Later On

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

Archive for November 13th, 2007

APA (Always pay attention)

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 6:16 pm

Posted in Daily life

Sticker shock

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Just refilled the gas tank: normal 4-door sedan, regular unleaded 87 octane. Fill-up at self-service: $58.00. Wow.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 2:47 pm

Posted in Daily life

Invisible piano

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Cats, Video

Squeeze a lemon into your green tea

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Might make it more effective. It should be noted that white tea delivers even more the antioxidants and health benefits than green tea.

A study found that citrus juices enable more of green tea’s unique antioxidants to remain after simulated digestion, making the pairing even healthier than previously thought.

The study compared the effect of various beverage additives on catechins, naturally occurring antioxidants found in tea. Results suggest that complementing green tea with either citrus juices or vitamin C likely increases the amount of catechins available for the body to absorb.

“Although these results are preliminary, I think it’s encouraging that a big part of the puzzle comes down to simple chemistry,” said Mario Ferruzzi, assistant professor of food science at Purdue University and the study’s lead author.

Catechins (pronounced KA’-teh-kins), display health-promoting qualities and may be responsible for some of green tea’s reported health benefits, like reduced risk of cancer, heart attack and stroke. The problem, Ferruzzi said, is that catechins are relatively unstable in non-acidic environments, such as the intestines, and less than 20 percent of the total remains after digestion.

“Off the bat you are eliminating a large majority of the catechins from plain green tea,” Ferruzzi said. “We have to address this fact if we want to improve bodily absorption.”

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 1:57 pm

Should incandescent bulbs be banned?

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Excellent (long) article on this question, via

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 1:44 pm

Good news: Feinstein faces censure

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Sure hope it happens. And Chuck Schumer shouldn’t get off scot-free, either.

One day after voting to elevate a divisive conservative judge to the federal appeals court in New Orleans, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was the president’s guest aboard Air Force One. She had been invited to survey the damage from the recent spate of Southern California wildfires.

The senator later remarked privately that she found her conversation with Bush aboard Air Force One “illuminating,” a source close to Feinstein told the Huffington Post.

Two weeks later, Feinstein was one of two Democrats on the Senate judiciary committee to vote to send Michael Mukasey’s nomination to be the new attorney general to the full Senate. Her support helped turn the tide in favor of a nomination that faced an uncertain future after Mukasey refused to say whether waterboarding was torture.

When the full Senate voted, Feinstein was one of only six Democrats to vote in favor of confirming Mukasey.

Now, a coalition of progressive Democrats upset with Feinstein’s controversial votes will ask the California Democratic Party to censure her at its executive board meeting this weekend, the Huffington Post has learned.

The move comes as Feinstein again finds herself under fire for saying Thursday that she now supports granting legal immunity to telecom companies that shared customer email and phone messages with the federal government as part of the warrantless surveillance program.

“Dianne Feinstein does not listen to the people of California,” said Rick Jacobs, president of the Courage Campaign, a progressive organization in California. “She supports George Bush’s agenda time after time.”

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 1:25 pm

Top 10 reasons given by global warming skeptics

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Good summary:

What are some of the reasons why “climate sceptics” dispute the evidence that human activities such as industrial emissions of greenhouse gases and deforestation are bringing potentially dangerous changes to the Earth’s climate? As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finalises its landmark report for 2007, we look at 10 of the arguments most often made against the IPCC consensus, and some of the counter-arguments made by scientists who agree with the IPCC.

