Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for December 20th, 2006

Tinkering with the diet

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I must say that it’s fun to tinker around with the food choices in Fitday to get exactly the right balance. Given the doctor’s suggestion that I go for 1500 calories a day, and the previously posted guidelines on fiber (30-35g/day) and carbs (55% of calories), with fat less than 30% of calories, I decided my daily goal is:

carbs 55% = 825 calories = 206 grams
fat 25% = 375 calories = 42 grams
protein 20% = 300 calories = 75 grams

I use Fitday’s Food Log to figure out the meals in advance. Breakfast is pretty much fixed, and I am now using scrambled egg whites (I got a jar of them at the grocery) to increase the protein content of breakfast.

Thursday’s dinner will be pasta with a sauce of tomatoes, Saracena olives, onion, garlic, olive oil, and chopped turkey breast with some crushed fennel seed. The total for the day:

carbs = 54% of calories
fat = 22%
protein = 22%

The total of 98% is due, I imagine, to rounding. Fiber comes in at 30g. Not bad at all. Total calories for the day will be 1549, a little over the 1500 target.

Friday the usual breakfast, and for dinner a spicy lentil stew: lentils, tomatoes, onions, garlic, chicken broth, olive oil, some elbow pasta (just an ounce) to adjust the carb balance, and spices (fresh ginger root, chili powder, turmeric, ground cumin, pepper). Totals for the day:

carbs = 54% of calories
fat = 24%
protein = 22%

The total is 100% this time. Fiber comes in at 40g because of the lentils (pulses being a great source of fiber as well as protein). Not bad at all. Total calories for the day will be 1476, which will average me back down toward 1500. (Fitday’s overview function can show you the averages for any date range, the default being the past 7 days.)

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 8:04 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

Encyclopædia of Spices

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Useful site .

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 6:38 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Virgin birth expected this Christmas

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Only (a) it’s a hatching, not a birth, and (b) it’s a Komodo Dragon. (Wouldn’t it be something if the Second Coming were in the form of a Komodo Dragon? Some heavy theological implications there.)

Here’s the story, in which the curator manages to mangle the Immaculate Conception, confusing it with the Virgin Birth. Where do they find these uneducated people? (The product of the Immaculate Conception was the BVM, who was conceived free of Original Sin so she would be suitable as the mother of God the Son.)

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 1:17 pm

Posted in Daily life

Have you heard a sea-organ?

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Take a look. Here are some other odd instruments.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 11:39 am

Posted in Art, Music

Good catch by Billmon

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One problem with the Right Wing is that they are completely irresponsible. Billmon catches this example:

In their distrust of the mainstream media, their defensiveness over President Bush and the war, and their understandable urge to buck up the nation’s will, many conservatives lost touch with reality on Iraq. They thought that they were contributing to our success, but they were only helping to forestall a cold look at conditions there and the change in strategy and tactics that would be dictated by it.

National Review editor Rich Lowry
When the Media’s Right
December 19, 2006


It is time to say it unequivocally: We are winning in Iraq . . . Even as there has been a steady diet of bad news about Iraq in the media over the last year, even as some hawks have bailed on the war in despair, even as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has become everyone’s whipping boy, the U.S. military has been regaining the strategic upper hand.

National Review editor Rich Lowry
What Went Right
April 27, 2005

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 11:35 am

Hyping bad medicine

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From the Watchdog Blog:

Researchers believe a simple fact explains a startling 15 percent decline in breast-cancer rates in the 16 months ending in December 2003, the New York Times reported in a Dec. 15 story: “[M]illions of women abandoned hormone treatment for the symptoms of menopause after a large national study concluded that the hormones slightly increased breast cancer risk.”

Later in the story, Gina Kolata wrote: “The use of estrogen to treat menopause took off in 1966, when a doctor, Robert Wilson, wrote the best-selling book ‘Feminine Forever’ and flew across the country promoting it. He insisted that estrogen could keep women young, healthy and attractive. Women would be replacing a hormone they had lost at menopause just as diabetics replace the insulin their pancreas fails to make. Before long, the menopause drugs, and in particular Prempro, from Wyeth, a combination of estrogen and progestins, became one of the most popular drugs in history.”

The press played a significant role in promoting Dr. Wilson, who has his counterparts today in physicians who promote one or another prescription drugs without disclosing that they are on the take from manufacturers. See, e.g., this Dec. 13 Wall Street Journal story: Drug Firm’s Cash Sways Debate Over Test for Pregnant Women.

