Later On

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

Archive for December 8th, 2007

Steak winegrower style

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This recipe is from Paul Bocuse’s Bocuse in Your Kitchen, though I got it from The Week magazine.

Steak Winegrower Style

1 or 2 boneless rib-eye steaks (about 1 3/4-inch thick, 1 3/4 pounds total)
3 shallots
1 medium onion
2 anchovy fillets
3 1/2 Tbsp butter
Salt, pepper
1/2 cup red wine

Bring steaks to room temperature. (Let them sit out on the counter for an hour.) Cut off excess fat from around steak. Finely chop shallots, onion, and anchovies. Place in bowl and reserve. Melt butter in large frying pan (cast-iron skillet would be ideal) over medium-high heat until very hot.

Salt and pepper steak on both sides, then place in pan. Cook steak for 6 minutes on each side for rare, 8 minutes on each side for medium rare. (Cooking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of each steak.) When done, life meat from pan and keep warm (in a warm oven, for example) while making sauce.

Stir chopped onion mixture into pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onions soften and start to brown. Stir in wine, bring to boil; boil for 1 to 2 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly; add salt and pepper if needed.

Serve steak on hot platter and slice it at table with sauce on side; or slice meat, spoon a little sauce onto each dinner plate, place slices of steak on top, and serve with any extra sauce on side. Serves 4.

UPDATE: I had this last night, and it was not nearly so good as it sounded. It was okay, but I doubt that I’ll make it again.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 5:42 pm

Cool ideas and technology

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Check them out in the NY Times Magazine. Example:

Wind turbine

Traditional wind turbines can be unreliable sources of energy because, well, the wind blows where it will. Not the case 1,000 feet up. “At a thousand feet, there is steady wind anywhere in the world,” says Mac Brown, chief operating officer of Ottawa-based Magenn Power.

To take advantage of this constant breeze, Brown has developed a lighter-than-air wind turbine capable of powering a rural village. “Picture a spinning Goodyear blimp,” Brown says. Filled with helium, outfitted with electrical generators and tethered to the ground by a conductive copper cable, the 100-foot-wide Magenn Air Rotor System (MARS) will produce 10 kilowatts of energy anywhere on earth. As the turbine spins around a horizontal axis, the generators convert the mechanical energy of the wind into electrical energy, then send it down for immediate use or battery storage.

Planning for the MARS has been under way for a few years, but this fall Magenn got the $5 million it needed to build prototypes from a California investor. In October, the MARS received its U.S. patent. Already, larger models — ones that might light a skyscraper — are in the works. Brown says he hopes his floating wind turbines will power off-the-grid villages in the developing world. He says the governments of India and Pakistan have expressed interest.

At least one argument against wind turbines — that they slice up birds and bats — isn’t valid, according to Brown. “This thing is bigger than a house,” he says. “A bird can see it and a bat can sense it.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 5:02 pm

You don’t know why your attitude changed

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We don’t really know ourselves so well as we think we do. For example:

When you change your attitude about something, do you know why? Psychologists have argued that the inner workings of our minds are largely hidden away from us. One aspect of this is the surprising finding that people are often unaware when they have changed their attitudes.

We may well, for example, be able to identify our current opinions on global warming. We might find it easy to say, “Yes, I think global warming is occurring and humans are to blame,” or, “No, it’s just a long-term trend that has nothing to do with humans”. But when our opinions change, by say watching Al Gore’s documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘, psychologists have found we are unlikely to be aware what changed our minds.

It gets weirder. In certain circumstances we may even be convinced that our attitude has never changed. So that we are convinced our ‘new’ attitude is the one we always had.

Whether or not this sounds far-fetched to you, the effect is dramatically demonstrated in an experiment carried out by Goethals and Reckman (1973).
High school students were asked their opinions on a variety of social issues, including on how children should be bussed to school and whether it would help with racial integration. The actual topic itself doesn’t matter for our purposes, what the experimenters were doing here is getting a measures of participants’ attitudes to a specific issue before the experimental manipulation.

A couple of weeks later the students were invited back for a further discussion on the bussing issue. This time, though, they were split into two groups, one that was pro- and one anti- the bussing issue. These, then, are our two experimental groups, along with a third control group, more of which, later.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 4:39 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

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Interesting theory on the CIA tapes

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It wasn’t what the tapes showed, according to this column, it was what the guy said.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Bush Administration, GOP, Government

Tagged with , ,

Who ordered the CIA torture tapes destroyed?

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8 December 2007 at 12:03 pm

Uh-oh. Move to Euros?

