Review by Russell Baker

Baker, Russell. “Talking it Up.” New York Review of Books, May 11, 2006.

What I liked was his description of what makes a good conversation:

Both participants listen attentively to each other; neither tries to promote himself by pleasing the other; both are obviously enjoying an intellectual workout; neither spoils the evening’s peaceable air by making a speech or letting disagreement flare into anger; they do not make tedious attempts to be witty. They observe classic conversational etiquette with a self-discipline that would have pleased Michel de Montaigne, Samuel Johnson, or any of a dozen other old masters of good talk whom Miller cites as authorities.

This etiquette, Miller says, is essential if conversation is to rise to the level of—well, “good conversation.” The etiquette is hard on hotheads, egomaniacs, windbags, clowns, politicians, and zealots. The good conversationalist must never go purple with rage, like people on talk radio; never tell a long-winded story, like Joseph Conrad; and never boast that his views enjoy divine approval, like a former neighbor of mine whose car bumper declared, “God Said It, I Believe It, And That Settles It.”

I’d like to snip this and put it in the opening portion of my next few syllabi…

Kitchen ideas

Like everything but the countertops: here

Like the lines, like how clean, like the cabinets: here

Like the kitchen: here

Like it: here.

Like it, although is Conshohocken really a forest?

Like it, wish I could rebuild this way.

Questions I’m pondering as I think about what our kitchen will look like:
Why is everything white these days? Do none of these people have children?
Are we picking modern designs that won’t work in this space?
Are most of the designs we’ve identified as to our liking “cold” when one of our key things is to have a “warm” kitchen?

General principles (churned up by exhausted school teachers who are not architects)

General principles:

*Simplicity: in thinking about what we want for all of these spaces, we want things to be as clean and as simple as possible. We are never going to be folks who can carefully put a room together or folks who can manage a lot of stuff; we want the various rooms to be as straight forward as possible.

*Functional: we like cooking and we like being in the kitchen. We want a space that makes people want to be in the kitchen.

*Light: To me, light goes along with simplicity. As much natural light as possible and as open as possible.

*Fidelity to the original design/purpose of the house: we don’t care much about this. I think our front room will remain the only room that has most of the original features but it’s pretty much the only room at this point.