You’ll find much bad news plus a dab of good news about the press and cancer-causing hormones in my out-of-print book, The Pill / An Alarming Report, which was based on my reporting for the Washington Post, and which was first published in 1979. Wilson, a Brooklyn, New York, gynecologist, I wrote in the book [with boldfacing here added],

… was syndicated by newspapers, excerpted by Look and Vogue, made tantalizing by Time. With doses of synthetic estrogen,…and of a synthetic progestogen, he said he could make sex more enjoyable “regardless of age,” and told of his “crash program” to prepare a 72-year-old English woman for her wedding night….

On March 19, 1966, writing in The New Republic, James Ridgeway and Nancy Sommers reported that the Wilson Research Foundation, headed by Dr. Wilson, had received, in 1964, $17,000 from the Searle Foundation, which was created by the Searles of G.D. Searle & Company; $8700 from Ayerst Laboratories,, and $5600 from the Upjohn Company [all manufacturers of synthetic hormone products].

Unsurprisingly, Wilson promoted his funders’ products while pretending not to do so. For example, as I wrote in The Pill, he “claimed that the menopause could be prevented with the use of birth control pills. When he shunned mention of Searle’s Enovid, he spoke of norethynodrel, a synthetic progestogen found only in Enovid…The Searle firm was Dr. Wilson’s research sponsor.

In November 1966 the Food and Drug Administration notified the company that Dr. Wilson had “publicized the use of Enovid in lay publications,…Our investigational drug regulations provide that neither the sponsor nor anyone on its behalf may disseminate promotional material claiming that the drug has been shown to be effective for the conditions for which it is being investigated. Dr. Wilson has disseminated such information. He is therefore unacceptable as an investigator for ‘Enovid in the Menopause.’”

If much more of the press than a small-circulation magazine, followed by one major newspaper, had been quick to become a watchdog rather than a promoter of Wilson, large numbers of women who now have abandoned hormone treatment for the symptoms of menopause would not have begun it in the first place. Many would not stricken by breast cancer, and some who died of the terrible disease would have lived. The precise numbers will be forever elusive, of course. But one thing is for certain: Journalism should be forever wary of books and “news” that circulate and even hype what may be delusions invented by frauds.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 11:30 am

Posted in Health, Media, Medical, Science

Froomkin column today

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Froomkin today looks over the past year through little samples from his White House Briefing column. Worth perusing, lest we forget.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 11:24 am

Things the Bush Administration hides

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The Bush Administration is engaged in an on-going effort to scrub from public view (e.g., from government Websites) all information that redounds to their discredit or includes facts that contradict their ideology. TPMmuckraker is building a list of examples, and you can view the list to date here. It’s a growing list, since the obstinate facts increase in number as the Bush Administration’s fight against reality escalates.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 11:14 am

Oh, and there’s this Firefox add-on, too

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PermaTabs: makes the tab permanent (right-click and you can turn the permanence off or on). You can refresh the tab, but if you click a link you go to a new tab for the link. I always have open three particular tabs, so having PermaTabs for those is handy.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 11:07 am

Posted in Firefox, Software

Extremely useful Firefox add-on

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Thanks to a reader for a pointer to this Firefox add-on, which automatically translates text from a national language to Esperanto: you highlight the text, right-click and select “traduku” (“translate” in imperative voice), and select the language (EN-EO to translate from English into Esperanto). Thus this:

Esperanto was created by Ludovic Lazar Zamenhof, an ophthalmologist and Polish Jew, to serve as a universal second language. The idea was that each person would learn, in addition to his or her mother tongue, one additional language: Esperanto. Since it was created, it was designed to be easy to learn: simple grammar, use of affixes to generate many words from few roots, no exceptions (e.g., no irregular verbs).

becomes this:

Esperanto estis kre de Ludovic Lazar Zamenhof, oftalmologo kaj Pola Judo, al serv kiel universala dua lingvo. La ideo estis tio, ke c^iu persono lernus, krom sia denaska lingvo, unu suplementa lingvo: Esperanto. Ekde estis kre, estis destinita por esti facile lernebla: simpla gramatiko, uzo de afiksoj produkti multajn vortojn de malmultaj radikoj, neniu(j) esceptoj (e.g., ne neregulaj verboj).

Except in the translation box the circumflex is properly atop the “c”. (C with a circumflex is pronounced like the “ch” in “church”.)

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 10:41 am

Posted in Esperanto, Firefox, Software

Important Vitamin D article (and test info)

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Here’s the article, which includes:

“Vitamin D deficiency has become epidemic for all age groups in the United States and Europe”

“The amount of 7-dehydrocholesterol in the epidermis is relatively constant until later in life, when it begins to decline. A person 70 years of age exposed to the same amount of sunlight as a 20-year-old person makes ~25% of the vitamin D3 that the 20-year-old person can make.”

