Tuesday, January 21, 2003

21 Jan 2003

Why do I write in such a small journal? Is there a benefit to the reader and grader to squint and squeeze their eyes nearly shut to make out these chicken scratchings? Perhaps not. But for me, the writer, there are a few benefits for using this small journal. First, it is portable, fitting easily into my shirt pocket, making it easily accessible for inspired moments. Second, it is cheap, costing me nothing at all - being something my parents purchased for me at some time when we were living in Japan (notice the English diction printed on the cover*). Finally, the reuse makes any consumption of paper products more efficient; why buy new when I already have a suitable alternative? (This last point makes me wonder about the environmentally friendly aspect of e-mail over the written snail mail...) For these three reasons of accessibility, economy, and environmental efficiency, I ask the reader to please bear the burden of squinting.

[Grader comment: "No problem!"]
*This notebook is well bound with auto matic excellentic machine
makes you demonstrate your and pride.
Get acquainted with it, and you'll start a relationship that will last a lifetime.

21 Jan 2003

An article over the weekend was discussing the possible loss of Rev. King's message, with his icon being used to support and advertise a variety of goods, services, and ideologies. The same can happen to Earth Day. Although there isn't a singe person responsible for Earth Day, the message of environmental concern may be usurped by individuals and individuals within corporations to support what Aldo Leopold (or was it Arne Naess?) called "shallow ecology"? As more companies attempt to pursue "greener" policies, I wonder if previously obvious consumerism will be replaced by insidious consumerism of the "green" corporatism. The only hope one that this will not happen is the visual and written record of the environmental movement. It is the only way we have of relieving a past we were not personally a part of. The lessons we may learn of the consequences of MLK Day may be a helpful lens.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

16 Jan 2003

Few buildings even on the North Campus are as dreary as Lorch Hall. I used to say that a university's wealth can be seen in its economics department's opulence. However, in the case of the University of Michigan, I wonder if this really holds true. Although it is a very grand structure, it seems as if built for giants; basketball players would even feel dwarfed walking down the oversized hallways. But it isn't the size itself that is dreary, but the attempts to enliven and modernize the innards of a building that seems to have been designed to revel in the richness of wood, stone, and metal. However, this richness of formed nature is covered with so much manufactured nonsense that what you are left with is not the opulence advertised in the exterior architecture, but a sort of communist inspired triumph of bland. Instead of filling the space with warmth and - admittedly "formed" - nature, hallways are painted painful shades of pastel creams, pistachio, and cappuccino brown. Instead of vaulted stone (or even plastered!) ceilings, there hang the ever-present, and always suffocating ceiling tiles; a painful leftover scar from a cheap retrofit. If the original architect were to see this structure now, what would he say? Would he wish he allowed for future retrofits to his original layout? Would he go stark raving mad? The Dana building is nearing the end of its makeover and green retrofit. Will someone say the same about it as I do about Lorch? Is it really important to use "green" products in a retrofit of the School of Natural Resources? And, really, who decided to use such vertigo-inducing materials for the bathroom stalls?