properly cultivated by a good will. Certainly, it sounds virtuous enough to do as Mill advised and “do as you would be done by.” But, for example, what if you had developed a hatred for humanity, and wanted other people to hate and fear you as well? Does that mean you should continue to despise other people, since that is what you “want for yourself?” Yes, Mill did state that we should desire to obtain virtues. But even a person possessing attributes such as intelligence or determination can perform immoral acts, such as the building of a deadly weapon mentioned earlier. Our virtues must be guided by a good will in order to prevent them from tending toward negative ends.

 
Kant’s categorical imperatives seem like a better way of ensuring moral actions than do Mill’s ideas. Admittedly, it can be difficult to always apply Kant’s first imperative before taking action, and it is not always easy to tell whether a particular maxim should become a “universal law.” But in many situations, keeping this imperative in mind may prevent you from making immoral decisions. As for Kant’s second imperative, I completely agree that we should treat people as “ends” and not “means.” If we were merely focusing on “increasing our happiness,” regardless of the motives behind our actions, we could end up using people as “tools” to get what we desire.
Of course, someone could object to this argument by asking “But aren’t the consequences of an action more important than the motivations behind it? Why should it matter if a person acts from good intentions, as long as the result is good? Couldn’t a person act from a sense of moral duty, but still end up causing a negative event?” This certainly could be true in some cases, but the chances of a person acting from a “good will” constantly causing terrible things to happen are slim. Also, sometimes unhappy things have to happen in order for us to learn and grow. If we were always increasing everyone’s happiness, focusing on the consequences of our actions instead of the motivations behind them, people may prefer not to do or say anything that could possibly induce debate or conflict, sacrificing their moral values in order to make everything run as smoothly as possible. We shouldn’t be completely happy all of the time. It is only through tests and difficulties, combined with a good will and other virtues, that we can work toward world unity and happiness.

 
In conclusion, I would support the position of Kantianism, and argue that the morality of an action should be determined not by its consequences alone, but rather by the guiding principles, motivations, and maxims behind it.

[1] Blackburn, Simon. The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Oxford, Great Britain: Oxford University Press, 1994. 388. Print.

[2] Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 451. Print.

[3] Bentham, Jeremy. “The Principle of Utility.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 458. Print.

[4] Bentham, Jeremy. “The Principle of Utility.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 459. Print.

[5] Bentham, Jeremy. “The Principle of Utility.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 460. Print.

[6] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 462. Print.

[7] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 463. Print.

[8] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 464. Print.

[9] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 467. Print.

[10] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 468. Print.

[11] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 470. Print.

[12] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 471. Print.

[13] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 471. Print.

[14] Mill, John Stuart. “Utilitarianism.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 471. Print.

[15] Kant, Immanuel. “Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 505. Print.

[16] Seung, T.K. Kant: A Guide for the Perplexed. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2007. Print.

[17] Kant, Immanuel. “Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 511-513. Print.

[18] Kant, Immanuel. “Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 516. Print.

[19] Velleman, J. David. “A Brief Introduction to Kantian Ethics.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 522. Print.

[20] Velleman, J. David. “A Brief Introduction to Kantian Ethics.”  Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 523. Print.

[21] Velleman, J. David. “A Brief Introduction to Kantian Ethics.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 524. Print.

[22] Velleman, J. David. “A Brief Introduction to Kantian Ethics.” Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. John Perry, Michael Bratman, John Martin Fisher. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 530. Print.

 


Ever since reading the book Marley and Me, I always make an automatic mental connection between the delicious and juicy mango fruit and the unfortunate laxative effect that it would have on the poor yellow lab Marley. Oddly enough, though, constantly linking mangoes with piles of runny dog feces doesn’t make the fruit any less appealing to me–it’s price tag, however, is another story. Still, we recently bought a huge bag of frozen mango chunks from Costco for a decent price, which inspired me to create the following smoothie recipe. I just hope that the aforementioned anecdote didn’t put a damper on your enthusiasm for eating mangoes–hey, at least you know that mangoes probably aren’t the best fruit to feed your dog! Not unless you enjoy scooping up liquid feces from your yard, anyway…That being said, I suppose mangoes may not have such a detrimental effect on ALL dogs; maybe Marley just had a sensitive digestive system. Anyway, enough discussion on bodily excretions–on to the extraordinarily simple recipe.

