Later On

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

Archive for August 20th, 2007

Off to San Jose

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The Younger Daughter arrives this evening. We’re off to San Jose International Airport!

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Daily life

Reagan on W.

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Direct quote from the just published The Reagan Diaries. The entry is dated May 17, 1986.

A moment I’ve been dreading. George brought his ne’er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives in Florida. The one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I’ll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they’ll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.

UPDATE: Alert reader My Alter Ego points out that this is not an actual diary entry. It’s from a lunch with Michael Kinsley and was clearly intended as a joke. More here.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 2:27 pm

Calamari steak with tomatoes

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I took the large sauté pan, poured in some olive oil and a pint and a half of small cherry tomatoes, and stirred them around with some crushed red pepper. Chopped up an onion, minced a few cloves of garlic, added that, and stirred to coat everything with the olive oil. Salt, some black pepper, then put it a 450º oven for 20 minutes.

Took it out, pushed tomatoes aside, and added two calimari steaks (about 8 oz total). Salted, peppered, and sautéed, first one side, then the other. Plated the steaks, added one piece of bread, cubed, and stirred that with the tomatoes, onion, and garlic until bread was hot, then added that to the plate as well.

Extremely tasty with a glass of chardonnay.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 2:18 pm

Testing for lead

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Lead is a terrible poison, and nowadays various regulations keep most of it out of our environment—out of gasoline, out of paints for the home or toys, and the like. But in older places, it still may be present, and of course we’ve recently found that toys from China may contain lead. The problem for the very young are the long-term effects of lead.

So if you live in a older home or have old toys for your children (from a thrift shop, for example), you may want to test for lead. This kit (via James Fallows) offers a cheap and easy test for lead.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 10:53 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Crazy navigational system

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The navigational system in the Prius went crazy a while back. For example, when we turned it on to get to San Francisco, it directed us through downtown San Jose. It began looking for obscure and indirect routes. Finally we mentioned it to the service guy this morning. He went out to the car and showed use “Route Preferences.” Somehow the “Allow Freeways” option had been unchecked. Duh. Guess I should read the manual. “Route Preferences,” I was interested to see, included quite a few options.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 10:22 am

Getting organized

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ZenHabits has a list of good tools:

Last week I shared some of the best organizing tips from you, the readers, and it was a hit. So this week, I’d like to share some of the best reader-submitted organizing tools. Note: This time, I rewrote the entries, so any references to the word “I” are referring to me, not to the reader who submitted them.

Let me please say that you should not try to adopt too many of these tools, and you certainly shouldn’t waste too much time trying them all out. Pick one or two that appeal to you, and go with them. If they don’t work, you can always choose another, but it’s important that you focus on the doing, not the tools.

  1. Google Calendar. Along with Gmail and Google Reader, Gcal is my favorite Google application — allows you to keep your life organized easily, intuitively, with no hassle or slow interface.
  2. Backpack. Great list-maker, perfect for to-do lists and other types of lists, simple and clean and nice interface. Can be accessed from anywhere: home, work, Mac, PC, mobile.  Backpack is now no longer supported. See this post for some good alternatives.
  3. Filofax-like organizer. Keeps all your info in a central spot: calendar, to do list, project list, watch-list, later-list, notebook and inbox, important addresses and phone numbers, important information to have on hand, tickler, diary.
  4. TiddlyWiki. A GTD-style wiki, with your contexts on the left side (e.g. @desk, @home, @writing, @inbox, project list) and each one of these opens a list of next actions for each location. In the list you can highlight items and link to other items, wiki style. The system is made of a single html file so it’s very portable, either on the Internet, through email, or on a flash drive.
  5. A stack of 3×5 index cards. It can be a ubiquitous capture device; keep context-based to-do lists; you project list, notes. Very modifiable, portable, fast, easy to use. (See Hipster PDA.)
  6. PocketMod. Ultra-portable planning and capturing, it’s a sheet of paper, which makes it cheap and easy. You can choose the mods you want, such as a calendar, notes, to-do lists, reference sheets, daily planner, and more.
  7. Behance Action Pad. This nice-looking organizational tool uses the Behance Action Method for creative types.
  8. do.Oh. It’s a nice to-do list web app, with a twist: it adds a zany poll. Perhaps the oddest combination of any organizer, this nevertheless makes the to-do list app fun to use, and that’s a huge selling point.
  9. The garbage can. Reduce before organizing. Toss anything that’s not absolutely needed, and you won’t have a need to organize. It’s liberating, too!
  10. Landing strip near your front door. It’s for unloading your stuff as you come in, so it stays organized, and so you don’t forget it as you leave the house. You can make your landing strip any way you like, but one reader’s setup consists of a set of hooks for backpacks, lunch kits, etc.; a box which holds keys, sunglasses, cell phones, etc.; and a basket for shoes as they come off by the front door. The reader also keeps alibrary books in a bag that hangs off one of the hooks. Simple and perfect.
  11. PalmPilot. Actually, any PDA works, but one reader swears by the Palm OS. Like the Filofax organizer above, the PDA has calendar, address book, to-do lists, documents/applications (Word & Excel, or others), clock (including alarm), calc, and more. It also syncs with work calendar. PDAs are also good for instant capture.
  12. Stickies on your desktop (computer or physical). The Stickies program is a popular one for the Mac, and one reader keeps a running to-do list using stickies for each task. The most important things go at the top, and stickies are deleted as tasks are done. Others use actual Post-It notes, on their physical desktop, in the same manner. Analog or digital, it works well.
  13. A notepad and a pen. Classic, and perfect. The Moleskine is a popular pocket notebook (I use it, because of its aesthetic appeal), but any cheap notebook works.
  14. OneNote 2007 (and one index card/day). For use with GTD.
  15. A popular online GTD oriented list application that is straightforward, easy, and free. I’ve actually tried this one and it works very well, and surprisingly the free version does everything you need.
  16. A habit list. In addition to your to-do list, your habit list keeps your action list from becoming overwhelmed by the every-day things.
  17. Remember the Milk. Does lists and tasks very well, including repetitive tasks. It has a plug-in for Google Calendar for one-stop organizing.
  18. Task Toy. Simple web-based to-do list manager, populr with GTD-types.
  19. iGTD. One of the most popular GTD apps for the Mac, and it’s free to boot.
  20. Journler. Another Mac tool, this diary/journal app helps you keep track of your life. Entries can be for anything that goes on in your day, thoughts, tasks, etc., and can be organized into folders and store files.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 8:49 am

