Later On

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

Archive for September 28th, 2007

Guide sales rank is 1,019

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Just a few more copies, and I’ll break 1,000 and achieve a three-digit rank. Thanks to all who are helping…

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 1:42 pm

Posted in Books, Shaving

Mini-meditation

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The following from Zen Habits sounds useful. Notice how the conscious mind is given a pointless task to keep it busy—counting the inhale-exhale cycles. Counting seems to be a good way to distract the conscious mind and get it out of the way.

It’s often hard to be as focused as we’d like to be. Many things in our hectic lives interrupt our concentration and erode focus. Think: cell phones, instant messaging, email, and co-workers vying for our time and energy.

Fortunately, there are ways to counteract these forces and bring better, more relaxed focus to our activities. One way is to use “mini-meditations.”

Mini-meditations boost focus and calm your mind throughout the day. They require no fancy preparation or techniques, and you can do them anywhere in less than a minute — so they’re ideal mindfulness exercises whether you’re at home in a quiet room or in the midst of a busy day at work.

Here’s the process:

1. Stop what you’re doing. Grab a minute for yourself, and mentally set aside what you’re doing. Remember: the whole exercise takes less than a minute, so you needn’t make a big deal about finding the perfect stopping point. It’s really more a pause than a stop, and you’ll be refreshed and able to start what you’re doing again in just a little bit.

2. Close your eyes. Let your eyelids close and relax.

3. Pay attention to your breath. The core of this exercise is awareness of your breath. You needn’t do anything special with it — just breathe normally, but do pay attention to the sensation of your breath entering and leaving your body. If you’d like, you may breathe a bit slower and more deeply than you ordinarily do.

4. Count three full inhale-exhale cycles. Inhale and exhale. As you exhale, think to yourself: one. Inhale and exhale again, and think: two. Finally, inhale and exhale, and think: three.

5. Slowly open your eyes and resume what you were doing.

That’s it! Nice and simple. Try mini-meditations periodically throughout your day, and see for yourself if it’s helpful to you.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Mental Health

Tagged with ,

New scam: be alert

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Here’s a link to Snopes.com so that you know it’s a real scam, not an Internet hoax or urban legend. Thanks to the Younger Daughter for passing this along.

In brief:

Most of us take summons for jury duty seriously, but enough people skip out on their civic duty, that a new and ominous kind of scam has surfaced.

The caller claims to be a jury coordinator. If you protest that you never received a summons for jury duty, the scammer asks you for your Social Security number and date of birth so he or she can verify the information and cancel the arrest warrant. Give out any of this information and bingo; your identity just got stolen. The scam has been reported so far in 11 states, including Oklahoma , Illinois , and Colorado . This (scam) is particularly insidious because they use intimidation over the phone to try to bully people into giving information by pretending they’re with the court system. The FBI and the federal court system have issued nationwide alerts on their web sites, warning consumers about the fraud.

For Confirmation, check these links:

And I just got a cute phishing note: a perfectly formatted email from eBay that had a message (I forget whether it was buyer or seller). It looked authentic enough that I clicked the “reply” button in the message, and went to a page that looked exactly like the eBay sign-in page—only Roboform Pro mysteriously did not pop up to fill the fields. That made me examine the page more closely, and it was a phishing page, hoping to collect my username and password. I probably would have filled it out if I were not in the habit of using Roboform Pro.

It’s a jungle out there. Be careful.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with , ,

Saving money if you shop at Macy’s

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I’ve talked before about Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), the organization of police officers that believe, based on their own law-enforcement experience, that the War Against Drugs is ill-conceived, ineffective, and a pointless waste of money, law enforcement resources, and human lives. They believe that Prohibition of drugs should be ended, as we ended the Prohibition of alcohol, and the problem approached through regulation and other means, financed by taxation of the now-legal drugs.

I just got this email:

LEAP has decided to participate in Macy’s Shop For A Cause program this year.  Macy’s will celebrate this national day of support for non-profit organizations on October 13.  Each $5 donation to LEAP gets you a ticket that, when brought to any Macy’s location on October 13, will give you 10-20% off all of your purchases on that day.

Please contact Kristin Daley at Kristin.daley@leap.cc to purchase a ticket, or for additional information.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 1:04 pm

Building muscle

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Building muscle is very important for diabetics, since muscles increase the metabolism. Moreover, replacing fat with muscle reduces insulin resistance. Some good tips (and there’s much more at that site, StrongLifts.com).

