Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Self Control and Religion

Highly interesting article by Tierney from the Times about the correlation between religious participation and self-control. I'm a big fan of self-control, but not so big on self-delusion. On a side note, I went to Christmas services with the fam. Of all the stuff that gets said in a Catholic mass, nothing sticks with me as much as "lead us not into temptation" - there's some self control for you.

I'm intrigued by this connection and it resonates on the intuit-o-meter, but I'm finding from my own experience that a godhead to whom one sucks up is not a required element in the equation. A quasi-religious discipline like yoga or meditation - I've been varying degrees of devout about both, but I'm currently mad for yoga - works for me, but the key has been a disciplined approach - Which begs the chicken and egg question I suppose.

From the Times:
So what’s a heathen to do in 2009? Dr. McCullough’s advice is to try replicating some of the religious mechanisms that seem to improve self-control, like private meditation or public involvement with an organization that has strong ideals.

Religious people, he said, are self-controlled not simply because they fear God’s wrath, but because they’ve absorbed the ideals of their religion into their own system of values, and have thereby given their personal goals an aura of sacredness. He suggested that nonbelievers try a secular version of that strategy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The New Sobriety

Does it have something to do with the economy? Maybe the days of excess are once again in the rear view. Two articles I've read in the past few weeks (both [1, 2] by now-abstaining former drinkers) in the Times are resonating. In the past few weeks I've personally found that a few cups of chamomile tea are a much better night cap than the few beers I have grown accustomed to over the years. Used to be I rarely went a few days without a drink. These days I've cut the booze out at home, and I've recently gone as far as ordering only a coke at the bar. You know what? I feel pretty good.

It was one part of the Buddhist bit that really got under my skin. You know, I kinda fancied myself a bit of a Buddhist, yet I still drank on the regular.

I think though, that it all coalesced for me a few weeks back as I watched the great "Le Samourai". Our protagonist (?) enters the bar, orders a whiskey and walks out without drinking it (2:10 - 3:26 below). Watch the film sometime and let's discuss what this means. It's about self-control.

Now how do you hang out with people without having a few drinks? I'm planning on taking up Slacklining. It's also about self-control. A buzz would definitely get in the way of that pursuit. Seriously. When it gets a bit warmer, lets go to the park. (Video below gets good at 3:45)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ron Carter and Mos Def

Look alike, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Green Gifting Tips

Joe Romm, climate change pot-stirrer extraordinaire, has posted a good list of suggestions for the holiday season. It's good advice, and hopefully anyone buying for me will heed it! Am I an ingrate for feeling like I have a hole in my soul when I receive a wasteful gift? I probably am.

From ClimateProgress.Org
2. Buy gifts they will use. A gift that never gets used is a waste of materials and money. If you’re buying a material gift for someone, make sure you know them well enough to know it’s something they will use. Have people you’re shopping for prioritize their lists so you have a better idea of what they really want, or look for things they own that are wearing out and need to be replaced.
It's going to be hard for anyone to beat Mom's birthday gift last month. It meets more than one of the green gifting guidelines. It's a Mom-woven Aran sweater with wool brought back from the homeland, and it's super awesome. Check it out! Detail:She also told me something I didn't know. Irish families had signature patterns and those patterns were used to identify drowned sailors. Morbid, yes - but fascinating! And I do not doubt that fisherman wore this type of thing. It's toasty!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

M.I.A. + DFA

M.I.A. - "Paper Planes" (DFA remix)
I heard this on WBEZ's Radio M program last night. Top Notch!!

Winter in Chicago / Rouleur

Santa Rampage: Originally uploaded by jp_ryan

It's winter in Chicago. That means below zero wind chills, 4:30 pm sunsets, and cyclists. Here's to all those who brave conditions most find ungodly. Here's to those who pity people in cars.

Here's an awesome cycling magazine I've recently discovered.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Impulse Control

It's a topic I've been thinking about lately, what with Thanksgiving indulgence and Black Friday indulgence. At least, indulgence is what I called it. Impulsiveness would also be accurate. Anyway, turns out that casinos in Illinois are having a hard time, but they're not simply blaming the bad economy, nope. They say that a smoking ban is hurting cash flow. I guess like turkey and shopping, gambling and nicotine just go together.

From the Chicago Tribune
Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, had predicted a 19 percent drop in revenue when the state smoking ban was debated, based on what other states had seen. He's not happy to have been so close to the mark.

"There's a high correlation between smokers and gambling," Swoik said Wednesday. "Although the number of people coming to the casinos is about the same, the time they spend inside is down. They're outside smoking. And in this business, if you're not putting money in the machine or on the table—time is money."
I'm paying a lot of attention to where I stand as far as impulsiveness and self-indulgence go. Something about some samurai movies (1, 2) I watched recently makes impulse control seem very attractive.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Too Many Question Marks?

The issue of my overuse of question marks in post titles has come to my attention (by me). I will be more mindful. Thank you for your patience.

Best Chair Ever?

Deepak from 10am-3pm
Originally uploaded by nimbu
The Ikea LUNNA chair is the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in. This man might agree. I bought one (grey) on craigslist.com and now I need a matching footstool.