Later On

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

Archive for February 3rd, 2007

Power outage in New Monterey

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My resolution to do fewer posts got a big boost by a 7-hour power outage here in New Monterey. No idea yet what was the cause, but a huge chunk of New Monterey was without power from around 2:00 to 8:45.

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 9:29 pm

Posted in Daily life

Good grocery bags

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I bought a couple of the 99¢ Whole Foods cloth grocery bags. Very nice, quite capacious, and won’t rip open and drop food and jars onto the driveway. I keep them in the passenger seat, so I remember to take them into the store with me, and I bravely use them at Trader Joe’s and Nob Hill, too. Really quite nice—apart from the environmental factor, it turns out that these bags are more convenient than using disposable bags, which take up a lot of space in the garbage or kitchen. Give it a go. Trader Joe’s sells their own, but I couldn’t resist the 99¢ price at Whole Foods.

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 1:30 pm

Posted in Daily life, Environment

BlogDesk and Google Reader

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A couple of comments on techno things:

  1. How I’m limiting posts using BlogDesk
  2. Google Reader can be a big help

First: Limiting posts. Hey, this is going to work extremely well. Here’s what I’m doing: I created 12 posts in BlogDesk (a great little blogging tool—free, too):

  • Cooking 1,2
  • Culture
  • Politics 1,2,3
  • Science 1,2,3
  • Shaving
  • Wild Card 1,2 (cats, daily life, etc.)

I save those “placeholder” posts, then open one when I have something to say and make the entry and then either save it for another entry or go ahead and publish it if it seems like a “standalone.”

I can see, BTW, that my actual posts might not follow that distribution—on some days, for example, I might have 5 or 6 posts in a given category (pre-empting posts from another category), but I’ll keep the provisional titles as reminders of the kind of diversity I want.

Second: Using Google Reader to manage RSS feeds. Although Firefox does include a simple RSS feed mechanism, it’s really not a good RSS reader. Let me highly recommend that you try Google Reader. Just try it for a few days. Subscribe to the blogs that you mostly read, and see how nice it is. Quite a few blogs will allow you to read the entire post in Google Reader. (Later On does, though the videos don’t make it through.)

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Software

Inadequate evidence against Iran

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From this morning’s LA Times, a story going at more length into what was reported earlier:

Bush administration officials acknowledged Friday that they had yet to compile evidence strong enough to back up publicly their claims that Iran is fomenting violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.

Administration officials have long complained that Iran was supplying Shiite Muslim militants with lethal explosives and other materiel used to kill U.S. military personnel. But despite several pledges to make the evidence public, the administration has twice postponed the release — most recently, a briefing by military officials scheduled for last Tuesday in Baghdad.

“The truth is, quite frankly, we thought the briefing overstated, and we sent it back to get it narrowed and focused on the facts,” national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley said Friday.

The acknowledgment comes amid shifting administration messages on Iran. After several weeks of saber rattling that included a stiff warning by President Bush and the dispatch of two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Persian Gulf, near Iran, the administration has insisted in recent days that it does not want to escalate tensions or to invade Iran.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates seemed to concede Friday that U.S. officials can’t say for sure whether the Iranian government is involved in assisting the attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq.

“I don’t know that we know the answer to that question,” Gates said.

Earlier this week, U.S. officials acknowledged that they were uncertain about the strength of their evidence and were reluctant to issue potentially questionable data in the wake of the intelligence failures and erroneous assessments that preceded the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 12:14 pm

God in daily life

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This amazes me: more than 1 in 4 of people polled think that God decides who wins the Super Bowl. From The Carpetbagger:

Fox News released a poll (.pdf) this week with many of the usual political questions one would expect to see right now — the 2008 presidential race, the war, etc. But, with the Super Bowl in mind, the network also asked respondents two of the strangest questions I’ve ever seen in a national poll.

35. Do you believe God plays a role in determining which team wins a sporting event?

Yes: 27%
No: 66%
Don’t know: 7%

36. Which team do you think God wants to win the Super Bowl this year?

Chicago Bears: 14%
Indianapolis Colts: 11%
Same/No difference: 16%
God’s too busy/doesn’t play favorites: 33%
Don’t believe in God: 1%
Don’t know: 25%

This raises questions: First, if God “wants” a team to win, wouldn’t they win? Second, does this mean that the team’s strength is irrelevant? Or should we believe, as Damon Runyan says, “It may be that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong—but that’s the way to bet.” Third, does God really make all the decisions of our lives—whether we catch the train or not, whether we have a car accident or not, whether we get sick or not, and so on? If so, what responsibility do we have?

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 11:39 am

George Soros, bête noire of the Neo-Cons

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Steve Clemmons has an especially good and thoughtful post today, dealing with remarks George Soros made at Davos and the Neo-Con reaction to those remarks. I highly recommend that you read the entire post, but let me mention one aspect only. First a quotation for an account of his remarks:

After asserting that the United States is recognizing the error it made in Iraq, Soros said, “To what extent it recognizes the mistake will determine its future.”

