Archive for September 2007
and corrupt, as well. Via ThinkProgress:
“Following on the heels of Senator Ted Stevens’ failed ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ project is an $84 million ferry to allow 40 people to save a 2-hour plus drive.” The USA Today writes that Stevens is pushing for a high-speed ferry that will connect Anchorage to Port MacKenzie, following “the same route as one of the two ‘bridges to nowhere.’”
Very interesting note in post on Mind Hacks:
One of the things I plug on the programme is an online cognitive behaviour therapy for depression website called MoodGYM.
It’s one of the great success stories of online therapy. It’s been extensively researched, found to be effective and is free and advert free. Highly recommended.
Link to All in the Mind with audio and transcript.
Full disclosure: I suffered from clinical depression, now totally in remission thanks to Effexor. But the first step is try therapy alone. It won’t work for everyone, but if it does, it will save money compared to medicine.
PHOENIX – It sounds like science fiction but it’s true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.
Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it’s killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.
“This is definitely something we need to track,” said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better,” Beach said. “In future decades, as temperatures rise, we’d expect to see more cases.”
According to the CDC, the amoeba called Naegleria fowleri (nuh-GLEER-ee-uh FOWL’-erh-eye) killed 23 people in the United States, from 1995 to 2004. This year health officials noticed a spike with six cases — three in Florida, two in Texas and one in Arizona. The CDC knows of only several hundred cases worldwide since its discovery in Australia in the 1960s.
I just got from the library a food-processor cookbook, and immediately found several recipes to try. The first will be Mushroom Caviar, for which I’m buying the ingredients today:
2 large yellow onions cut into chunks
1 Tbsp fresh lemon thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
6 oz Portabella mushroom slices cut into chunks
1 1/2 lbs small white mushrooms, wiped cleaned, stemmed, and quartered
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, diced
Pulse the first four above 10 to 12 times in a food processor fitted with the metal chopping blade, until finely chopped, scraping down the work bowl halfway through.
Heat the olive oil in a very large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until ripples appear on the skillet bottom.
Add the chopped onion mixture to the skillet and cook uncovered, stirring now and then, until the onions are very soft and tipped with brown—20 to 25 minutes.
Add the Portabella slices and white mushrooms to the processor (in two batches if necessary) and pulse 12 to 15 times until finely chopped, scraping the work bowl halfway through.
Add the mushrooms to the browned onions in the skillet, stir well, reduce heat to moderate, and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the color and consistency of caviar, about an hour. You don’t have to stand and stir—a quick stir every 20 minutes is enough.
Mix the lemon juice into the mushroom caviar, remove from the heat, and cool 10 minutes. Scatter the bits of butter over the mush caviar and stir until incorporated.
Scoop the mushroom caviar into a 1-quart container, press plastic food wrap flat on top, snap on the lid, and store in the refrigerator. Serve within 4 days.
Mellow at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then serve as a cocktail spread.
I’m so pleased! Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving: Shaving Made Enjoyable is now ranked at 993 in
Amazon.com Lulu.com sales! A satisfying milestone—and, I hope, a satisfying introduction to an enjoyable way of shaving for the readers, may you prosper.
Now I’ve got to practice saying casually, “Yas, it’s in the top 1,000 Lulu titles.”
You’ll understand my excitement when I tell you that at first it was not even among the top 5,000 titles. And now… my!
My hope now is that some of you new readers will post your thoughts on the book under the reader reviews at Lulu.com (or Amazon.com, for that matter).
My heartfelt thanks to you all.
I used the Institut Karité 25% shea butter shaving soap again this morning—I do like it—and the Harvard 3 Best produced a fine lather. Then the English open-comb Aristocrat with yesterday’s blade. I still didn’t like the blade, so I discarded it and put in a new Treet Blue Special. That one seemed better, so off the beard went.
Aftershave was Geo. F. Trumper Spanish Leather. And it’s a sunny morning here on the Bay.
Just a few more copies, and I’ll break 1,000 and achieve a three-digit rank. Thanks to all who are helping…
The following from Zen Habits sounds useful. Notice how the conscious mind is given a pointless task to keep it busy—counting the inhale-exhale cycles. Counting seems to be a good way to distract the conscious mind and get it out of the way.
It’s often hard to be as focused as we’d like to be. Many things in our hectic lives interrupt our concentration and erode focus. Think: cell phones, instant messaging, email, and co-workers vying for our time and energy.