Internet & magazines are full of misinformation & myths on how to build muscle. Countless methods promise results some struggle to achieve. If you don’t get results, you’re using ineffective methods. Which is a shame. Not getting results is the chief reason you end up quitting.

It’s easy to build muscle the natural way. But you have to know how. These 10 tips will help you — How to Build Muscle: The Definitive Guide.

1. Get Stronger. Strength training builds muscle. The stronger you are, the stronger you’ll look. Check out the Beginner Strength Training Program if you don’t know where to start. It takes 3 x 30 mins a week.

2. Use Free Weights. Free weights are your best tool to get stronger. Free weights are:

  • Efficient. Work more muscles, learn you to balance & control the bar.
  • Safe. Work your body through natural motions, not fixed ones.
  • Versatile. Plenty of exercises with one barbell. Great for home gyms.

Start with an empty barbell to avoid injuries. Add weight gradually. Read articles on exercise technique & get Starting Strength.

3. Train Your Legs. Don’t lose your time training abs, chest & biceps only. You need to train your whole body, especially the legs. If you could do only one exercise, it would be the Squat.

4. Eat. Food speeds up recovery & builds muscle. Eat at least your body-weight in lbs x 18 calories. Eat every 3 hours. Eat post workout.

Strength training burns calories. You’ll need to eat more to keep your current body-weight. Never starve yourself to death. Even if you want to build muscle while losing fat.

5. Eat Healthfully. Limit junk food & alcohol consumption to once or twice a week. Eat healthy the rest of the time, you need:

  • Vitamins & Minerals. All kind of veggies & fruits.
  • Whole Grain Carbs. Brown rice, bread, pasta, oatmeal.
  • Healthy Fats. Fish oil, saturated fat, flax seeds, olive oil.
  • Fiber. Green veggies, flax seeds, whole grains.

Go for whole food. Use multi-vitamins & fish oil supplements if you want. It doesn’t need to be expensive, you can eat healthfully while keeping it cheap.

6. Drink Water. Strength training causes water loss. Drink water to avoid dehydration & help muscle recovery. One gallon a day will do.

7. Get Protein. Proteins are the muscle building blocks. You need protein for recovery & to build muscle. Plenty of sources you can choose from:

  • Meat. Beef, pork, lamb, deer, buffalo, …
  • Eggs. Eat the yolk, it’s full of vitamins.
  • Poultry. Chicken, turkey, duck, …
  • Fish. Tuna, salmon, sardines, mackerel, …
  • Dairy. Milk, cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, …
  • Whey. Not necessary but easy for post workout shakes.

Eat at least 1g protein/body-weight in lbs daily. Feel free to experiment with higher protein intakes.

8. Rest. Muscles grow after your workout, not during. Give your muscles time to recover & grow.

  • Don’t Train Daily. Keep one day rest between two workouts.
  • Sleep. 8 hours of sleep on average should be enough.

9. Plan Ahead. Career, business, family, friends, hobbies, etc. All will interfere with your goal to build muscle. Plan ahead:

  • Free Time. Train early in the morning or directly after work.
  • Prepare. Prepare your food for work, prepare your gym bag.
  • Shop. Go to the grocery store, get the food you need to build muscle.

Build a lifestyle that helps you achieving your goals. Build the exercise habit.

10. Persist. Don’t believe the hype. It takes time to build muscle. If you’re a beginner: at least 2 months to see serious change. Measure your muscle gains & keep a training log to keep yourself motivated.

The only thing that will prevent you achieving success is you. Persist.

He also responds to some comments, including a discussion of common myths.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

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And, speaking of reminders, GTD, etc.

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GTD urges us to make lists to get stuff off our mind. And in an earlier post, I discussed the idea of using writing (repetitively) to communicate with your unconscious mind. Now Lifehack.org explores why writing something down helps us remember it. As he says:

A few weeks ago I wrote a post on note-taking skills. One common experience many people have, and that several people mentioned in response to that post, is that when they take good notes they remember things well enough that they rarely end up having to look at their notes again.

In fact, it seems that writing anything down makes us remember it better. On the other hand, not writing things down is just asking to forget. It’s a kind of mental Catch-22: the only way not to have to write things down is to write them down so you remember them well enough not to have written them down.

Oy.

