Later On

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

Archive for September 17th, 2007

Useful advice in writing a novel

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Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 8:43 pm

Posted in Writing

Prius tires

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Time to replace the Prius tires. The Wife did some Googling and found useful info for your Prius owners: here, here, and here.

Based on that information, we’re going with the Michelin HydroEdge:

Original tire (Goodyear Integrity): 855 Revs per mile, 460 Treadwear,  50,000 Mile Warranty

Michelin HydroEdge: 856 Revs per mile, 800 Treadwear, 90,000 Mile Warranty

The Michelin has better handling and a longer lifespan, and the revs per mile are almost identical to the original tire so the odometer and speedometer won’t be affected.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 8:28 pm

Posted in Daily life

Beets

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It really works: buy a bunch of  beets with the greens—usually 3 good size beets. Run a sink full of cold water, swish the beets and greens around in that and cut off the greens.

Greens: shake out the water, chop them up, sauté in a little olive oil with salt and pepper until stems are tender. (You might cover for a bit.) Delicious. And beet greens are extremely good nutritionally (as are beets).

Beets: put all but one into a plastic bag and put that into the refrigerator. That one grate coarsely, dress with a little oil and vinegar (I used seasoned rice vinegar) and a pinch of salt. Very sweet, very tasty. The beet is raw, not cooked, but delicious.

Exactly as described.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 8:05 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

How to create a new habit

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Bottom line: by making it easier to do the new habit than not. Details here.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Daily life

Not a good sign: TSA decides whether you travel

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From Daily Kos:

Buried in the September 5 issue of the Federal Register, was a notice that this Thursday, September 20, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) will hold public hearings on their ¨Secure Flight Plan.¨

Come with me into a nightmare world where American citizens will have to obtain permission from the government before they can travel by air in the U.S.

Your government (meaning the Department of Homeland Security) is up to no good.

Beginning in February 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will implement their ¨Advance Passenger Information System (APIS),¨ the gist of which is that you will need permission from the United States Government to travel on any air or sea vessel that goes to, from or through the U.S. The travel companies will not be able to issue a boarding pass until you are cleared by DHS. This applies to ALL passengers, US citizens and visitors alike. And how do you get said permission to travel? That´s for your government to know and you to never find out.

Now TSA proposes to do for domestic travel what APIS will do for international routes. That´s what I said: the new TSA rule would require that you obtain PERMISSION to travel within the U.S.

Here is the summary of their proposed rules, which seem so reasonable, couched as they are in the blandness of governmenteez [emphasis added].

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 5:32 pm

Notebooks and pencils

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Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 4:24 pm

Posted in Notebooks

The problem with Microsoft stealth updates

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I blogged earlier how Microsoft updates its OS on your computer, even if you’ve turned “automatic updates” off. Bruce Schneier points out the serious problem:

Note that Microsoft can do this; that’s just stupid company stuff. But what’s to stop anyone else from using Microsoft’s stealth remote install capability to put anything onto anyone’s computer? How long before some smart hacker exploits this, and then writes a program that will allow all the dumb hackers to do it?

When you build a capability like this into your system, you decrease your overall security.

Some comments at the link contest his analysis.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 3:05 pm

On not giving up

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Read about persistence. Examples:

Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 4-years-old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math.

Louis Pasteur was only a mediocre pupil in undergraduate studies and ranked 15th out of 22 students in chemistry.

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded.

R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York City caught on.

F. W. Woolworth was not allowed to wait on customers when he worked in a dry goods store because, his boss said, “he didn’t have enough sense.”

When Bell telephone was struggling to get started, its owners offered all their rights to Western Union for $100,000. The offer was disdainfully rejected with the pronouncement, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?”

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Daily life

Box exchange: free boxes for moving

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From Cool Tools:

I have mixed feelings about U-Haul and their prices, but one thing they have done that is priceless is create and maintain a surprisingly helpful Box Exchange forum. It’s a standard web forum divided into geographical areas so people can request free used boxes or make theirs available for free or cheap. We just saved ourselves $250. After responding to two posts, we had something lined up in no time. We drove into the city (Manhattan) the next day from where we live in Jersey City and picked up a bunch of boxes in various sizes that were practically brand new — all for free. I basically ignored the “buy” forum as the “free” one was successful in under 24 hrs. We first tried Craigslist, but found that most people in our area at the time wanted money for boxes. From our experience, people on the U-Haul forum seemed willing to go a little out of their way to get rid of their boxes. Most of the posts are definitely from individuals, but interestingly, there were a couple of business disposing of boxes (we got ours from an electronics importer in Chinatown). We have not yet completed our big move to Wisconsin, but will be giving away our boxes the same way when we do. — Guil Barros

U-Haul Box Exchange Available from U-Haul

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Daily life

3-dimensional display (with no hokey glasses)

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Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Software, Technology

Cool idea for those using milk in coffee or tea

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Inside mug

Suck UK has a new line of coffee and tea cups coming out the end of the month. Inside the top is a range of color options that show how much milk to add: match the color. It’s particularly useful if you have someone else fetching your cuppa: you can just say “I want ‘Classic British'” or ‘Builder’s Brew’ or whatever.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

Playing Go against the computer

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Ben notes that he’s been playing against the 9×9 Go program igowin. Igowin is free and offers a quick game for a break, but 9×9 is a strange game. There are in fact 9×9 tournaments (usually a section in a regular tournament), but that format has some disadvantages—it’s almost like a single large corner.

