Chan Stroman was born in Hempstead, New York. Her itinerant childhood as a military dependent included several years overseas, in Seoul, Korea, and on Okinawa. She earned degrees from the University of Chicago's college, divinity school and law school, then moved to San Francisco, where she began her professional career as an attorney, met her husband and started her family. She now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, John Roll, and their three children, Jessamyn (11), James (7), and Veronica (5). Chan blogs at Bookish Gardener.
Why do you blog? > I started blogging to prod myself to read more and to write more, and to chronicle (albeit in a selective and haphazard way) the goings-on in my garden and in my life; I continue to blog for those reasons and because I enjoy hanging out in the 'Lunchroom'.
What would be your main blogging advice to a novice blogger? > Write for yourself, but be inspired by others.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > I think of cultural and political heroes as those who've had an impact on society or history, but my intellectual heroes are those who have had a direct personal impact on me as teachers. So I'll name here three of my professors from my time at Chicago: Joseph Cropsey, the late J. David Greenstone and Richard Epstein.
What are you reading at the moment? > I'm finishing up The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera, midway through Morte d'Urban by J. F. Powers, starting The Confidence of British Philosophers by Arthur Quinn, and re-reading Goodbye Without Leaving by Laurie Colwin.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Rod Serling, John Cassavetes and Joss Whedon.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford.
What is your favourite poem? > 'Supernatural Love' by Gjertrud Schnackenberg.
What is your favourite movie? > The Third Man.
What is your favourite song? > 'I Can See Clearly Now', as recorded by Johnny Nash.
Who is your favourite composer? > Beethoven.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.'
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > The idea that we can't discern what is good or, worse yet, that it doesn't exist.
Can you name a work of non-fiction which has had a major and lasting influence on how you think about the world? > Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations. This work has had a tremendous influence on how I look at the relationships between what people say, and what they do, and what they mean, whether in the context of personal discourse or the evolution of American political traditions (which is the context in which I first studied Wittgenstein). It continues to stimulate my thinking because, well, I still have a loooong way to go in understanding this work.
Who are your political heroes? > Martin Luther (yes, even though I'm a Catholic), King Sejong, and Booker T. Washington.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'There's no such thing as a free lunch.'
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Rose-coloured glasses.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > 'To thine own self be true.'
What do you consider the most important personal quality? > Backbone.
What personal fault do you most dislike? > Irresponsibility.
What is your favourite proverb? > 'God bless the child that's got his own.'
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Gambling for money.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything you'd do differently? > Start gardening about two decades earlier.
What would you call your autobiography? > Who, Me?
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > Angela Bassett. (If you're going to dream, dream big, I say.)
What is your most treasured possession? > My late father's camera.
What talent would you most like to have? > To play classical piano like John O'Conor and jazz piano like Hank Jones.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Peony breeder.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Mort Sahl.
Who are your sporting heroes? > Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy.
What animal would you most like to be? > An orbweaver spider.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of previous profiles, and the links to them, can be found here.]