Mango-Cinnamon Smoothie

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 and 1/2 cups of vanilla almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)

1 ripe frozen banana, chopped into small chunks

1/2 a cup of frozen mango chunks

Combine all ingredients in a blender (I used our Vitamix) and blend until smooth and creamy, adding more almond milk if your blender stalls and makes a loud grinding noise–speaking from personal experience here. You could always omit the cinnamon if you are not a fan of this spice in your smoothies.

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I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

The Next Stage in My Life

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Uncategorized

I know it’s been quite a while since I last discussed what has been going on in my life lately–mainly because I don’t want to discuss EVERY single personal detail of my daily activities on a public blog (never a good idea), and also because I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for this next stage in my life. At the end of August, I will be moving to Eugene, Oregon; living with my grandma; and attending the University of Oregon to finish up my Bachelor’s Degree. For those of you who are new to my blog, I have been attending a community college for the past couple of years, and received my Associate’s Degree in Science in May 2014. However, I plan on majoring in dance at the U of O, since I’ve been dancing 5 days a week at my ballet studio for the past few years. I have also considered either (1) double-majoring in dance and psychology or human physiology or (2) majoring in dance and getting a minor in some other field. I still haven’t completely decided, but I hope that I can discuss these ideas with my counselor when I attend orientation in September. Since the U of O doesn’t have a particularly ballet-intense dance program (from what I’ve heard), I hope to also take some classes at the Eugene Ballet Academy, which is affiliated with the Eugene Ballet company. Even though it will be tough to leave behind my parents, siblings, and friends here in Illinois, I am greatly looking forward to living in Eugene, a town filled with some of my favorite things in the world: incredible hiking and biking trails, beautiful mountains and rivers, a plethora of vegan restaurants, several yoga studios, and an environmentally-friendly attitude. Oh, and people generally drive AT the speed limit or even under in Eugene, which is an additional bonus ;) There are some crazy drivers in the Chicago suburbs, let me tell you…Since I was born in Oregon and lived there for 10-ish years, it almost feels as though I am “returning home” in a sense, though I wasn’t born in Eugene. Plus, I will be far closer to several of my family members, most of whom live on the west coast in Washington or Oregon. Still, there are several things that I am anxious about: getting an Oregon’s driver’s license, trying to find a part-time job, establishing a solid academic plan for my next two years of college, and attempting to navigate my way around the huge U of O campus without getting hopelessly lost. It will be an interesting and complex transition, that’s for sure, but I am trying to approach it in a calm and organized manner. Needless to say, that goal isn’t exactly working out very well. I had always assumed that once I was 20 years old and in college, I would have my life all planned out and know exactly what my future would hold, career-wise. Ah, how blissfully naive I was!! Still, I suppose I just have to take it one step at a time, try to breath, and not get too anxious about the whole process.

On a different note, tomorrow is my summer workshop dance performance–one final recital with the group of dancers whom I have come to know and bond with over the past three years. I will definitely miss every single one of them when I leave–from the sweet pre-ballet students who brought me so many smiles when I taught them plies and tendus; to the upper-level dancers with whom I shared the stage in several performances. I am looking forward to the show tomorrow, and I feel immensely grateful for everything I’ve learned from both the teachers and my fellow students over the years. Even though I’ve always been one of the oldest students in class (if not THE oldest for quite a while), they’ve always been incredibly patient and kind toward me, and have never belittled me for being older yet unable to execute some of the steps as cleanly as the younger girls. OK, I will stop my sap-fest here before I start to sound like a particularly cheesy Hallmark card ;) On a slightly less cheery note, I will be getting my final two wisdom teeth pulled about a week before I leave for Oregon–sounds fun, right?? I got my lower wisdom teeth pulled about two years ago, but my top ones hadn’t started to impact until a few months ago. Though the process went smoothly last time, with no dry sockets or completely unbearable pain, I am not exactly looking forward to laying on the couch with gauze in my mouth, drooling and eating only soft food for at least a few days. Plus, I have to take antibiotics to prevent infections, which I am dreading–since antibiotics kill off the good bacteria as well as the bad, they will probably disrupt my immune system and digestion. Still, I suppose it would be rather dangerous to NOT take the antibiotics, since cavernous holes in your gum are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria…A lose-lose situation, that’s for sure. And even though I HATE taking painkillers of any kind, I have a feeling that I may need to cave in and take them anyway if I want to sleep at night, when the pain is particularly bad. I wish I didn’t have to get them removed, but they are coming in crooked and my mouth simply isn’t big enough to fit them in without causing dental issues. Gosh, now I sound completely whiny and self-absorbed, just because I have to get a couple of teeth pulled. I’ll stop complaining now and remind myself that I should be grateful for having the opportunity to get them taken out before they cause problems.

