Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Meta: "Up For Grabs" bookshelf

So, you've seen in the past that I would post books to PaperBackSwap. As a refresher, you post books you want to get rid of, then request books that other people are posting, and you basically get books for the low cost of the shipping you spend sending them to others. It was a nice way to clear out my shelf and obtain books on my reading list.

Then they changed formats. Either you paid a membership fee, or you paid a small a la carte fee each time you request a book.

Adding the fees to the shipping price just added up to books from PaperBackSwap not being sufficiently cheaper than just buying used books. Yeah, it made it easier to find the books, but going to the post office will always be more annoying than going to the book shop, let's be real.

So here's what I'm going to do.  Below, please find a list of books I've placed on my 'Up for Grabs" bookshelf on Goodreads. If you know me well enough in meatspace to exchange holiday cards, then you are welcome -- even encouraged -- to request a book off this shelf (and if you want to unload some books of your own, feel free to send me a list of titles).

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Science of Happiness: Three Good Things

9/22/15: Happiness Practice #1: Three Good Things

OK! We're (finally) up to our first Happiness Practice! A video explains.

So each day (-ish), we're supposed to list three good things that happened so far that day, and reflect on them.  So until I get to the next happiness practice, I'll be listing them at the bottom of my posts.  It'll be a fun way to see how I write these things somewhat out of order, won't it?

Three Good Things, 9/22/15:

  1. Butter Creme Easter Egg: It was delicious, the dark chocolate cold and crisp from the fridge and the filling smooth and creamy. It satisfied my snacky craving, and got a container out of the fridge. It was a burst of pleasure in the moment, and it got my blood sugar up, so I feel more steady now. This was caused by low blood sugar and the feeling that, for once, I wanted a sweet snack, not a savory one.
  2. Finished my library book. It was a decent book, not amazing but I'm glad I read it.  I can now take it back and pick up another book. It also means I can cross it off my reading list, and mark it towards my reading goal for the year. It was a pleasant escape in the moment, and a small feeling of accomplishment after. This was caused by the urgency of reminder emails in my inbox.
  3. Updating the Christmas card list.  Got in touch with an old friend and swapped addresses; added new friends to the list and made sure the address is correct for another old friend. It was good to be in touch and I'm looking forward to staying in touch. This was caused by the need to send a thank-you note to someone who had moved.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Science of Happiness: Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?

9/11/15: What Is Happiness?

 So here's another course reading you can enjoy along with me:

English: Emotions associated with happiness
English: Emotions associated with happiness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"Is a Happy Life Different from a Meaningful One?" by Jill Suttie and Jason Marsh was posted February of 2014 to the Greater Good website.  Take a look and let me know when you're done.

OK, so my interpretation of this article is that things that give our lives meaning tend to make us less happy, but the meaning they give to our lives tends to make us more happy.

Is that what you got? Discuss in the comments.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Review #56

I'm afraid it's going to be a boring one this week.

Cover to Uncanny X-Men #136. Art by John Byrne.
Cover to Uncanny X-Men #136. Art by John Byrne. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Friday we grabbed a late dinner and I did some karaoke.  I flubbed the song, but still did better than 90% of the people there. So, meh.

The next day, I just kind of chilled around the house while Chris went to a baseball game, then we met at a local microbrew for a drink and then grabbed a burger .

Sunday, Chris went to a football game. I went to church, got lunch, looked into seeing a movie but wasn't impressed by the listings, wandered the greenmarket, browsed the book store, and got an iced tea before going home and relaxing.

And breaking my phone.  Some people say, "This is why we can't have nice things," but for me, it's more like, "This is why we can't have nice days."

I'm writing this a little early because I want to make sure it's in by Friday, so if I missed anything, I'll let you know next time.

In knitting, I'm making ever more progress on my scarf.

 In reading, I read X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga, and finished Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival. I started The How of Happiness, The Fifth Season, and Civil War, and picked at Bulfinch's Mythology.

Has your week been more exciting than mine?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Science of Happiness: Why Does Happiness Matter?

9/21/15: What Good Is Happiness?

Happy Tomatos
Happy Tomatos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So we're finally onto the next section (yay!) of Week 1 (boo!). We're going to learn about the benefits of happiness (other than, you know, being happy).

So we start with another video.  I think I'm going to knit while I watch this one.  

OK, so apparently, happiness is good for physical health (I do wonder about the whole "correlation is not causation" thing), creativity, social capital, your work life, and even the health of your culture.  On the one hand, that's pretty cool.