Sceptic Counter
Instruments show there has been some warming of the Earth’s surface since 1979, but the actual value is subject to large errors. Most long-term data comes from surface weather stations. Many of these are in urban centres which have expanded in both size and energy use. When these stations observe a temperature rise, they are simply measuring the “urban heat island effect”. In addition, coverage is patchy, with some regions of the world almost devoid of instruments. Data going back further than a century or two is derived from “proxy” indicators such as tree-rings and stalactites which, again, are subject to large errors. Warming is unequivocal. Weather stations, ocean measurements, decreases in snow cover, reductions in Arctic sea ice, longer growing seasons, balloon measurements, boreholes and satellites all show results consistent with the surface record of warming. The urban heat island effect is real but small; and it has been studied and corrected for. Analyses by Nasa for example use only rural stations to calculate trends. Recently, work has shown that if you analyse long-term global temperature rise for windy days and calm days separately, there is no difference. If the urban heat island effect were large, you would expect to see a bigger trend for calm days when more of the heat stays in the city. Furthermore, the pattern of warming globally doesn’t resemble the pattern of urbanisation, with the greatest warming seen in the Arctic and northern high latitudes. Globally, there is a warming trend of about 0.8C since 1900, more than half of which has occurred since 1979.
Sceptic Counter
Since 1998 – almost a decade – the record, as determined by observations from satellites and balloon radiosondes, shows no warming. 1998 was an exceptionally warm year because of the strong El Nino event. Variability from year to year is expected, and picking a specific warm year to start an analysis is “cherry-picking”; if you picked 1997 or 1999 you would see a sharper rise. Even so, the linear trends since 1998 are still positive.
Sceptic Counter
The beginning of the last Millennium saw a “Mediaeval Warm Period” when temperatures, certainly in Europe, were higher than they are now. Grapes grew in northern England. Ice-bound mountain passes opened in the Alps. The Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than it is today. There have been many periods in Earth history that were warmer than today – if not the MWP, then maybe the last interglacial (125,000 years ago) or the Pliocene (three million years ago). Whether those variations were caused by solar forcing, the Earth’s orbital wobbles or continental configurations, none of those causes apply today. Evidence for a Mediaeval Warm Period outside Europe is patchy at best, and is often not contemporary with the warmth in Europe. As the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) puts it: “The idea of a global or hemispheric Mediaeval Warm Period that was warmer than today has turned out to be incorrect”. Additionally, although the Arctic was warmer in the 1930s than in the following few decades, it is now warmer still.
Sceptic Counter
Computer models are the main way of forecasting future climate change. But despite decades of development they are unable to model all the processes involved; for example, the influence of clouds, the distribution of water vapour, the impact of warm seawater on ice-shelves and the response of plants to changes in water supply. Climate models follow the old maxim of “garbage in, garbage out”. Models are simply ways to quantify understanding of climate. They will never be perfect and they will never be able to forecast the future exactly. However, models are tested and validated against all sorts of data. Over the last 20 years they have become able to simulate more physical, chemical and biological processes, and work on smaller spatial scales. The 2007 IPCC report produced regional climate projections in detail that would have been impossible in its 2001 assessment. All of the robust results from modelling have both theoretical and observational support.
Sceptic Counter
Computer models predict that the lower levels of the atmosphere, the troposphere, should be warming faster than the Earth’s surface. Measurements show the opposite. So either this is another failing of the models, or one set of measurements is flawed, or there are holes in our understanding of the science. Lower levels of the troposphere are warming; but measuring the exact rate has been an uncertain process, particularly in the satellite era (since 1979). Readings from different satellites need to be tied together, and each has its own problems with orbital decay and sensor drift. Two separate analyses show consistent warming, one faster than the surface and one slightly less. Within the uncertainties of the data, there is no discrepancy that needs to be dealt with. Information from balloons has its own problems but the IPCC concluded this year: “For the period since 1958, overall global and tropical tropospheric warming estimated from radiosondes has slightly exceeded surface warming”.