I do apologize for this being such a word-heavy and picture-light post; I simply don’t take pictures of everything I do/eat/read on a regular basis, so I don’t have tons of photos on my iPhone ready to be uploaded. However, I do have (1) a few rather adorable pictures of our two dogs (first two are of Maya and the third is of Kaden) and (2) a couple of my recent Facebook posts that you may find interesting and/or amusing, so I’ll give you those as a finale to this post. A quick note about our dear dog Maya, a vizsla/weimaraner mix: in one of the photos, she is cuddling with her toy squeaky fox, since she has a strong attachment to her squeaky animals. She currently has a fox, a beaver, a skunk, and what used to be a squirrel, as well as 15-20 different bones scattered around the house. Did I mention she is spoiled? Kaden, our 7-year old black lab/border collie mix, never even tries to take her toys–either he is too much of a “gentledog” or he simply isn’t interested.

photo 1 (17)

photo 2 (16)

 

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Facebook post #1:

OK, so this new sci-fi movie “Lucy” that is being released later this year looks interesting and action-packed, but it happens to be based on a premise that has proven to be a total myth/urban legend/fallacy: that humans use only 10% of their brains. Numerous scientific studies indicate that we use far more than 10% of our brain’s capabilities–at the very least, it seems as though they could have avoided this specific claim, instead saying something along the lines of “We have not yet tapped into all the powers of the human mind.” When I heard Morgan Freeman state this 10% myth in the trailer, I couldn’t help but think “Really?? Didn’t the producers of this movie think about researching this claim? Or maybe they did and just didn’t care if it would cause an uproar in the science community?” No, I suppose I cannot state with 100% certainty that this myth is 100% false, mainly because it is extremely difficult to calculate how much of our brain we can use in terms of a percentage. However, it irks me slightly that the screenwriters and producers would have fallen back on such a popular and overused urban legend to make their movie more dramatic. After all, the difference between 10% and 100% is a fairly large disparity, which is perhaps why they chose it. Regardless of my scientific rant, though, I’ll probably watch the movie anyway, as soon as it comes out on DVD. I am sure it will be entertaining, if nothing else.

Facebook post #2:

Why, exactly, do some brands of toilet paper have such fancy designs on them?? Flowers, swirls, hearts, etc…I assume it is some type of grand marketing scheme to attract the attention of consumers, but considering what ends up on the toilet paper, I doubt that many people spend time admiring the artistic detail that goes into its production…Sure, I suppose toilet paper is more sanitary and comfortable than leaves or corn cobs, but that doesn’t mean we need to spend extra money on “extra soft” or “quilted” toilet paper. It all ends up in the toilet eventually, covered in waste products. If you search for “novelty toilet paper” under Google Images, you may be surprised by how many options there are–the perfect gift for that special someone!! Over the past several centuries, toilet paper has certainly transformed from a practical necessity to a highly commercialized product with as many options and varieties as a jar of peanut butter. And who knows what will happen in the future? Maybe glow-in-the-dark toilet paper? Oh wait, that already exists. Somehow, I am not surprised.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 


Well, it’s time for my third installment in the “examining ballets from a logical standpoint” series–as promised in my previous post, I am going to tackle Giselle this time around. It is classified as a romantic ballet, and while it has a rather tragic conclusion, some of the more ludicrously illogical parts tend to verge on comedy, at least in my opinion. Enough preliminary talk; let’s get right to it…

Title: Giselle

The gist of the plot: The main character is a blissfully sweet and rather naive peasant woman named–you guessed it–Giselle. At the beginning of the ballet, it is revealed that Giselle (1) has a weak heart (literally speaking) and (2) is in love with Duke Albrecht, a man who is already engaged to the Princess Bathilde–and who has disguised himself as a peasant so that Giselle cannot recognize his true identity. Giselle, of course, has no idea that her lover has already promised to marry a rich and decidedly un-peasant like princess, so when Bathilde comes to the village with a hunting party, the two women get along just fine, completely unaware of what a “player” their beloved Albrecht is. Meanwhile, a peasant man named Hilarion is deeply in love with Giselle, but this love is obviously not reciprocated, since Giselle is in love with Albrecht. However, Hilarion gets brief revenge when he discovers Albrecht’s sword hidden in a house, and realizes that this man is not who he claims to be. He reveals the truth to Giselle, who goes insane with grief and a strong sense of betrayal, dances wildly around, and dies when her heart gives out (again, literally speaking).