He went on to say that Turkey and Japan are still hurt by a reluctance to admit to dark parts of their history, and contrasted that reluctance to Germany’s rejection of its Nazi-era past.

“America needs to follow the policies it has introduced in Germany,” Soros said. “We have to go through a certain de-Nazification process.”

Soros spokesman Michael Vachon told Page Six: “There is nothing unpatriotic about demanding accountability from the president. Those responsible for taking America into this needless war should do us all a favor and retire from public office.”

And Steve Clemons’s remarks: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 11:35 am

Blog experiment

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In talking with a blog reader, I learned that I might be putting up too many posts a day—more than a reader can keep up with.

My selection technique has been the following: read the newspapers and blogs that I follow, and when I find something that I would read aloud to the person in the room with me, post it.

Unfortunately, that does lead to a lot of posting. So I’m going to try an experiment: 12 posts a day, divided roughly as follows:

3 politics (difficult, with so much going on)
3 science
3 cooking
1 shaving
1 culture (books, movies, music… )
1 wild card

We’ll see how well this works. What do you think?

UPDATE: After experimenting a while, I think this might work. I quickly see that the distribution of topics among the 12 posts is going to vary, but that’s okay: some days science will take the lead, some days cooking, etc. But sticking to 12 posts might be easier than I thought.

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 10:03 am

Posted in Daily life

Dell’s in trouble

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I run a Dell computer, but there’s no doubt that the company has its problems—recently with tech support, though they may have addressed that. But now this:

Michael Dell, who this week returned to day-to-day control of the troubled computer maker that bears his name, has been slapped with a lawsuit alleging he and the company benefited from billions of dollars in kickbacks from the chip maker Intel.

America’s highest-profile class action lawyer, Bill Lerach, filed a suit against Dell, its directors and the accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers, alleging that the company used the payments to prop up quarterly profits.

The central claim is that Intel gave Dell steep discounts in return for freezing out rival chip makers, particularly Advanced Micro Devices. Several investors have argued that Dell’s refusal – until last year – to use AMD chips was one reason why it has ceded market leadership to Hewlett-Packard.

Dell’s collapsing market share triggered another profits warning this week and led to the ousting of the company’s chief executive, Kevin Rollins. Mr Dell has now added the chief executive role to his job of chairman.

The suit claims Dell received payments from Intel worth about $1bn (£508m) a year. The payments were spread out unevenly over the four quarters, the complaint alleges, and Dell became dependent upon the money. As it was paid at, or near, the end of Dell’s quarters, it had a “direct, material impact” on the computer maker’s operating profits.

The suit also claims Intel insisted that the computer maker maintain secrecy about the payments because it feared competition officials would take legal action against it. Dell declined to comment on the allegations.

Intel has denied it paid kickbacks to secure business from Dell. A spokesman said most of the allegations “rehash” those made in the legal battle with AMD, while other claims in the lawsuit appear to have been “made up”.

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 9:29 am

Posted in Business, Technology

Another white chili recipe

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Here’s the recipe, and note this comment:

Honestly, this chili is great for those health conscious eaters out there – but it’s missing something for me. I think it needs more jalapeño peppers – it certainly wasn’t hot after all the simmering. But man did it smell good while it was cooking. In fact, one of our neighbors came by and asked what we were cooking because it was smelling so good in the hallway. Next time I’ll start with a whole chicken and make the chicken stock from scratch – the chicken breasts were a bit too dry and the stock lacked a bit more flavor then I was expecting. Overall, still very tasty – next time I’ll just make up my own recipe 🙂

Note that he used canned chopped jalapeño peppers instead of the canned chopped green chilis called for in the recipe as given. Fresh jalapeños would have given more heat.

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 9:14 am

Posted in Recipes & Cooking

Fitday: needed? or not?

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I felt I had mastered Fitday and have taken a week off from the careful measurement. This morning I noticed I had put on 3 lbs. Back to Fitday. I can catch up quickly by ratcheting down the daily calorie count a bit. At least I know what to do and can set about it.

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 8:57 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health

A two-pass shave

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I very seldom do a two-pass shave: too much stubble left after the with-the-grain pass to attempt an against-the-grain (final) pass. So for me, the three-pass shave is the rule, with an occasional four-pass shave.

But today, when I rinsed after the first pass, I felt almost no stubble. I was using a Vision with a new(ish) Feather blade, as I was the last time this happened. So the second pass was against the grain, and I was done. No nicks, no cuts—just perfect smoothness.

The lather may have contributed: a wonderfully thick, wet lather of Mitchell’s Wool Fat Shaving Soap, built on my face with my Rooney Style 2 Finest. Finished with alum bar and Pinaud’s Bay Rum aftershave.

I’m mostly a modest guy, but I can’t help but feel proud when I get a shave like this in two passes. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 8:55 am

Posted in Shaving

When cats ATTACK!

with one comment

Written by Leisureguy

3 February 2007 at 8:35 am

Posted in Cats, Video

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