Sceptic Counter
Earth history shows climate has regularly responded to cyclical changes in the Sun’s energy output. Any warming we see can be attributed mainly to variations in the Sun’s magnetic field and solar wind. Solar variations do affect climate, but they are not the only factor. As there has been no positive trend in any solar index since the 1960s (and possibly a small negative trend), solar forcing cannot be responsible for the recent temperature trends. The difference between the solar minimum and solar maximum over the 11-year solar cycle is 10 times smaller than the effect of greenhouse gases over the same interval.
Sceptic Counter
Ice-cores dating back nearly one million years show a pattern of temperature and CO2 rise at roughly 100,000-year intervals. But the CO2 rise has always come after the temperature rise, not before, presumably as warmer temperatures have liberated the gas from oceans. This is largely true, but largely irrelevant. Ancient ice-cores do show CO2 rising after temperature by a few hundred years – a timescale associated with the ocean response to atmospheric changes mainly driven by wobbles in the Earth’s orbit. However, the situation today is dramatically different. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere (35% increase over pre-industrial levels) is from human emissions. Levels are higher than have been seen in 650,000 years of ice-core records, and are possibly higher than any time since three million years ago.
Sceptic Counter
Before the era of satellite observation began in the 1970s, measurements were ad-hoc and haphazard. Hurricanes would be reported only if they hit land or shipping. Arctic ice extent was measured only during expeditions. The satellite record for these phenomena is too short to justify claims that hurricanes are becoming stronger or more frequent, or that there is anything exceptional about the apparent shrinkage in Arctic ice. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment project notes that systematic collection of data in parts of the Arctic began in the late 18th Century. The US National Hurricane Center notes that “organised reconnaissance” for Atlantic storms began in 1944. So although historical data is not as complete as one might like, conclusions can be drawn. And the IPCC does not claim that global warming will make hurricanes more frequent – its 2007 report says that if anything, they are likely to become less frequent, but more intense.
Sceptic Counter
The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth’s surface about 33C warmer than it would otherwise be. Water vapour is the most important greenhouse gas, accounting for about 98% of all warming. So changes in carbon dioxide or methane concentrations would have a relatively small impact. Water vapour concentrations are rising, but this does not necessarily increase warming – it depends how the water vapour is distributed. Water vapour is essentially in balance with the planet’s temperature on annual timescales and longer, whereas trace greenhouse gases such as CO2 stay in the atmosphere on a timescale of decades to centuries. The statement that water vapour is “98% of the greenhouse effect” is simply false. In fact, it does about 50% of the work; clouds add another 25%, with CO2 and the other greenhouse gases contributing the remaining quarter. Water vapour concentrations are increasing in response to rising temperatures, and there is evidence that this is adding to warming, for example in Europe. The fact that water vapour is a feedback is included in all climate models.
Sceptic Counter
The Kyoto Protocol will not reduce emissions of greenhouse gases noticeably. The targets were too low, applied only to certain countries, and have been rendered meaningless by loopholes. Many governments that enthuse about the treaty are not going to meet the reduction targets that they signed up to. Even if it is real, man-made climate change is just one problem among many facing the world’s rich and poor alike. Governments and societies should respond proportionately, not pretend that climate is a special case. And some economists believe that a warmer climate would, on balance, improve lives. Arguments over the Kyoto Protocol are outside the realms of science, although it certainly will not reduce greenhouse gas emissions as far or as fast as the IPCC indicates is necessary. The latest IPCC Working Group 2 report suggest that the impact of man-made climate change will on balance be deleterious, particular to the poorer countries of the tropics, although colder regions may see benefits such as increased crop yields. Investment in energy efficiency, new energy technologies and renewables are likely to benefit the developing world.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 1:20 pm