Fortunately, there are ways to counteract these forces and bring better, more relaxed focus to our activities. One way is to use “mini-meditations.”
Mini-meditations boost focus and calm your mind throughout the day. They require no fancy preparation or techniques, and you can do them anywhere in less than a minute — so they’re ideal mindfulness exercises whether you’re at home in a quiet room or in the midst of a busy day at work.
Here’s the process:
1. Stop what you’re doing. Grab a minute for yourself, and mentally set aside what you’re doing. Remember: the whole exercise takes less than a minute, so you needn’t make a big deal about finding the perfect stopping point. It’s really more a pause than a stop, and you’ll be refreshed and able to start what you’re doing again in just a little bit.
2. Close your eyes. Let your eyelids close and relax.
3. Pay attention to your breath. The core of this exercise is awareness of your breath. You needn’t do anything special with it — just breathe normally, but do pay attention to the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. If you’d like, you may breathe a bit slower and more deeply than you ordinarily do.
4. Count three full inhale-exhale cycles. Inhale and exhale. As you exhale, think to yourself: one. Inhale and exhale again, and think: two. Finally, inhale and exhale, and think: three.
5. Slowly open your eyes and resume what you were doing.
That’s it! Nice and simple. Try mini-meditations periodically throughout your day, and see for yourself if it’s helpful to you.
Here’s a link to Snopes.com so that you know it’s a real scam, not an Internet hoax or urban legend. Thanks to the Younger Daughter for passing this along.
Most of us take summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty, that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced.
The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Give out any of this information and bingo; your identity just got stolen. The scam has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma , Illinois , and Colorado . This (scam) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they’re with the court system. The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.
For Confirmation, check these links:
And I just got a cute phishing note: a perfectly formatted email from eBay that had a message (I forget whether it was buyer or seller). It looked authentic enough that I clicked the “reply” button in the message, and went to a page that looked exactly like the eBay sign-in page—only Roboform Pro mysteriously did not pop up to fill the fields. That made me examine the page more closely, and it was a phishing page, hoping to collect my username and password. I probably would have filled it out if I were not in the habit of using Roboform Pro.
It’s a jungle out there. Be careful.
I’ve talked before about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), the organization of police officers that believe, based on their own law-enforcement experience, that the War Against Drugs is ill-conceived, ineffective, and a pointless waste of money, law enforcement resources, and human lives. They believe that Prohibition of drugs should be ended, as we ended the Prohibition of alcohol, and the problem approached through regulation and other means, financed by taxation of the now-legal drugs.
I just got this email:
LEAP has decided to participate in Macy’s Shop For A Cause program this year. Macy’s will celebrate this national day of support for non-profit organizations on October 13. Each $5 donation to LEAP gets you a ticket that, when brought to any Macy’s location on October 13, will give you 10-20% off all of your purchases on that day.
Please contact Kristin Daley at Kristin.email@example.com to purchase a ticket, or for additional information.
Building muscle is very important for diabetics, since muscles increase the metabolism. Moreover, replacing fat with muscle reduces insulin resistance. Some good tips (and there’s much more at that site, StrongLifts.com).
Internet & magazines are full of misinformation & myths on how to build muscle. Countless methods promise results some struggle to achieve. If you don’t get results, you’re using ineffective methods. Which is a shame. Not getting results is the chief reason you end up quitting.
It’s easy to build muscle the natural way. But you have to know how. These 10 tips will help you — How to Build Muscle: The Definitive Guide.
1. Get Stronger. Strength training builds muscle. The stronger you are, the stronger you’ll look. Check out the Beginner Strength Training Program if you don’t know where to start. It takes 3 x 30 mins a week.
2. Use Free Weights. Free weights are your best tool to get stronger. Free weights are:
- Efficient. Work more muscles, learn you to balance & control the bar.
- Safe. Work your body through natural motions, not fixed ones.
- Versatile. Plenty of exercises with one barbell. Great for home gyms.
3. Train Your Legs. Don’t lose your time training abs, chest & biceps only. You need to train your whole body, especially the legs. If you could do only one exercise, it would be the Squat.
4. Eat. Food speeds up recovery & builds muscle. Eat at least your body-weight in lbs x 18 calories. Eat every 3 hours. Eat post workout.
Strength training burns calories. You’ll need to eat more to keep your current body-weight. Never starve yourself to death. Even if you want to build muscle while losing fat.