Curious about this, I decided to do some research into the psychology of writing and memory.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 12:53 pm

Posted in Daily life

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Wakerupper for wake-up calls & reminders

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Good idea from Lifehacker:

Wakerupper

Schedule free wake-up calls and reminders online with web site Wakerupper. Just enter the time and date you want your call, your timezone, phone number, email address, and an optional bit of reminder text that will be played text-to-speech style when you get the call. The site requires no registration, though registration is possible if you want to use the service for more than the occasional one-off wake-up call. Most of us have learned to use our cell phones as anywhere alarms, but if you’re paranoid about waking up when you’re traveling or before an important meeting, Wakerupper is a useful tool for creating anywhere, anytime wake-up calls (a little redundancy is always calming). Wakerupper

On a related note, today I got my first email reminder from MemoToMe, and I must say that getting an email telling you it’s time to do something makes it much easier to get to it–for me, anyway; YMMV.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 12:47 pm

5 days of walking

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The lunchtime trigger seems to work: I finish my sandwich, then walk out the door. Today’s walk was 5 blocks out, so 10 blocks total. (These are smallish, Monterey blocks, not the enormous city blocks.) Total was 15 minutes, so by the end of the third week—two weeks from today—I should be at the 45 minute minimum the doctor requested. Of course, as I continue walking I  may end up having to add another block or two because my speed will improve.

I notice already that I’m sleeping more soundly. Nothing like getting tired to help with sleep.

I wear New Balance walking shoes, model 1046. New Balance keeps discontinuing models, which is irritating.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 12:42 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Tagged with ,

Smuggling cans

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From Schneier on Security:

The U.S. has a patchwork of deposit laws on soft drink bottles and cans. Most states have no deposit, but some states — Michigan, for example — have deposits. The cans are the same, so you can make ten cents by buying a can in one state and then returning it for the deposit in Michigan.

Ten people have been arrested for making more than $500,000 doing this:

They ran grocery stores such as Save Plus Superstore in Pontiac, The Larosa Market In Sylvan Lake and Value Foods in Ypsilanti, police also raided The Farmer John, Savemart Food Center and the Americana foods, all three in Detroit.Investigators alleged that millions of non-redeemable out-of-state cans were collected, crushed, packaged in plastic bags and sold at a discount to merchants who then redeemed them.

Bulk redemption payments from the state are based on weight.

Nice arbitrage scam.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 11:41 am

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with ,

More Daniel Kahneman

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Via My Mind On Books, some more Daniel Kahneman goodness from UC Berkeley:

Note that these use RealPlayer. UC Berkeley has quite a list of lectures: browse for more.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 11:36 am

Weird but works

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At least according to Popular Mechanics:

Handi-straps

It sounds like a scam — a harness that attaches to your wrists and “makes loads feel up to 50 percent lighter.” We can’t vouch for that number, but Handi-Straps ($60) definitely work. When we tried carrying boxes, buckets and even a co-worker, the straps connected to our wrists went taut before our arms could fully extend, distributing the load throughout the harness. The optional hooks offer a better grip for handles. The device is being tested by New York City’s fire department to help transport loaded gurneys. handi-straps.com

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 11:29 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

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Planning a party?

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Here’s some help (via The Week magazine):

Skobee.com seems particularly interesting. From The Week: “… a great way to make plans on the fly. Its ‘fuzzy scheduling’ lets one person suggest an activity and others “chim in with date, time, and location suggestions.” You can even visually compare schedules with your friends to identify a time that works.”

The Week credits Consumer Report ShopSmart with the info.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 11:15 am

Friday cat-blogging: Molly, relaxing

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Molly tree

Here’s Molly taking her ease at the top of her kitty tree. It’s placed next to the hutch, so she can climb the tree and then just step over to the hutch.

The tree that Molly has is exceptionally nice and really looks like a piece of furniture. Recommended. Take a look:

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 10:17 am

Posted in Cats, Molly

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Tapping the power of the unconscious

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Many modern discussions on free will include a particular experiment along with observations that the conscious part of our minds often get in the way, rather than helping. From an earlier post:

Curiously, considering it is over 20 years old, a single experiment dominated our discussions. Reported in 1983 (and replicated variously) by Benjamin Libet at the University of California, San Francisco, the experiment is crucial because it seems to show we don’t have free will. Using an electroencephalogram, Libet and his colleagues monitored their subjects’ brains, telling them: “Lift your finger whenever you feel the urge to do so.” This is about as near as we get to free will in the lab.