Cheese dip

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This actually sounds pretty good to me:

Lil’s 3 Cheese Dip
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 30 servings

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup mayonnaise
6 scallions, chopped
Cayenne pepper or chili powder to taste
2 quart (8×8) baking dish

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine cheese, mayonnaise, scallions, cayenne pepper (or chili powder) in a medium-size bowl and transfer to an ungreased baking dish.Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes. Serve with tortilla chips.

That’s from a book. I don’t have the book, but the recipe was included in a newsletter. The reason I like the look of the recipe is that we used to make a similar hors d’oeuvre: Grate some Swiss cheese, mix well with some mayo, and put on top of thin slices of red onion on small bread squares (one of those mini-loaves). Put under a broiler, and… tasty! I then simplified it to mixing grated Swiss, mayo, and chopped red onion, putting that on a piece of toast and then broiling. Yum.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 12:34 pm

Sensible comments from Canada on no-fly lists

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Very refreshing. Don’t look for Mike Chertoff to say anything like this:

Canada’s privacy commissioner says there was very little consultation with her office before the Conservative government introduced a no-fly list for air travellers last June.

And Jennifer Stoddart told the Air India inquiry Tuesday that she has so far seen little rationale for the list, part of the so-called Passenger Protect Program.

Stoddart told inquiry Commissioner John Major she is concerned that people could be placed on the list in error and face dire consequences if their identities are then disclosed to the RCMP or passed on to police agencies in other countries.

And she questioned why, if people are so dangerous that they can’t get on a plane, they are deemed safe to travel by other means in Canada.

“These are hugely general criteria and one wonders if there are these dangerous individuals who are being watched by the RCMP and CSIS, what are the dangers that they are posing, not only to airline security, but to ordinary citizens in other modes of transport in day-to-day existence?” Stoddart testified at the Ottawa inquiry.

Under the program, Canadians cannot find out in advance if they are on the no-fly list, but would be rejected at the check-in counter if there is a match to their name.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Daily life

Simple Dollar’s top 10 finance books

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Simple Dollar spent a year reading personal finance books, one a week for 52 weeks. Now he’s picked out the top ten of those. The first I definitely agree with, and copies are available for $1 at the link.

1. Your Money or Your Life
Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

This shouldn’t surprise my regular readers at all, as not only have I reviewed the book, I’ve also talked about how it changed my life and discussed it in incredible detail in the inaugural version of The Simple Dollar Book Club.

I’ve read a small mountain of personal finance books over the last year and a half and simply none of them compare to this one in terms of really making you reconsider the role that money has in your life and how to manage it better. Unlike other personal finance books, it really doesn’t focus much at all on the mechanics of how to save money or how to invest. Instead, it steps back and looks at the broader picture of how and why you’re spending money.

This material could easily become nebulous and, well, boring in the hands of lesser authors, but the late Joe Dominguez is just amazing here, transforming some very broad ideas into very, very specific things you can do to evaluate your own financial situation and how you’re choosing to spend your money and your time. It goes beyond money management into an examination of how we spend money in the modern world and whether it’s in line with our values or not. This book is incredibly heady stuff and will leave you questioning a lot about your life if you follow along and take the whole thing seriously. Read my complete review of Your Money or Your Life, and if that’s not enough detail, read through the very detailed book club entries.

Read about all ten of his choices here.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 11:52 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

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Clearing the old To-Do list

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Some good tips from I demur only in the hint to put hard tasks first. While it’s a good idea to front-load the list with the harder tasks, I find it easier to get going if the first task or two is very easy: I quickly complete it/them, check off the box(es), and have gained momentum for the first challenge. YMMV, of course.

  • Clear your schedule. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish if you give yourself a large chunk of time. A to-do ending day can’t be filled with all the regular errands of your life. The entire day needs to be focused on killing that list, so pick a day where you can have complete control over your time.
  • Wake up early. Building momentum is critical. Even if waking up at 5 am isn’t a usual event for you, it can be helpful here. Which do you think will give you the right start: dragging yourself out of bed at ten o’clock, or forcing yourself to start moving at six?
  • Collect your to-do list. If you have tasks and projects scattered over different parts of your life, you need to collect them into one list. One list detailing everything you want to have accomplished, on one piece of paper you can hold in front of you.
  • Know the end. What does being finished look like? Every task should have a clear goal and purpose beyond just getting done. You can spend an entire day attacking your to-do list and accomplishing nothing if you aren’t clear on the final picture.
  • Put hard tasks first. Pick your biggest and most difficult tasks and start on them first. Putting off the hard work is a sure sign it won’t get done. By putting the difficult tasks first, you also build a momentum that allows you to focus easily.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 11:47 am