5. Eat Healthfully. Limit junk food & alcohol consumption to once or twice a week. Eat healthy the rest of the time, you need:
- Vitamins & Minerals. All kind of veggies & fruits.
- Whole Grain Carbs. Brown rice, bread, pasta, oatmeal.
- Healthy Fats. Fish oil, saturated fat, flax seeds, olive oil.
- Fiber. Green veggies, flax seeds, whole grains.
Go for whole food. Use multi-vitamins & fish oil supplements if you want. It doesn’t need to be expensive, you can eat healthfully while keeping it cheap.
6. Drink Water. Strength training causes water loss. Drink water to avoid dehydration & help muscle recovery. One gallon a day will do.
7. Get Protein. Proteins are the muscle building blocks. You need protein for recovery & to build muscle. Plenty of sources you can choose from:
- Meat. Beef, pork, lamb, deer, buffalo, …
- Eggs. Eat the yolk, it’s full of vitamins.
- Poultry. Chicken, turkey, duck, …
- Fish. Tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, …
- Dairy. Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, …
- Whey. Not necessary but easy for post workout shakes.
Eat at least 1g protein/body-weight in lbs daily. Feel free to experiment with higher protein intakes.
8. Rest. Muscles grow after your workout, not during. Give your muscles time to recover & grow.
- Don’t Train Daily. Keep one day rest between two workouts.
- Sleep. 8 hours of sleep on average should be enough.
9. Plan Ahead. Career, business, family, friends, hobbies, etc. All will interfere with your goal to build muscle. Plan ahead:
- Free Time. Train early in the morning or directly after work.
- Prepare. Prepare your food for work, prepare your gym bag.
- Shop. Go to the grocery store, get the food you need to build muscle.
Build a lifestyle that helps you achieving your goals. Build the exercise habit.
10. Persist. Don’t believe the hype. It takes time to build muscle. If you’re a beginner: at least 2 months to see serious change. Measure your muscle gains & keep a training log to keep yourself motivated.
The only thing that will prevent you achieving success is you. Persist.
He also responds to some comments, including a discussion of common myths.
GTD urges us to make lists to get stuff off our mind. And in an earlier post, I discussed the idea of using writing (repetitively) to communicate with your unconscious mind. Now Lifehack.org explores why writing something down helps us remember it. As he says:
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on note-taking skills. One common experience many people have, and that several people mentioned in response to that post, is that when they take good notes they remember things well enough that they rarely end up having to look at their notes again.
In fact, it seems that writing anything down makes us remember it better. On the other hand, not writing things down is just asking to forget. It’s a kind of mental Catch-22: the only way not to have to write things down is to write them down so you remember them well enough not to have written them down.
Curious about this, I decided to do some research into the psychology of writing and memory.
Good idea from Lifehacker:
Schedule free wake-up calls and reminders online with web site Wakerupper. Just enter the time and date you want your call, your timezone, phone number, email address, and an optional bit of reminder text that will be played text-to-speech style when you get the call. The site requires no registration, though registration is possible if you want to use the service for more than the occasional one-off wake-up call. Most of us have learned to use our cell phones as anywhere alarms, but if you’re paranoid about waking up when you’re traveling or before an important meeting, Wakerupper is a useful tool for creating anywhere, anytime wake-up calls (a little redundancy is always calming). Wakerupper
On a related note, today I got my first email reminder from MemoToMe, and I must say that getting an email telling you it’s time to do something makes it much easier to get to it–for me, anyway; YMMV.
The lunchtime trigger seems to work: I finish my sandwich, then walk out the door. Today’s walk was 5 blocks out, so 10 blocks total. (These are smallish, Monterey blocks, not the enormous city blocks.) Total was 15 minutes, so by the end of the third week—two weeks from today—I should be at the 45 minute minimum the doctor requested. Of course, as I continue walking I may end up having to add another block or two because my speed will improve.
I notice already that I’m sleeping more soundly. Nothing like getting tired to help with sleep.
I wear New Balance walking shoes, model 1046. New Balance keeps discontinuing models, which is irritating.
The U.S. has a patchwork of deposit laws on soft drink bottles and cans. Most states have no deposit, but some states — Michigan, for example — have deposits. The cans are the same, so you can make ten cents by buying a can in one state and then returning it for the deposit in Michigan.