It was already known that there is a detectable change in brain activity up to a second before you “spontaneously” lift your finger, but when did the urge occur in the mind? Amazingly, Libet found that his subjects’ change in brain activity occurred 300 milliseconds before they reported the urge to lift their fingers. This implies that, by measuring your brain activity, I can predict when you are going to have an urge to act. Apparently this simple but freely chosen decision is determined by the preceding brain activity. It is our brains that cause our actions. Our minds just come along for the ride.

Surely this must be nonsense. I know perfectly well that I am in control of my actions, particularly when it’s something as simple as moving my finger. Unfortunately there is ample evidence that we cannot rely on our personal experience in the case of action. As Thomas Metzinger, a philosopher at the University of Mainz in Germany, put it in Disorders of Volition, our experience of our own actions is “thin and evasive”.

This seems a strange thing to say, since our brains receive constant information about where our limbs are and how they are moving. This information comes from our skin, muscles and joints, as well as eyes and ears, and is critical for accurate movement. To reach for something, we need to know where we are starting from as well as where we are going.

However, this information forms a very minor part of our conscious experience. When we reach for something we are unaware of the way our fingers shape themselves to match the shape of the object we want to pick up, or of the corrections we make during the movement. All this is achieved by an automatic pilot in our brains. If we stop to think about it, we are likely to perform worse.

We even seem to be better at making complex decisions without conscious thought. In a recent experiment, Ap Dijksterhuis and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands asked people to decide which car to buy. The striking result was that people made better decisions if they were not given the chance to think about them.

The picture that emerges is that free will exists, but it’s the unconscious part of the mind that makes the decisions, not the conscious part. Indeed, the main job of the conscious mind seems to be to provide a story-line and rationalizations for what the unconscious mind is having us do. One has the image of the conscious mind as an observer in a howdah riding on the back of the elephant Unconscious, with the elephant picking its own route and the observer simply along for the ride, perhaps occasionally shouting warnings.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 10:00 am

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with , ,

Frugality backlash?

with 6 comments

I’ve come late to frugality and still struggle with it, but I do endorse the idea. And it’s especially important given the condition of the US economy and the somewhat bleak future prospects. As with shaving, the idea (it seems to me) is to turn a necessity into a pleasure and find ways to enjoy being frugal—which shouldn’t be difficult, since rather quickly frugality begins to return benefits in terms of psychological comfort, financial reserves, and the like.

At any rate, I was surprised to read this post in The Simple Dollar. Some of the comments seem to come from those who have embraced consumerism beyond what even a marketing manager could dream: people who have the idea that they have a “right” to buy whatever they want.

The issue is not one of rights, of course, but one of consequences.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 8:46 am

Posted in Daily life

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A perennial struggle

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NSFW unless you wear headphones and people can’t see your screen walking by, but well worth viewing when you get a chance. Sound starts immediately. Don’t click “Skip trailer,” since the trailer’s what you want to watch. Via a post in the ShaveMyFace.com forum.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 8:39 am

Posted in Shaving, Video

MR GLO

with 2 comments

I thought it was time to give special recognition to Musgo Real Glyce Lime Oil soap, which I use for the pre-shave washing of my beard. It has really made a difference in the quality of the shave, and those of you who are shaving with brush and lather owe it to yourselves to give it a try: wash your beard with MR GLO, partially rinse with hot water, and then apply the lather.

You can buy it from Barclay Crocker, Lee’s Razors, Sesto Sento, Smallflower, and other vendors. Lee’s charges $2 more per bar than the others.

Let us know what you think of it.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 8:36 am

Posted in Shaving

Tagged with

New blade, same shave

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The Wife said that I had made a commitment to use the Gillette English silver open-comb Aristocrat and the Treet Blue Special blades for at least a month, so I can’t back away now.

So today, with that very razor, I used a new Treet Blue Special blade. What was odd was that the difference between yesterday’s shave (10-day old Blue Special) and today’s was not night and day. In fact, relatively little difference. A little less effort here and there, but really I could have stayed with the 10-day old blade for a few more days. I was imagining a greater contrast than turned out to be the fact.

The shaving soap was Roger & Gallet, not a bad soap but nothing extra special. The brush was the Simpsons Emperor 1 Super, a very nice little brush indeed. And the aftershave was Geo. F. Trumper Skye.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2007 at 8:23 am

Posted in Shaving

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