13×13 gives a much better feel for Go, though this format lacks sides—when you back out of one corner, you find that your advancing already into the other corner. But at least you can play a more Go-like game. (Go itself is played on a 19×19 board.)

The best program—most lifelike, making the fewest seemingly random moves—that I’ve found is Go++. The latest version is version 7, and it’s just US$40. Well worth it if you want to increase your playing strength.

You can adjust the program’s playing strength, set a handicap, and choose which color the computer plays. Quite nice.

Of course, playing against other players (for example, on Kiseido Go Server) is probably best, but it’s quite understandable that one wants to practice enough to present a good showing, and Go++ is probably the best way to do it.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Games, Go, Software

Protesting in business attire

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A very good post, in which a small group of protesters, wearing formal business attire (suit and tie), march in a rally. I particularly like how they puzzled the opposition:

The counter-protesters on the side of the streets looked at us strangely; one woman whose sign read “hippies smell” was clearly perplexed.

It’s important that appearance is consistent with and assists the message. If you’re taking a serious stand, dressing seriously helps those seeing you grasp the whole thing. If your appearance contradicts the seriousness with which you make the statement, you undercut your own message.

There are those, of course, who say that appearance does not matter, but that is a triumph of ideology over facts: appearance does matter, and there’s a body of research that establishes the truth of that.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 10:48 am

Posted in Daily life

The Mediterranean Diet

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UPDATE: Earlier post here.

The Mediterranean Diet uses olive oil as the primary fat, so this is interesting:

In an in vitro study, olive oil polyphenols were found to exert bactericidal effects against 8 different strains of Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). The authors discuss the associations between H. pylori and peptic ulcer disease as well as certain types of gastric cancer. Virgin olive oil, rich in phenolic compounds that have been found to diffuse from the oil into gastric juice and remain stable for several hours in this acidic environment, was found to exert strong bactericidal activity against 8 strains of H. pylori, including 3 antibiotic-resistant strains. The strongest bactericidal effect was exerted by decarboxymethyl ligstroside aglycon (a phenolic compound), at concentrations as low as 1.3 microg/mL – a concentration significantly lower than that found in phenolic compounds from tea, wine, and other plant extracts. The results of this study suggest that virgin olive oil may help to prevent H. pylori-related peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer. The authors conclude that in vivo studies must be conducted in order to confirm these results.

“In vitro activity of olive oil polyphenols against Helicobacter pylori,” Romero C, Medina E, et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2007; 55(3): 680-6. (Address: Manuel Brenes, Food Biotechnology Department, Instituto de la Grasa (CSIC), Avenida Padre García Tejero 4, 41012 Seville, Spain. E-mail: brenes@cica.es).

And also this:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 10:30 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Strong women stay slim

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The following study substantiates some of the claims in Miriam Nelson’s Strong Women Stay Slim.

In a randomized, controlled study involving 164 overweight and obese (BMI = 25-35 kg/m(2)) women aged 25-44 years, results indicate that long-term twice-weekly strength training may help attenuate increases in intraabdominal fat and percentage body fat. The women were randomized to 1 of 2 groups for a period of 2 years – 1) treatment group: did twice-weekly strength training; 2) control group: were given brochures recommending aerobic exercise. During the study period, a 3.68% decrease in percentage body fat was observed in the treatment group, compared to a 0.14% decrease in the control group. Additionally, a 7.05% increase in intraabdominal fat was observed in the treatment group, compared to a 21.36% increase in the control group. Thus, the authors conclude, “This study suggests that strength training is an efficacious intervention for preventing percentage body fat increases and attenuating intraabdominal fat increases in overweight and obese premenopausal women.”

“Strength training and adiposity in premenopausal women: Strong, Healthy, and Empowered study,” Schmitz KH, Hannan PJ, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2007; 86(3): 566-72. (Address: Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, USA. E-mail: kschmitz@cceb.med.upenn.edu ).

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 10:17 am

Lose fat while you sleep!

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Sounds suspiciously like snake-oil, right?