Top 40 magazine covers of the last 40 years

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Take a look. I remembered quite a few, since the covers themselves became news in some cases, but still there were many new to me.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 8:46 am

Posted in Daily life

Diabetes and the risk factors

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Type 2 diabetes comes with a variety of risk factors, and you can minimize those by watching your diet, doing exercise, and minimizing body fat. But some diabetics become fixated on blood sugar to the exclusion of all else. The NY Times today has a story pointing out the risks beyond blood sugar:

But in focusing entirely on blood sugar, Mr. Smith ended up neglecting the most important treatment for saving lives — lowering the cholesterol level. That protects against heart disease, which eventually kills nearly everyone with diabetes.

He also was missing a second treatment that protects diabetes patients from heart attacks — controlling blood pressure. Mr. Smith assumed everything would be taken care of if he could just lower his blood sugar level.

Blood sugar control is important in diabetes, specialists say. It can help prevent dreaded complications like blindness, amputations and kidney failure. But controlling blood sugar is not enough.

Nearly 73,000 Americans die from diabetes annually, more than from any disease except heart disease, cancer, stroke and pulmonary disease.

Yet, largely because of a misunderstanding of the proper treatment, most patients are not doing even close to what they should to protect themselves. In fact, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just 7 percent are getting all the treatments they need.

I’m one of the lucky 7%: my endocrinologist, whom I see four times a year, carefully checks for all the risk factors, and in addition I take meds to control hypertension and cholesterol in addition to the meds for blood sugar, and also I take 81mg of aspirin daily , which just about every adult should be taking.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 8:31 am

Posted in Health, Medical

Carbon-steel cutting edges

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I have a carbon-steel knife that I really like: a beautiful, sharp edge. But it does require a bit more care than a stainless knife: after each use with the carbon-steel knife, I must rinse and dry it to avoid rust, and some discoloration naturally happens.

And, as it happens, my favorite blade currently is the Treet Blue Special carbon-steel blades (from Pakistan, 11.5¢ each in bulk).

I know from using knives (and reading about straight razors) that carbon steel can take a sharper edge than stainless steel. But carbon steel does tend to rust. So if you find you like a carbon steel blade, you have some choices:

  1. Use a new blade for each shave
  2. Dry the blade after use (not by rubbing it with a cloth but, for example, with a hair dryer)
  3. Easiest: After shaving, rinse the razor in hot water, give it a good shake, rinse the head in rubbing alcohol with high alcohol content, and then put it in a rack to dry. (I use an inexpensive 91% rubbing alcohol I bought at the local drugstore.) The alcohol displaces the water, and then the alcohol evaporates, leaving a dry blade that doesn’t rust.

I keep the rubbing alcohol in a one-cup canning jar, whose lift-off lid makes a tight seal that keeps the alcohol from evaporating. (I don’t use the sealing ring at all.) Lift lid, swish razor head in the alcohol, place razor on the rack to dry: quick and easy.

UPDATE: See also this post at Kafeneio for another technique.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 8:19 am

Posted in Shaving

7AM blade, second go

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I gave the 7AM blade another try today: new blade, put into my HD. The lather this time was excellent: QED’s Bathtub Gin shaving stick, and the Rooney Style 2 Finest whipped up the lather quickly.

No cuts, and the 7AM is serviceable enough. But for me, it doesn’t have the smooth cutting action of the blades I like better. I certainly could use it, but I do prefer other blades. Does this mean you shouldn’t try this one? No, certainly not. With blades, it’s very much a matter of YMMV, and some will find this their best blade. Again, if you haven’t already done so, get the large sampler packs.

Now to get cracking on the apartment. The Younger Daughter arrives this evening for a visit.

Written by Leisureguy

20 August 2007 at 7:49 am

Posted in Shaving

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