Doing Without?

Composition No. 10 by Piet Mondrian. An excellent example of minimalist art

There is a minimalist living thread on Talking Time that I occasionally read. A poster recently linked to a post on mnmlist which is a blog on minimalism (not the art style but the way of living.)  The post asks what you could live without accompanied with a list of examples. After thinking about it some I came to some conclusions, here they are:

  • Cable TV – living without it now. Not for miminalist reasons but because it’s a horrendous waste of money and time.
  • A smart phone – Nope. This thing in large part is replacing my computer for many things.
  • Any kind of cell phone – We don’t have a land line a cell phone is the only way for me to stay in touch with friends and family.
  • Any kind of TV –
  • An Internet connection –
  • A couch – We could get rid of the couch but I don’t know where guests would sit when we have them over for dinner/parties.
  • More than one pair of shoes – I probably do have too many pairs of shoes. I could cut down to three pairs: work, exercise, and regular.
  • More than a few shirts, or pants – Another area where I could cut down, somewhat. My work though requires a lot of formal wear.
  • A microwave – For a while we didn’t have a microwave and got along fine, it is convenient though and makes cooking/baking easier at times.
  • A car – fixing mine up to sell now.
  • Sweets – I don’t understand why you’d want to get rid of this? Food is one of the best, and simplest pleasures in life.
  • More than a handful of books (at a time) – I try to only keep books that I go back to again and again. This is a slow process of removal. I’ve made a lot of progress in the past year or so having donated/recycled more than ten boxes of books.
  • Makeup – don’t wear any.
  • Hair – How is getting rid of your hair minimalist? I honestly do not understand this one
  • Mementos – Outside of photographs, not really.

I’m sure some people “score” better than I do and some worse. I understand that the author’s point wasn’t to judge or imply that use/possession of items on the list above is wrong or bad, but rather to consciously think about the stuff we buy/have. Some of it though makes little to no sense, “hair” being the best example. I have a hard time seeing how having hair could distract you from the goal of conscious living, even people who take time to do their hair aren’t letting it control their life, if they are “stuff” isn’t the problem they should be focusing on… “Sweets” is another example, what does that mean? Candy bars, sugar, fruit? Why remove those things from your life? They are simple pleasures that can help us escape from a bad day.

I think my real gripe with aspects of minimalism is the focus on necessity. Again, from the mnmlist blog post: “just as [sic recte ask] yourself the questions. Is it really necessary? Can you live without it?” This is not the question we should be asking ourselves! Why? Because it leads down a destructive path. The fact of the matter is that humans can live without everything but water, food, and some form of shelter (and not even that depending on climate.) The human experience is not a race to the bottom. In fact by our very nature we collect and by collecting we can create and through creation humanity has bettered its state over and over again. Do modern people have a problem with consumerism? Yes. Can people become a slave to the things they own? Yes. The answer though is not to throw all that away. The answer is rather to live consciously, be aware of what you have, why you have it, and the costs associated with it. If you do that then you’ll be fine and you won’t have to live like a cave hermit.

And why would you? Those guys smell!


I Need a Plan! To Get All of this Painted

Where am I going to find the time to paint all this?

This is everything (I think) that I still have to paint for my tabletop wargaming hobby. What all is there? Let’s see a Space Marine drop-pod, marine squad, terminator squad, predator tank and random figurines; a boxed Mordheim set (includes terrain and figures); a Battlefleet Gothic Chaos fleet and Necron fleet; a pretty large Legion of Everblight squad; chaos space marines (if I can’t sell them) and noise marines (ditto with the sale); a Vampire Lord; a Dark Elf Corsair Lord; Necron Flayers;  and, a Beastman Shaggoth.