On the other hand, no pressure, right?

Next there's a selection from The How of Happiness, which I am going to read in it's entirety but which I'm not going to pick apart right now.  Read the book if you like. The reading just summarizes what the video just covered.

Now, another video. This one explains that about 40% of our happiness level is determined by choices we make, and that science is studying those choices.

Another video.  This one is about other reasons why happiness should be studied: in the past 30 years, loneliness, narcissism, materialism, and income inequality have risen (and he's not even blaming the millennials for this!).

Finally, there's a survey, which is a simple question: if you had a button that you could press and it would make you as happy as you wanted to be, as often as you wanted to be, would you press it?

I think I would, but I'd try to do so sparingly. If I spent all day pressing the button, I'd never get anything done. But I also wouldn't care... yeah, I am not going down this rabbit hole right now.

We finish this unit with a problem set that just quizzes me on the material we've covered so far. I got both questions right.

And so we move on in the unit....

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Talking and clicking

Let's talk about another question from this list:

Decoder Ring Theatre
Decoder Ring Theatre (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you ever talked to a friend about a topic, a dream, or an aspiration and everything just clicked inside of you, and you felt a surge of excitement throughout your body?
 Yeah, actually.  I want to do a podcast. I've had this story in mind for ages, and in every iteration it wants to be an audio drama. Originally I wanted it to be a script and feature actors, like Decoder Ring Theatre, but as I considered the obstacles to that (and even asked for advice), I thought I might be better off writing them as monologues and reading them myself, playing one of the main characters, more along the lines of Welcome to Night Vale -- and if I do well (doesn't have to be nearly as well as them!) I could always have guest voices do episodes from different points of view.

It's overwhelming, and I don't really want to do much with it until I finish my current project, which has a pretty strict deadline, but it's so fin to talk about it.  I've had offers of help and support.

So how about you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Science of Happiness: What Is Happiness? Part 2

9/18/15: What Happiness is Not

Tyrannosaurus rex, Palais de la Découverte, Paris
Tyrannosaurus rex, Palais de la Découverte, Paris (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The next section starts with a video about common misconceptions about happiness. An extreme level or occurrence of positive emotions could be mania; too much pride will hurt you socially.  Also, there's no one-size-fits-all definition or method for happiness.

Next up is another article, so we'll deal with that another day.  Sorry this is so short!

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Science of Happiness: Happiness, the Hard Way

 9/10/15: What Is Happiness?

This reading is also an excerpt from
 Happiness: A History by Darrin M. McMahon.
So, on ThursdayI mentioned that the next step in this week's "class" was a reading, so I thought since this reading was an online article, and not one of my library books, you might enjoy reading it along with me.

"Happiness, the Hard Way" by Darrin M. McMahon was posted in May of 2009 to the Greater Good website.  Take a look and let's meet back here when you're done.

OK, cool.  This reading comes pretty close to bringing you up to speed with what the course has been discussing so far this week. But it also raises some interesting points.

So tell me: what do you think of current (and especially Western) ideas about happiness?

Updated 9/22/15 to replace placeholder with actual link.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday Review #55

Another busy week gone by.

Last weekend, Chris and I went up to Boston to meet up with several of his law school roommates. That was a good time; we saw the renovated law building, got lunch at  a grill we all like, and then went to Salem for the afternoon.

Sunday, almost immediately after getting back to New York, I set off for Brooklyn to see a Muppet Vault event while Chris headed for Long Island to watch the Giants opening game with friends.

Wednesday was book club, which (as is becoming more and more typical) involved barbecue.

Thursday I spent most of in the garden, planting bulbs for next spring, as well as chrysanthemums:

Photo by me.

...OK, I'm pretty sure the blue ones are asters, not mums, but they're cared for pretty much the same way, so who cares?

Which brings us to today.  This is the first weekend in a while we've been home, and we have big plans for most of the next month or two, so while I'll keep you posted next time, of course, look for this weekend to be low-key.  Thank goodness.

I actually did some knitting, though! I finished the hat I was working on, got some more length on the scarf, and picked at a different scarf when I didn't have the right materials at hand for the primary one,  one day.

Reading!  My primary reading was Glasshouse, for book club, but I also managed to finish The Compassionate Instinct and put some solid headway into Gin: The Art and Craft of the Artisan Revival (full disclosure: a good friend of ours wrote it, but he's a legitimate expert on the topicand you should check it out if you have any interest).

I think that's pretty much all I've been up to this week.  How about you?