Now I need to introduce the Wilis, who are essentially the ghosts of women who have been betrayed by their lovers. After Giselle dies, she becomes a Wili herself, thanks to Albrecht’s immoral behavior. The queen of the Wilis is named Myrtha, a cold and brutal spirit who, along with her gang of Wilis, takes pleasure in forcing men to dance until they die from exhaustion. While Hilarion is visiting Giselle’s grave, the Wilis pay him a visit and, after forcing him to dance for a long period of time, decide to drown him in a lake. Albrecht nearly suffers the same fate, but Giselle’s passionate love saves him somehow (vague, I know), and when daylight comes, the spirits return to their graves, leaving Albrecht grief-stricken and in dire need of some seriously deep counseling sessions. The end!! Wasn’t that cheerful??

My questions and observations: First of all, even though Giselle was a  kind and cheerful young woman, she probably should have paid closer attention to the warnings of both her mother and Hilarion. If BOTH of them were discouraging her from having a relationship with Albrecht, then perhaps they had good reason for doing so. Didn’t it strike her as slightly suspicious that her lover just happened to disappear when Princess Bathilde appeared in the village? I guess love does crazy things to your mind…I have absolutely zero personal experience with romantic love, though, so I am just throwing out a wild guess here. Anyway, Albrecht must have been quite the charming philanderer, seeing as he managed to convince both Giselle and Bathilde that nothing suspicious was going on. He probably wasn’t the brightest duke, though; how long did he think he could pull off this elaborate ruse?? Stop philandering around and just CHOOSE one of the women, for pity’s sake. As for Giselle’s death, I’ll be a little less harsh on the whole dying-from-grief idea since she DID have a physically weak heart. However, I think it would have been a slightly more exciting (and less cliche) story if Giselle had instead become enraged and cooked up an elaborate plot to humiliate Albrecht and strip him of his royal title. Wishful thinking on my part, though, since it IS a romantic ballet, and I suppose Giselle’s death makes it more dramatic…Albrecht was certainly despondent about Giselle’s death, but he should have seen it coming a million miles away–didn’t he realize it was only a matter of time until she discovered his secret?

Also, what’s the deal with these Wilis?? Sure, I understand that they were betrayed by men in their lifetime, but why do they simply wander the forest and kill ANY man they happen to see? Isn’t that rather unfair? I bet people would make more of a fuss if it had been male ghosts wandering around and murdering women. However, this isn’t Gender Studies 101, so I won’t dwell on that problem in this post. On a related note, did Giselle CHOOSE to come back as a Wili, or was it sort of a no-choice-in-the-matter contract? And don’t Myrtha and her misandrist gang of spirits have anything better to do than go around torturing men? Even though Hilarion may have been a jealous and possessive man, I still don’t understand why the Wilis had to kill him and not Albrecht–at least he wasn’t the one who cheated on Giselle, right? However, no one said that spirits always act in a just and fair manner…Apparently, Giselle was only able to save the man who she loved, though perhaps that was because she didn’t rise from the grave before the other Wilis killed Hilarion. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt for now. Still, now Albrecht has to live with the fact that his previous girlfriend is part of a band of man-killing spirits, which will probably inflict some mental trauma to say the least.

Overall, though, the lovely music and choreography of this ballet help counteract the shakier parts of the plot, so I won’t be too harsh ;) I hope you all enjoy the remainder of your weekend!