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with ,

Very cool portable workstation

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Or not portable, if you want. It also occurs to me that this would be a great kid’s desk, since you could raise it as the kid grows by just raising the wall hooks (and the back of the desk would hide the earlier mounts). CoolTools tells us about it:


I use this portable desk as a stationary desk at work and love it. If you need to relocate your workspace for whatever reason, it folds into a large portfolio style case with handles, so it’s quite easy to move your ‘hub’ with you. You have to provide two pieces of plywood, which slip into two pockets to create the rigid surfaces. Installation is a snap: two metal “O” rings on either edge allow for easy hooking on any sturdy screw/nail/hook. The rings are 48″ apart so they line up with any standard 16″ O.C. wall stud system. I’ve been using it for a little over a year now. Boy is it sturdy. The case is nylon with nylon bands well-stitched to support all stress points. The ability to adjust the height is key, as I prefer to use a stool rather than a chair at my work. The working distance from the floor to my desk is approximately 36″, so it’s more like a workbench, except with this desk, there are no legs to deal with.  — Jai Dixon

Plan Station Portable Workstation, $65 from Amazon; or $70 from Duluth Trading; Manufactured by Finley Products, Inc.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 11:38 am

Posted in Daily life

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Oh, my: this is tempting

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From Epicurious, via Slashfood:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (about 2 cups) raw unsalted mixed nuts

Preheat oven to 375°F. In medium saucepan over moderately low heat, combine all ingredients except nuts. Cook, stirring frequently, until butter and sugar melt completely, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add nuts and toss well to combine.

Spread nuts on large rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring after 7 minutes, until golden and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. (Nuts can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored at room temperature in airtight container.)

What nuts would you use? I think pecans, first. Macadamia nuts. Walnuts. Brazil nuts. Not cashews, peanuts or almonds. Pistachios. Hazelnuts. Maybe a small proportion of pine nuts. But at least half should be pecans, IMHO.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 11:33 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Thoughts of a designer

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The design firm IDEO always takes home more awards for design than any other company. CNN interviews the CEO, who makes some interesting points (including one that I emphasized):

… Design isn’t just about making pretty things, according to British-born CEO Tim Brown. It’s about stumbling upon fresh ways to solve complicated problems. That includes his own schedule: Brown spends so much time among the more than 500 designers and thinkers in IDEO’s eight offices around the world that he has scrapped his desk.

Fortune’s Jessi Hempel met with Brown in IDEO’s new downtown Manhattan loft to discuss his iPod addiction, the dangers of e-mail, and why he loves jumping across time zones.

Control e-mail: I hate PDAs. When I’m in a meeting with someone, I want to be with them. I get more insight if I’m engaged in the moment. I consciously use a phone that doesn’t have a full keyboard on it. Now I’m using the Nokia n95. It takes great pictures.

Clear your mind: I love music. I think I have every generation of iPod ever made. I carry a Nano when I go running. It has a couple hundred songs, not much, and I always have it on shuffle. I use the Nike+ [a wireless pedometer channeled through the iPod Nano] when I run, which is about three times a week for an hour. I like the end result. I travel much better when I am fitter, and I find I have better ideas.

Take good notes: I always carry a Moleskine single-lined five-by-seven-inch notebook. I replace it when it gets full — about every six months. I have a half-dozen or so now. They’re on a shelf in my office in Palo Alto. I’ll use any pen, but I prefer my Pilot Bravo black one. It’s good for writing, sketching, and drawing. I go through the finished ones and highlight the big ideas so they don’t get lost.

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Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 11:06 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Tagged with , ,

Creationists accept SUPER-evolution

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This is safe for work if you turn off the soundtrack, which is not really needed. Super-evolution: one pair of rhinoceruses on Noah’s Ark gave rise to 100-200 species in two centuries. (Very prolific, eh?: a new species arising on average each year, just among rhinoceruses.) Here’s the video:

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 10:58 am

Posted in Humor, Religion, Science

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How cool is this?! What a trike!