Ten people have been arrested for making more than $500,000 doing this:
They ran grocery stores such as Save Plus Superstore in Pontiac, The Larosa Market In Sylvan Lake and Value Foods in Ypsilanti, police also raided The Farmer John, Savemart Food Center and the Americana foods, all three in Detroit.Investigators alleged that millions of non-redeemable out-of-state cans were collected, crushed, packaged in plastic bags and sold at a discount to merchants who then redeemed them.
Bulk redemption payments from the state are based on weight.
Nice arbitrage scam.
Via My Mind On Books, some more Daniel Kahneman goodness from UC Berkeley:
- Daniel Kahneman interview (Conversations with History interview with Harry Kreisler)
- Explorations of the Mind – Intuition: The Marvels and the Flaws by Daniel Kahneman
- Explorations of the Mind – Well-Being: Living and Thinking About It by Daniel Kahneman
Note that these use RealPlayer. UC Berkeley has quite a list of lectures: browse for more.
At least according to Popular Mechanics:
It sounds like a scam — a harness that attaches to your wrists and “makes loads feel up to 50 percent lighter.” We can’t vouch for that number, but Handi-Straps ($60) definitely work. When we tried carrying boxes, buckets and even a co-worker, the straps connected to our wrists went taut before our arms could fully extend, distributing the load throughout the harness. The optional hooks offer a better grip for handles. The device is being tested by New York City’s fire department to help transport loaded gurneys. handi-straps.com
Here’s some help (via The Week magazine):
Skobee.com seems particularly interesting. From The Week: “… a great way to make plans on the fly. Its ‘fuzzy scheduling’ lets one person suggest an activity and others “chim in with date, time, and location suggestions.” You can even visually compare schedules with your friends to identify a time that works.”
The Week credits Consumer Report ShopSmart with the info.
Here’s Molly taking her ease at the top of her kitty tree. It’s placed next to the hutch, so she can climb the tree and then just step over to the hutch.
The tree that Molly has is exceptionally nice and really looks like a piece of furniture. Recommended. Take a look:
Many modern discussions on free will include a particular experiment along with observations that the conscious part of our minds often get in the way, rather than helping. From an earlier post:
Curiously, considering it is over 20 years old, a single experiment dominated our discussions. Reported in 1983 (and replicated variously) by Benjamin Libet at the University of California, San Francisco, the experiment is crucial because it seems to show we don’t have free will. Using an electroencephalogram, Libet and his colleagues monitored their subjects’ brains, telling them: “Lift your finger whenever you feel the urge to do so.” This is about as near as we get to free will in the lab.
It was already known that there is a detectable change in brain activity up to a second before you “spontaneously” lift your finger, but when did the urge occur in the mind? Amazingly, Libet found that his subjects’ change in brain activity occurred 300 milliseconds before they reported the urge to lift their fingers. This implies that, by measuring your brain activity, I can predict when you are going to have an urge to act. Apparently this simple but freely chosen decision is determined by the preceding brain activity. It is our brains that cause our actions. Our minds just come along for the ride.
Surely this must be nonsense. I know perfectly well that I am in control of my actions, particularly when it’s something as simple as moving my finger. Unfortunately there is ample evidence that we cannot rely on our personal experience in the case of action. As Thomas Metzinger, a philosopher at the University of Mainz in Germany, put it in Disorders of Volition, our experience of our own actions is “thin and evasive”.
This seems a strange thing to say, since our brains receive constant information about where our limbs are and how they are moving. This information comes from our skin, muscles and joints, as well as eyes and ears, and is critical for accurate movement. To reach for something, we need to know where we are starting from as well as where we are going.
However, this information forms a very minor part of our conscious experience. When we reach for something we are unaware of the way our fingers shape themselves to match the shape of the object we want to pick up, or of the corrections we make during the movement. All this is achieved by an automatic pilot in our brains. If we stop to think about it, we are likely to perform worse.
We even seem to be better at making complex decisions without conscious thought. In a recent experiment, Ap Dijksterhuis and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands asked people to decide which car to buy. The striking result was that people made better decisions if they were not given the chance to think about them.
The picture that emerges is that free will exists, but it’s the unconscious part of the mind that makes the decisions, not the conscious part. Indeed, the main job of the conscious mind seems to be to provide a story-line and rationalizations for what the unconscious mind is having us do. One has the image of the conscious mind as an observer in a howdah riding on the back of the elephant Unconscious, with the elephant picking its own route and the observer simply along for the ride, perhaps occasionally shouting warnings.