In a randomized, placebo-controlled study involving 19 overweight subjects aged 18-44 years, results indicate that long-term supplementation with mixed isomer conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) may increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure during sleep. The subjects were randomized to 1 of 2 groups for a period of 6 months – 1) CLA group: received 4 g/d of 78% active CLA isomers (3.2 g/d: 39.2% cis-9, trans-11 and 38.5% trans-10,cis-12); 2) placebo group: received 4 g/d of safflower oil. At intervention end, the change in fat oxidation during sleep (0-6 mo) was found to be significantly different in the CLA group (4 g/sleep) from that in the placebo group (-7 g/sleep). Additionally, the percentage of energy from protein during sleep reduced in the CLA group (3.3%) compared with baseline. Furthermore, at intervention end, the change in sleeping energy expenditure in the placebo group (-43 kcal/sleep) was found to differ from that in the CLA group (0 kcal/sleep). Thus, the results of this study suggest that supplementation with CLA may increase fat oxidation and energy expenditure during sleep in overweight subjects.

“Conjugated linoleic acid supplementation alters the 6-mo change in fat oxidation during sleep,” Close RN, Schoeller DA, et al, Am J Clin Nutr, 2007; 86(3): 797-804. (Address: DA Schoeller, 1415 Linden Drive, Madison, WI 53706, USA. E-mail: dschoell@nutrisci.wisc.edu).

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 10:14 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Using drugs to treat pathological gambling

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I wouldn’t have thought of this:

 In a two-phase pilot study involving 27 subjects (12 female, 15 male) with DSM-IV PG (pathological gambling), results indicate that supplementation with N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) may be efficacious in reducing PG. The first phase of the study was a 2-week open-label trial during which the subjects received a mean effective dose of 1476.9 mg/day of NAC. At 2-week end, 59.3% of the subjects (n=16: NAC responders) demonstrated a 30% or more reduction in Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale Modified for Pathological Gambling (PG-YBOCS) score. In the second phase of the study, the 16 NAC responders from the first phase were randomized in a double-blind fashion to NAC or placebo for a period of 6 weeks. At intervention end, 83.3% of subjects in the NAC-supplemented group, compared to 28.6% of subjects in the placebo group still met responder criteria – defined as 30% or more reduction in PG-YBOCS score. Thus, the results of this study suggest that supplementation with NAC may b e effective in the treatment of pathological gambling. Additional studies are warranted.

“N-acetyl cysteine, a glutamate-modulating agent, in the treatment of pathological gambling: a pilot study,” Grant JE, Kim SW, Odlaug BL, Biol Psychiatry, 2007; 62(6): 652-7. (Address: Department of Psychiatry University of Minnesota School of Medicine, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. E-mail: grant045@umn.edu).

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 10:08 am

Interactive Go instruction on-line

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Ben, in the comments, reminds me of The Interactive Way to Go, a very nice instructional program. Requires Java, which you can download for free (and if you’re using a good browser, you probably already have it).

Fight dementia: learn Go. (Good bumper sticker, eh?)

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 10:04 am

Posted in Games, Go, Software

The Essential Guide to Email

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This review explains why the Guide is needed:

Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home
by David Shipley and Will Schwalbe

Pandora’s Click
A Review by Janet Malcolm

To say that Send: The Essential Guide to Email for Office and Home is more a users’ manual than a book is not to belittle it. Email is like an appliance that we have been helplessly misusing because it arrived without instructions. Thanks to David Shipley and Will Schwalbe, our blind blunderings are over. With Shipley and Schwalbe’s excellent instructions in hand we can email as confidently as we load the dishwasher and turn on the microwave.

Shipley and Schwalbe are not exaggerating when they say that their guide is essential. For, in truth, email is more like a dangerous power tool than like a harmless kitchen appliance. The more skillful (or lucky) among us have escaped serious injury, but many, perhaps most, of us have suffered the equivalent of burns, lost fingers, electric shocks, and bone fractures. Incautious emailing has cost jobs, ruined friendships, threatened marriages, subverted projects, even led to jail time. “On email, people aren’t quite themselves,” Shipley and Schwalbe write. “They are angrier, less sympathetic, less aware, more easily wounded, even more gossipy and duplicitous. Email has a tendency to encourage the lesser angels of our nature.” It also has the capacity for instant retribution. In one of their cautionary illustrations, Shipley and Schwalbe hold up an email exchange between an executive and a secretary at a large American company in China. The executive nastily wrote:

You locked me out of my office this evening because you assume I have my office key on my person. With immediate effect, you do not leave the office until you have checked with all the managers you support.

The secretary wrote back:

I locked the door because the office has been burgled in the past. Even though I’m your subordinate, please pay attention to politeness when you speak. This is the most basic human courtesy. You have your own keys. You forgot to bring them, but you still want to say it’s someone else’s fault.

She then performed the two-click operation that sent copies of her and her boss’s emails to the entire staff of the company. Before long the exchange appeared in the Chinese press and led to the executive’s resignation.

Another anecdote

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 9:55 am

Posted in Books, Technology

Megs, trying to remember

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Megs, trying to remember

Here’s Megs, trying to think of what she was about to do. Well, it’s Monday morning, and sometimes she’s a slow starter.

Written by Leisureguy

17 September 2007 at 9:49 am

Posted in Cats, Megs

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