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Venture One

100 mpg, 100 mph. Want one? Sure. Two passengers, 3 wheels (1.5 wheels per passenger, you see.) Hybrid now (“now” = 2009), all-electric later. More here, including videos.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 10:46 am

Help for insomnia and ADHD: blue glasses

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Scientists at John Carroll University, working in its Lighting Innovations Institute, have developed an affordable accessory that appears to reduce the symptoms of ADHD. Their discovery also has also been shown to improve sleep patterns among people who have difficulty falling asleep. The John Carroll researchers have created glasses designed to block blue light, therefore altering a person’s circadian rhythm, which leads to improvement in ADHD symptoms and sleep disorders.

The individual puts on the glasses a couple of hours ahead of bedtime, advancing the circadian rhythm. The special glasses block the blue rays that cause a delay in the start of the flow of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Normally, melatonin flow doesn’t begin until after the individual goes into darkness.

Studies indicate that promoting the earlier release of melatonin results in a marked decline of ADHD symptoms.

Major uses of the blue-blocking glasses include: providing better sleep, avoiding postpartum depression, preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder and reducing the risk of cancer.

An alternative to the glasses has also been developed in the form of night lights and light bulbs with coatings that block the blue light. Instead of wearing the glasses, an individual may simply turn off ordinary lights and, instead, turn on the ones with filters that remove the blue rays. The night light is a convenient “plug-in” device. The cost of the items ranges from approximately $5 for light bulbs and night lights to $40-$60 for glasses.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 10:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical, Science

Interesting drawback to Nalgene bottles

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And an attractive alternative:

We are big on carrying your own instead of buying bottled water, but what kind of bottle? We have suggested earlier that it was time to ditch the Nalgene polycarbonate bottles because of the possible leaching of Bisphenol A. This gender-bender mimics estrogen and could be causing all kinds of problems in men, such as breast enlargement and reduced sperm counts, and that they might make you fat.. (Some have ditched their Nalgenes for other reasons)

We had few alternatives other than Sigg metal bottles; Now, Camelbak is launching a line of bottles made from Eastman Tritan copolyester, a new material that works in molds designed for polycarbonates but that is completely Bisphenol A free.

“Consumers have been asking for a BPA-free alternative with the strength, clarity and vibrant color of polycarbonate bottles,” said Sally McCoy, CamelBak CEO. “We’re very happy to be the first company to give them that choice.”

Too bad they are not available until February. ::Camelbak

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 10:09 am

Great summary of the Pop!Tech conference this year

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DesignVerb has a lengthy and absorbing visual and video summary of Pop!Tech. It’s worth a view.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 10:00 am

Posted in Art, Technology

Acqua di Parma today

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I got a sample of Acqua di Parma shaving cream that seems to be about the quantity of a quarter of a tub. Good way to give samples, in my opinion. Today I picked the Simpsons Emperor 2 Super brush and worked up a good starting lather in the sample tub: the cream has hardened a bit over time, so I treated it more as a soap. I couldn’t tell whether the brush had actually picked up enough cream, and I think it was a bit shy—but still, when I moved to the beard, the lather came along quite well, especially after adding a driblet of hot water to the middle of the brush midway.

The Edwin Jagger Georgian with the Sputnik blade, now on its 4th or 5th shave, delivered a very smooth and easy shave: two downward passes, a sideways pass, and then the upward pass. By the fourth pass, the lather was a little lean—I definitely think I didn’t pick up enough shaving cream. I’ll use the same brush tomorrow with a soap just to confirm that it holds plenty of lather for four passes.

The finish was (of course) Acqua di Parma aftershave. Extremely smooth shave, very nice. 9.5 at least.

Written by Leisureguy

13 November 2007 at 8:45 am

Posted in Shaving

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