Later On

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

Archive for September 7th, 2007

Good game

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So, how far have you gotten in this game? The Wife is at level 22.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 7:25 pm

Posted in Games

Friday cat-blogging: Molly glamor shot

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A glamor shot of Miss Molly. She’s growing up fast. She can now leap from the chaise to the sofa (and back), can jump up to The Wife’s lap without having to use her back claws (for which The Wife is grateful), and can jump up onto the kitchen counter. When Sophie did that and The Wife approached, Sophie would jump to the floor and get into petting position (prone on her tummy). Molly instead waits to be lifted down.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Cats, Molly

Can lobbying by corporations be made illegal?

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Maybe—if we drop the legal fiction that corporations are “persons”. Look at this:

In 2006, Humboldt County, California, became the latest, and largest, jurisdiction to abolish the legal doctrine known as “corporate personhood.”

Measure T was successful because our all-volunteer campaign came together to pass a law that bans non-local corporations from participating in Humboldt elections. The referendum, which passed with 55 percent of the vote, also asserts that corporations cannot claim the First Amendment right to free speech.

By enacting Measure T, Humboldt County has committed an act of “municipal civil disobedience,” intentionally challenging “settled law.” But voters also recognize that Measure T is an act of common sense. We polled our community and found that 78 percent believe corruption is more likely if corporations participate in politics.

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Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 12:44 pm

Lobbyists have too much influence

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From the Washington Post:

In an attempt to raise the nation’s historically low rate of breast-feeding, federal health officials commissioned an attention-grabbing advertising campaign a few years ago to convince mothers that their babies faced real health risks if they did not breast-feed. It featured striking photos of insulin syringes and asthma inhalers topped with rubber nipples.

Plans to run these blunt ads infuriated the politically powerful infant formula industry, which hired a former chairman of the Republican National Committee and a former top regulatory official to lobby the Health and Human Services Department. Not long afterward, department political appointees toned down the campaign.

The ads ran instead with more friendly images of dandelions and cherry-topped ice cream scoops, to dramatize how breast-feeding could help avert respiratory problems and obesity. In a February 2004 letter (pdf), the lobbyists told then-HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson they were “grateful” for his staff’s intervention to stop health officials from “scaring expectant mothers into breast-feeding,” and asked for help in scaling back more of the ads.

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Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 12:41 pm

More Richard K. Morgan science-fiction

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I really like Richard K. Morgan, who writes lengthy novels. I finished the three Takeshi Kovacs novels:

  • Broken Angels (2003)
  • Market Forces (2004)
  • Woken Furies (2005)

And now I’m reading his most recent (in the US): Thirteen (titled Black Man in the UK). Gripping, so far.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 11:55 am

Posted in Books, Science fiction

Things that should not surprise me

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Some things seem obvious, but still I am surprised. Example: When I bought the Whole Foods canvas grocery bags, I had several (pleasant) surprises:

  • They held a lot.
  • They didn’t tear.
  • It was easy to keep them in the car.
  • I didn’t have to deal with all the paper and plastic bags.

The last seems obvious, but it still was a bit of a surprise because of the enormous volume of disposable bags that came with each shopping—they tend to underfill those bags, and do unnecessary double-bagging, so the absence was noticeable and, as I say, a pleasant surprise.

I’ve been using my “Refill Not Landfill” water bottles in the car for a while now, and today I noticed that the floor in back is no longer filled with empty disposable bottles that I have to clear out. Very pleasant indeed.

I have two bottles that fit the cup-holder. When one’s empty, the full one goes into the cup-holder and the empty one comes into the house, where I refill it and put it on the little “things to go out” bookcase in the hall. Simple. And the car is nicer.

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 11:04 am

Posted in Daily life

Reasons to visit the library

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Good reminders below. And do check to see whether your library has an on-line catalog. If it does, it’s very easy to check due dates, renew books, search the catalog, put books on hold, recommend books to buy and the like.

BTW, new technology (CD and DVD) make borrowing music and movies much less trouble prone: no scratched and worn vinyl, no oxide-shedding tapes, etc.

  1. Borrow Books [and Magazines – LG] – First and foremost, you can borrow books to your heart’s content. Granted, you’re only allowed a certain amount at a time, and you do have to return them by the designated date or you’ll be socked with a fine, but free book? I’m so there! Going on a long car trip? Borrow some books on tape! [And at least our library lets you check out magazines, so long as it’s not the current issue. – LG]
  2. Research – The library is the absolute best place to conduct research for school papers or writing assignments. Look up laws, zoning regulations, health issues and more.
  3. Study – The library is quiet and a great place to look up answers to things you may not know.
  4. Buy Books – Libraries play host to some awesome book sales. Mine often hosts the “Ten for a Dollar Book Drive.” Ten paperbacks for a buck? The only thing better than that is free.
  5. Borrow Movies – Would you believe my husband and I only used our Blockbuster card once? Why should we rent when the library has so many great videos and DVDs? Every weekend I take out two or three movies and we watch together after our son is in bed.
  6. Borrow Music – I admit, this is a service I don’t use often but the library has hundreds of CD’s and cassettes for your enjoyment. I have a friend who likes to borrow them for her dinner parties.
  7. Book Discussions – My library has monthly book discussions. I enjoy getting out for some intelligent conversation with other grownups – and it’s all – you guessed it, free!
  8. Kids Stuff – There’s so much stuff for kids to do at the library! Our library offers story time, craft time, sing alongs, teen book talks, summer reading programs, book signings, poetry readings, and so much more.
  9. Internet Access – Just about every library in America now offers Internet access. My library has about two dozen computers available to patrons. Each can use for about an hour before being booted off. My library also offers wireless. My power went out a lot last month and I took my laptop to the library to work.
  10. Adult Classes – The library offers so many classes for adults. I’ve seen GED training, SAT prep, art classes, pottery classes, scrapbooking, pilates and more.
  11. Local Business Promotion – Many libraries help to promote local businesses. For instance, my own library features local artists’ work, or showcases a local business each month.
  12. Socialize – The library is the place to see and be seen! Every time I go I bump into people I know! But don’t chit chat too loud!

Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 10:02 am

Good ideas on notetaking

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I particularly like the Cornell method described below.

Note-taking is one of those skills that rarely gets taught. [Others: listening and decision-making. – LG] Teachers and professors assume either that taking good notes comes naturally or that someone else must have already taught students how to take notes. Then we sit around and complain that our students don’t know how to take notes.

I figure it’s about time to do something about that. Whether you’re a high school junior or a college senior or a grad student or a mid-level professional or the Attorney General of the United States, the ability to take effective, meaningful notes is a crucial skill. Not only do good notes help us recall facts and ideas we may have forgotten, the act of writing things down helps many of us to remember them better in the first place.

What Do Notes Do?

One of the reasons people have trouble taking effective notes is that they’re not really sure what notes are for. I think a lot of people, students and professionals alike, attempt to capture a complete record of a lecture, book, or meeting in their notes — to create, in effect, minutes. This is a recipe for failure. Trying to get every last fact and figure down like that leaves no room for thinking about what you’re writing and how it fits together. If you have a personal assistant, by all means, ask him or her to write minutes; if you’re on your own, though, your notes have a different purpose to fulfill.

The purpose of note-taking is simple:

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Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 9:55 am

Keeping limits secret

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You’ll recall that “broadband” in the US is mediocre when compared to other nations (see early posts here and here and here and here and here).

Average bandwidth in the US is 1.9 Mbits/sec; puny when you look at Japan (61 Mbps), South Korea (45 Mbps),  Sweden (18 Mbps), France (17 Mpbs), and Canada (7 Mbps). And now the lack of bandwidth is starting to bite us:

The rapid growth of online videos, music and games has created a new Internet sin: using it too much.

Comcast has punished some transgressors by cutting off their Internet service, arguing that excessive downloaders hog Internet capacity and slow down the network for other customers. The company declines to reveal its download limits.

“You have no way of knowing how much is too much,” said Sandra Spalletta of Rockville, whose Internet service was suspended in March after Comcast sent her a letter warning that she and her teenage son were using too much bandwidth. They cut back on downloads but were still disconnected. She said the company would not tell her how to monitor their bandwidth use in order to comply with the limits. [Or even tell her what the limits are. – LG]

“You want to think you can rely on your home Internet service and not wake up one morning to find it turned off,” said Spalletta, who filed a complaint with the Montgomery County Office of Cable and Communication Services. “I thought it was unlimited service.” [She thought that because that’s the way it’s often sold: “unlimited service”. – LG]

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Written by Leisureguy

7 September 2007 at 9:04 am

Which are you eating?

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Of these foods, which do you eat regularly?

  • Beets
  • Cabbage
  • Guava
  • Swiss chard
  • Cinnamon
  • Purslane
  • Pomegranate juice
  • Goji berries
  • Dried plums (aka prunes)
  • Pumpkin seeds

    I score 50%, but it would be easy to raise that to 70%. The others I’ll have to look for. For extra credit: Salmon, beans, blueberries, quinoa, walnuts/almonds, spinach, artichokes, and tomatoes.
    Here’s why I asked:

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    Written by Leisureguy

    7 September 2007 at 8:31 am

    Tips on writing from the masters

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    Some good tips on writing.

    Written by Leisureguy

    7 September 2007 at 8:12 am

    Posted in Writing

    Spicy nice — and the asymmetric made symmetric

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    Great shave today. Even when you’re getting consistently good shaves, there are shaves and then there are shaves. Today is one of the latter.

    And it’s especially nice because it was done with my “asymmetric” razor — which, Gio found, is not asymmetric at all. Instead, the central upright bar is a little too narrow above its base, and so when the razor’s tightened, the blade can move a tiny amount to one side. All that’s necessary is to use the thumbnail on the protruding ends of the blade to keep it centered. Today, it was symmetric once more.

    To start at the beginning: after MR GLO had done his work, I used a Razor and Brush shave stick (you can get shave sticks from R&B in any of their soaps) with the Old Spice fragrance. I picked up my Simpsons Persian Jar 2 Super badger, soaked it under the hot-water tap, and gave it a shake.

    One thing pleasant about using a shave stick is that when you first begin to rub your face with the wet brush—that first fraction of a minute—nothing happens. You’re looking at yourself in the mirror, rubbing a wet brush over your face.

    Then, as if by a miracle, lather starts to appear, and in less than a minute your beard is covered with lather—and in this case, with a luxuriant, thick, fragrant, slick lather. And the brush itself is full of lather—lots of lather, because the PJ2 has very good capacity.

    The now-symmetric Gillette English open-comb President, with the Astra Superior Platinum blade from yesterday, felt very nice as it slid smoothly through the stubble. This is a noticeably more aggressive razor than the Weishi, and for me it feels good.

    One sign of a very good shave is when, as you rinse after the second pass, you feel an almost smooth visage. That’s what I felt, and the final pass required almost no touch-up.

    Alum block and Royall Spyce aftershave, and then a nice pint of freshly made coffee.

    Written by Leisureguy

    7 September 2007 at 8:08 am

    Posted in Shaving

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