“Melanin evolved as an effective natural sunscreen. Because it efficiently absorbs UVB photons, people with increased skin melanin pigmentation require longer exposures to sunlight to make the same amount of vitamin D3, compared with light-skinned people. For example, a young adult with skin type III (always burns, always tans) who was exposed to 1 minimal erythemal dose (MED) of 54 mJ/cm2 exhibited a 50-fold increase in blood concentrations of vitamin D3 within 8 h, whereas an adult of the same age with skin type V (an African American who never burns and always tans) who was exposed to 54 mJ/cm2 did not exhibit any significant increase in circulating concentrations of vitamin D3. The adult with skin type V required 5-10 times the exposure and exhibited only a 30-fold increase in the blood concentration of vitamin D3, to~30 ng/mL”

“Sunscreens work by absorbing UVB radiation and some UVA (321–400 nm) radiation before it enters the skin. Therefore, it is not surprising that a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 8 reduces the capacity of the skin to produce vitamin D3 by >95% (Figure 4Go) (20); properly used sunscreen with a SPF of 15 reduces the capacity by >98%.”

“Above 37°latitude during the months of November through February, there are marked decreases (~80-100%, depending on latitude) in the number of UVB photons reaching the earth’s surface. Therefore, very little if any vitamin D3 is produced in the skin during the winter.”

“Vitamin D3 is fat soluble and is stored in the body fat. Any excess vitamin D3 that is produced during exposure to sunlight can be stored in the body fat and used during the winter, when little vitamin D3 is produced in the skin. We recently determined that there was 4-400 ng/g vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 in abdominal fat obtained from obese patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery. Therefore, for obese individuals, the fat can be an irreversible sink for vitamin D, increasing the risk of vitamin D deficiency. We observed that, when we gave nonobese and obese subjects a 50,000 IU dose of vitamin D2 orally or exposed them to simulated sunlight in a tanning bed for the same periods of time, the obese subjects exhibited increases in blood vitamin D concentrations of no more than 50%, compared with nonobese individuals.”

So, although the idea that “15 minutes of sunlight will produce all the Vitamin D you need” is attractive, it is also simplistic and, in general, wrong—which is why studies looking at the actual vitamin D in the blood show that vitamin D deficiency is common.

There are two vitamin D tests (link NSFW—starts with sound) — 1,25(OH)D and 25(OH)D. 25(OH)D is the better marker of overall D status. It is this marker that is most strongly associated with overall health. The correct test is 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. The gold standard company is DiaSorin. Quest labs is the largest commercial lab in the US and they use this company to measure 25 hydroxy D levels. However, many other commercial labs don’t.

Healthy people in the tropics and subtropics who receive ample sun exposure have 25-hydroxyvitamin D values of 45-50 ng/ml or 115-128 nmol/l.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 9:34 am

Posted in Health

Halal (and, I presume, kosher) Pork Fat

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Well, really it’s “pork” fat: a restructured vegetable fat and water combination that has the consistency and many of the properties of pork fat (which is highly valued in cooking—for example, the best pie crusts use lard, which today is—alas—high in trans fats since it’s hydrogenated so it can sit on grocery-store shelves and not spoil—though you can find pure, unhydrogenated pork fat if you look (the best is the leaf fat around the kidneys)).

Man, glad to escape that sentence. Anyway, here’s the article.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 9:04 am

Posted in Food

Kiva talk

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A commenter very kindly provides a link to a podcast of a talk by’s president. (The link is to his comment, which contains the link to the podcast.)

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 8:33 am

Posted in Philanthropy

Megs being loving

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Sometime this morning Megs came up on the bed, purring madly, and proceeded to knead me through the duvets, up and down and all over, constantly purring her head off. Very loving.

When I finally got up later, I discovered the food bowls were empty. Not sure whether there’s a connection.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 8:32 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

Floral fragrance on a winter day

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The violet shaving cream was so nice yesterday that today I opted again for the floral motif: QED Rose Geranium shaving soap, with the Simpsons Harvard 3 Best Badger (big brother of the Harvard 2 used yesterday). Once again the whole lathering process was thoroughly enjoyable. I find now that I really like building the lather on my beard.

The Futur, which, like the Vision, has excellent acoustics, and then the alum bar after the cold-water rinse and, to complete the floral them, Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel as the aftershave: intense though non-persistent rose fragrance.

Written by Leisureguy

20 December 2006 at 8:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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