Sorry, Shakespeare, for ripping off your famous quote to use in a post about far more trivial topics than those of betrayal, murder, love, etc…But I just had to do it. Besides, I am sure your words have been exploited hundreds of times over the years, more than you can count. Or could count, if you were still alive. May you rest in sonnet-filled peace. Anyway, don’t worry–this isn’t going to be some venomous post bashing the evils of makeup and clamoring for all women to just “show your natural beauty!!” Just because I choose not to wear makeup (except for dance performances) doesn’t mean I would write an entire post on how ridiculous, vain, excessive, and trivial makeup is. I am not about to start ascribing human characteristics to a collection of facial pastes, powders, and creams. Nor will I argue that people who wear makeup are overly concerned with their outward appearance, because the choice of whether or not to wear makeup doesn’t necessarily reflect on your inner characteristics and virtues. Now, I could just stop the post here, say “wearing makeup is a simple personal choice and nothing more,” and sign off for the day. However, if you know my thinking and writing style, I am not one to just drop a topic so easily without first ruminating on it, over-analyzing it, discussing it in great depth, and examining both viewpoints on it. Can you tell why I can be a very indecisive person? Ah, and as a quick note, I realize that many men choose to wear makeup, but I am referring to only”she” in this post because I didn’t want to write male/female, him/her, etc…every few sentences.

The reason I never started wearing makeup was because I had an intense phobia of spreading any type of cream, paste, etc…on my face and couldn’t even apply sunscreen without having a slight panic attack. OK, not really; I just thought that would be more exciting than the truth. In all honesty, I simply never felt the need to wear makeup, and considered it a waste of precious time and money. I could actually be a rather practical adolescent at times. Perhaps it was partly due to the fact that I was homeschooled my entire life until college and never felt any type of peer pressure to improve the physical beauty of my face. However, correlation does not prove causation, so I can’t simply state that homeschoolers are less likely to wear makeup. That, my friends, would be a risky claim that would require a great deal of research to support it. Plus, my older sister wears makeup, and she too was homeschooled until college. So I won’t dwell any more upon that particular hypothesis. Anyway, fast-forward to 2014, and here I am, 20 years old and still never wearing makeup (except for the aforementioned ballet performances). I prefer not to wear it on a daily basis, so I don’t. The majority of my female friends and family members prefer wearing makeup, so they do. It’s as simple as that. Well, maybe not quite so simple, but I’ll touch upon that topic momentarily. Does my face look ugly and unattractive without makeup? Maybe, maybe not. It all depends on who you ask, I suppose. “Beautiful” is such a subjective word. I know some people enjoy putting on makeup because it is a form of artistic expression for them–and there’s nothing wrong with that. For me, it is a tedious and unpleasant task, so I avoid it at all costs.

One thing that DOES irk me is when people construe the act of not wearing makeup into some grandiose “feminist” related action. First of all, according to my sociology professor, a feminist is simply a person who believes that men and women should be treated equally and have equal opportunities. Not all “feminists” support abortion, shun makeup, or hate men. However, you probably know how much I despise such vague labels in general, so I’ll stop ranting about the whole “feminist” title for now. Anyway, not all women choose to abandon makeup because they are trying to “make a point” or prove something to the world–maybe they just don’t enjoy wearing it! Perhaps this is why those popular “makeup-free” challenges have always baffled me slightly, since I don’t think choosing not to wear makeup is truly some incredible or “courageous” act. Maybe that sounds a bit harsh and critical, so let me elaborate a bit. Just because I don’t wear makeup doesn’t mean I am some heroic or revolutionary person, and I certainly don’t want to be admired or praised for such a simple and trivial decision. However, I understand that for some people, especially those who wear makeup on a regular basis, choosing to abandon their daily primping ritual does require a certain degree of determination and maybe even a bit of courage. It’s not my job to categorize acts into “courageous” and “not courageous,” even ones as simple as tossing out your lipstick and blush.

So, the million dollar question is probably this: Why DO we wear makeup? Just like many other questions, there is not one simple answer (is there ever?). If you read any anti-makeup/”you’re beautiful just the way you are” article online or in a magazine, there will almost certainly be comments saying something along the lines of “Hey, why do you assume we wear makeup to attract men (or women)?? Maybe we wear it for ourselves!! Maybe it makes us feel beautiful and confident!!” This could certainly be true for some people, and I don’t doubt the validity of this statement. However, if you were going to be in solitary confinement with no mirrors for an entire day, would you put on makeup? Probably not. Well, maybe you would, though this seems unlikely. I realize this is a rather extreme example, but I doubt that every single female wears makeup “just for herself.” No, they don’t necessarily wear it to attract romantic or sexual attention, but there are probably other reasons that involve not just themselves but the people with whom they interact. Most people on earth (yes, even myself–I am not a perfect angel) DO care, at least slightly, about how they look to other people, so I don’t think wearing makeup is an entirely selfless act done simply for your own pleasure. At least not in most cases. We want to look pretty, handsome, put-together, or at least decent when we go out in public, which is why I don’t walk into the grocery store in my semi-see through camisole top and yoga shorts. Also, I know some women may say they wear makeup because it makes them feel more confident and comfortable in their bodies. While I can’t understand how putting stuff on your face increases one’s confidence, this could certainly be a plausible reason. Just because this reasoning doesn’t make sense to me doesn’t mean it isn’t valid. Maybe some people wear it simply because it is fun and enjoyable. And for some people, as I mentioned earlier, putting on makeup is a form of artistic expression; they enjoy experimenting with different colors, styles, patterns, etc…