Out of the games you see here. I’ve never played Hordes, Mordheim, or Warhammer Fantasy. To be fair I don’t have a fantasy army; nor do I plan on getting one. I just have these three models that I’d like to paint up someday. I’ve only played Battlefleet Gothic once. I do have a large Space Marine army but, I don’t think it needs another tank or any more troops in it. In fact I’m thinking about selling the entire army (maybe 3000+ points?) seeing as I never use it.

This used to be a hobby that I took a great deal of enjoyment out of. Both aspects of it: the painting and the playing. Now? Now, seeing these things in my closet just makes me feel guilty. Guilty for spending so much money on it all and guilty for not doing anything with it all.

I suppose the question is what do I do now? Do I try to paint these things up? Do I try to find the time and energy? If I do paint them. Will I then have the time/energy to play them? If not do I simply sell them? I’m somewhat worried that I’m losing part of myself here if I let this all go; at the same time, is that so bad? Perhaps I’m no longer that person?

I guess I’m asking you all what am I supposed to do with all this stuff now?

DiMortuiSunt April Book Giveaway! #1

My review for Sacramento Book Review:

I found it troubling and eerie at how much of today I see in the world Jackson Lears relates in his newest book Rebirth of a Nation, which chronicles the history of the United States from the end of Reconstruction to the end of World War I. Lears makes the similarities between then and now a theme throughout the book, pointing them out when they are especially telling. Rebirth of a Nation is not an important book because it paints a vivid picture of early modern American culture; it is a brilliant book because it reminds of how and why we have the federal government we do and the headaches and troubles earlier Americans faced to get us here. Various government institutions and policies (the FDA, for example) which we take for granted today, or worse denigrate, are explained in the context of which they were created, enlightening such issues as modern banking and its regulation, the Federal Reserve, the eight-hour workday, unions, a mixed economy, and more. Lears wraps all of that radical change in an American desire, both individual and societal, for a rebirth into a state akin to grace whether through war, social justice, or labor. Rebirth of a Nation is a must-read for lovers of American history.

If you’re a fan of history or the United States this is a great book that covers a pivotal period in US History as the country shifted from its original rural agrarian base to a urban industrial one.

So, if you’d like a free book. Just make a comment down below and you’ll be entered. One person, chosen at random, will win it next Friday.

Video Games I Just Can’t Quit

I don't have Photoshop, so shut-up

Despite the fact that I have a backlog of video games that is, let me check… At least in the double digits (I haven’t updated it in awhile) I find myself returning to the same stable of games again and again.

Am I the only person who does this? I’m guessing not, going by all the videos, forum threads, and websites dedicated to old video games; how to find them, how to play them, how to beat them, how to exploit  them, and on and on. (I even indulge in this myself. Click on that ‘Let’s Play’ tab at the very top of the page to see.)

I like to think that this is more than blind nostalgia operating. That there are very good objective, quantifiable reasons why I play Megaman 2, Castlevania, or King’s Quest IV time after time and year after year. The problem of course is that games, as works of art, are notoriously difficult to objectively quantify or qualify. The hobby does have widely held corpus of “great” games, but the list is highly mutable and it has been argued contain sgames that are present merely for their age. Furthermore, what qualifies a game as “great?” The criteria available to use is nigh endless and contradictory.

I’m no ludologist (and I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to pretend to be an amateur one ) so I’m not going to attempt creating a list of the various components of games that qualify them as “greats.” I’m sure if I could isolate said components they would not match up with others’ lists anyway.

Sometimes it is merely the presence of the ineffable that defines greatness, I suppose…

Here’s my list of games I just can’t, and wouldn’t want to, quit (in no order):

  • King’s Quest IV
  • Super Metroid
  • Castlevania
  • X-COM: UFO Defense
  • Megaman 2
  • Contra
  • Space Quest III
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Ape Escape
  • Chrono Trigger
  • Tenchu
  • Final Fantasy

Do you find yourself going back to a set of “knowns” time and time again? Regardless of how many new “unknowns” you might have and want to consume? If so, please share them below in the comments and why you think it is you keep going back to them!

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