Archive for April 14th, 2010

Whether to grow a beard

| April 14, 2010 | 3 Replies
Whether to grow a beard

I currently have a beard, mostly because it takes less time to shave. I’ve probably considered the logistics too much: add up three minutes per day for 365 days–that amounts to 18 hours per year shaving.

But maybe it’s nonetheless worth it to shave. Many people say that having a beard suggests that one is hiding something, not being forthright. That’s apparently what politicians think these days based on the lack of beards.

Others argue that a beard makes one look more thoughtful. I don’t claim to have any answers–I suspect that the way people react has to do with the kind of beard one has. Is it well-trimmed, for example? Andrew Sullivan has a short post suggesting that consumers react in somewhat predictable ways to beards. And here’s more from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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We’ve got serious problems

| April 14, 2010 | Reply
We’ve got serious problems

The United States is faced with dozens of serious issues. It would seem that our so-called news media wouldn’t have have time to rev up deep-seated xenophobia to score cheap political points. Here’s John Stewart taking FOX “News” to task:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
A Farewell to Arms
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
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Pesky unecological habits

| April 14, 2010 | Reply
Pesky unecological habits

William James once wrote that “habit” functions as “the enormous fly-wheel of society, its most precious conservative agent.” (Principles of Psychology, Vol. 1, p. 121). With regard to transportation, I’d like to think that I’ve taken care of more bad habits than most people. For instance, on most workdays, I commute by bicycle, and it’s a 10-mile round trip (my odometer just rolled to 14,000 miles, accumulated over 11 years). Although I don’t often go on trail rides for fun, I do ride 5-miles to work, 5 back home again, 5, 5, 5, 5 . . . . I also pride myself on walking one or two mile distances every few days, distances many people would insist on driving.

A couple days ago, I was buying a replacement hard drive at a local computer store. After coming out of the computer store, I decided to pick up a few food items at a Trader Joe’s that was located about 100 yards away, across a big parking lot. It occurred to me that I should get in my car and drive the 100 yards in order to shop at Trader Joe’s, and I almost did get into my car for that purpose.

Then it occurred to me what an absurd thing it would be, so incredibly unhealthy, to not walk 100 yards. To fail to walk would be to turn down a chance to get the blood flowing–free exercise. After scolding myself, I walked briskly across the lot, which took all of one minute, and then wondered how it ever got to be this way that anyone would consider driving such a short distance. I took a photo of that “long” walk after returning to my car (see below)–I wanted to drive the point home with an image, to remind myself that it should never be an option to drive a car 100 yards. Never. Yet I know that numerous people would have driven 100 yards rather than walked. It’s part of American culture to waste fuel and avoid exercise. distance-to-trader-joes

I used to live next door to a family that often drove their cars 1/4 mile to the nearby church and school, even though they were perfectly able to walk. I often see another neighbor taking almost 45-minutes to cut his small lawn with a power mower. He’s needlessly out there breathing 2-cycle engine fumes three times longer than necessary. What gives? For some people, I think the problem is that they forget how to walk fast. Walking fast turns walking into a bona fide mode of transportation (the Obama Administration has recently recognized this).

I know people who will always wait for elevators rather than walk even one flight of stairs. The St. Louis County, Missouri, Courthouse escalator has been broken for a few months, and I have seen dozens of people dragging their bodies up a single set of stairs as if they were about to die. I know what the problem is: they are not used to walking up stairs. Much of the time, these people weigh 50 – 100 pounds too much. Two-thirds of Americans are not physically active on a regular basis, and one-fourth get no exercise at all. Two-third of Americans are overweight or obese.

It’s so easy to slip back into bad habits, especially when in a hurry. We’ve designed our environment so that it’s easy to not walk and it’s too easy to eat lots of high-calorie non-nutritious food that we pop into our mouths with or fingers while we watch television. Anyone looking at our situation and our physiques from the outside would immediately know that we are living an unhealthy/dysfunctional lifestyle. It’s not just a matter of opinion.

I think that I’m getting more and more tuned to these issues of bad eating and poor exercise because I’ve been watching a fantastic new show called Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (on ABC). Check it out, and you’ll be amazed at the dozens of hurdles we put up to keep ourselves and our children from being healthy. It’s truly mind-twisting. And I’ve decided that Jamie Oliver is one of my heroes, and I’m not alone in this thinking–he was recently awarded the 2010 TED Prize. You can watch the Food Revolution trailer and all of the individual episodes on the Internet here. It’s time to get angry about the way that we are abusing ourselves and our children, just like Jamie says on his show and at his recent TED lecture–it’s time to join Jamie’s revolution. Give just 20-minutes to watching this video and get angry enough to do something. Talk it up with the people you care about.

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Unordinary wedding photography

| April 14, 2010 | 3 Replies
Unordinary wedding photography

I’ve seen a lot of ordinary wedding photography, much of it from high-priced photographers. So have you.

While riding in a plane from St. Louis to Los Angeles two weeks ago, I found myself sitting next to a man named Jon Abrahams. After a bit of conversation, he mentioned that he photographed weddings. I thought I knew what to expect. A few seconds later, after he showed me some of his images on his iPhone, I was a believer. I rarely find myself fully engaged when looking at wedding photos, even when the subjects are people I know, and especially when viewing the photos on a tiny screen. Jon’s photos were unusual, however. He works the genre harder and more elegantly than most wedding photographers, in order to get artistic shots that nonetheless capture the mood.

Jon, who often flies hundreds or thousands of miles to shoot weddings, kindly gave me permission to print the images you see at this post. His website offers a slideshow featuring many additional images. I hope you enjoy these images (including “The Last Supper” photo, below) as much as I did.

last-supper

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