I’ve noticed that while wearing makeup is completely “normal” in our culture, there seems to be a fine line between a “normal” amount of makeup and “too much” makeup–at least according to some people. It is somewhat akin to having a tan: nicely bronzed skin is something to be admired and sought out, but you don’t want to be TOO tan, for fear of looking like you’ve been eating too many carrots and squash. These distinctions seem to be rather arbitrary and absurd–are these people trying to say that wearing mascara and lipstick is perfectly fine, but too much eyeshadow classifies you as “weird?” Or that going to a tanning booth is acceptable, as long as you don’t get overly tan? I’ve heard my sister mention that certain people in her school wear “too much” makeup, but how much is “too much?” If you have no problem with people wearing makeup, then why should you judge people who seem to be wearing “excessive” amounts? Not that my sister is always judgmental toward such people, but I know some people may be. Heck, I know I’ve made snap judgments about people based on their makeup, so I am certainly guilty in that respect. The important thing is not to let these judgments affect our long-term behavior toward these people, or prevent us from analyzing these split-second assumptions and thinking Hmmm…maybe I shouldn’t be so judgmental simply because of their physical appearance. 

Makeup has been around for thousands of years, at least back to the time of the ancient Egyptians, and I don’t think it will be going “out of style” anytime soon. Or maybe it will at some point, when either (1) the price of cosmetics shoots up and people can no longer justify spending money on such products, (2) everyone simply loses interest in wearing makeup, or (3) some scientific discovery indicates that wearing makeup will almost certainly give you cancer. However, since none of these scenarios seem particularly realistic, chances are that people will continue applying lipstick, blush, eye-shadow, mascara, and other such products at least for the next several decades or so. I do NOT consider myself to be a “better” person simply because I choose not to wear makeup, put on jewelry, style my hair, or go shopping for clothes on a regular basis ( clothes shopping is one of my least favorite activities in the entire universe). These are simply personal choices that I have made, and do not make me any wiser or less shallow than my friends and family members who do choose to take part in such activities. Yes, I do think it’s ridiculous that certain jobs can require (or at least pressure) women to wear makeup. Yes, I do think that many cosmetic products are unnecessarily expensive (that’s the thrifty college student in me speaking). Yes, I do sometimes find it difficult to understand why some people feel as though they need to wear makeup every day. However, I would never claim that people who wear makeup are shallow or vain, because that would be both a huge generalization and an insult to all those wonderful, kind, and generous makeup-wearing people in the world.

So now that I’ve rambled on longer than excepted, I’ll turn the conversation over to my readers. Do you wear makeup on a regular basis? Why or why not? Do you agree or disagree with my opinions regarding makeup? Feel free to share any thoughts/rants/questions/criticisms! I promise I won’t censor your comments or be offended by your opinions ;)


The theme for this month’s Recipe Redux was “A Spirited Redux,” in which we could use any type of liquor or spirit, ranging from extracts (vanilla, lemon, etc…) to wine. Since I don’t drink alcohol for legal, personal, and religious reasons (I am only 20, but I don’t plan on drinking even when I turn 21), I decided to use lemon extract as my “spirit” of choice. Though it technically contains alcohol, as many extracts do, it is essentially a negligible amount when you use only 1/4 a teaspoon or so. So here is the recipe I created…

Lemon-Maple Almond Butter

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons of vanilla almond milk

1/4 a teaspoon of lemon extract

1 tablespoon of maple syrup

1/3 a cup of almond butter

Simply combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. The maple syrup helps counter the tartness of the lemon juice, making it both sweet and sour.

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I hope you enjoy the rest of your day! Here is the link where you can view other Recipe Redux submissions…