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“Iran, the second-biggest producer of crude oil in the Middle East, has ‘completely halted‘ all oil transactions in dollars, the state-run ISNA news agency said.” Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari said, “The dollar is an unreliable currency, considering its devaluation and the oil exporters’ losses.”

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 11:12 am

Beyond the Kindle

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The Kindle design is underwhelming, isn’t it? Very Buck Rogers. Take a look at some alternative designs (and enter your own).

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 10:24 am

Gin: Broker’s vs. Plymouth

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A commented suggested that I try Broker’s gin, and while I adore the little plastic bowler perched atop the cap, I have to say that (for me) it didn’t match up to Plymouth gin. Broker’s gin certainly isn’t bad, but in a Martini, it’s not match for Plymouth. YMMV. De gustibus non est disputandum.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 10:10 am

Posted in Daily life

Artie Shaw, 1910-2004

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Artie Shaw had a great band—in fact, five of them: he kept breaking up the bands and then later starting another.

He had a good selection of wives, as well: Jane Cairns (1932); Margaret Allen (1934-37); Lana Turner (1940); Betty Kern (1941-43), daughter of songwriter Jerome Kern; Ava Gardner (1945-46); Forever Amber author Kathleen Winsor (1946-48); Doris Dowling (1952-56) and Evelyn Keyes (1957-85). It seems, from looking at the list, that Artie didn’t wear well. He said himself that he was “a very difficult man”—grouchy, in a word. When someone asked him how he was able to marry women like Lana Turner and Ava Gardner, he said, “I asked them.” He also once commented on the advantage of being a band leader, being presented, as it were, in a bandbox, in the best possible light.

He took several sabbaticals from music, which didn’t really seem to be the center of his life as it is for many musicians. He took up benchrest shooting and became a precision marksman, ranking fourth in the United States in 1962. He became an expert fly fisherman. He wrote an autobiography, three novels, and a collection of short stories. He was, it seemed, one of those guys with considerable ability and a drive to be the best.

He was the first white bandleader to hire a black female vocalist (Billie Holiday)

One reason that his band’s music still appeals is that he carefully selected very good tunes—better than the music picked by, for example, the Glenn Miller Band. And his small-group combo, the Gramercy Five, staffed from the big band, was used for experimental music as well as standards. (You can hear the Gramercy Five here—note the harpsichord on, for example, “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.”)

Here’s Shaw in the Fred Astaire film Second Chorus playing “Concerto for Clarinet”. Shaw got two Oscar nominations for this film: Best Score and Best Song (“Love of My Life”).

And “Begin the Beguine,” the Cole Porter tune that was his first big hit and established him nationally:

And here’s a 20-minute aircheck from December 6, 1938.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 10:00 am

Posted in Jazz, Music

Coffee vs. a nap for sleepy drivers

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This one is of personal interest because of The Wife’s weekly commutes. Via Lifehacker, this interesting finding:

Sleepy drivers who don’t want to stop their journey have two choices: pull over and take a short nap or load up with caffeine to stay awake.

So what’s the better option? French researchers decided to find out, testing the driving performance of two dozen sleep-deprived motorists. Participants first drove a two-mile course on the highway between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., to measure their driving skill on a normal amount of sleep. On other days, they were asked to take the driving test again between 2 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. They were given either a placebo (decaffeinated coffee), regular coffee or allowed to take a 30-minute nap, according to the study, published this month in the medical journal Sleep.

A driving instructor in the car counted the number of inappropriate line crossings during each driving test. Line crossings were measured because drifting over the center line or off the road causes 65 percent of sleep-related accidents.

The decaf drinkers racked up a total of 159 line crossings while drowsy, compared to just 2 line crossings during the daytime driving test. Nappers did better, crossing lines only 84 times. But surprisingly, the coffee drinkers did the best in the sleepy driving test, crossing lines a total of 27 times.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 9:56 am

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life

Aha: why Within Your Means is moving

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Because Lifehacker posted about it.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 9:52 am

Posted in Books

Chimpanzees beat college students at memory game

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Pretty impressive. And more at Science News (including a link to another video with shorter exposure times):

At Kyoto University in Japan, students and chimps saw an array of five of the numerals 1 through 9 flash onto a computer screen for just 650 milliseconds. When the numerals simultaneously turned into white squares, the subjects had to touch the squares in numerical order. The students managed to choose the squares in the correct order around 80 percent of the time, as did Ayumu, a young chimp, says Kyoto’s Tetsuro Matsuzawa.

The researchers then shortened the viewing time to 430 ms and finally to just 210 ms, which isn’t even enough time for a person’s eye to scan across a screen. For the briefest exposures, the students got the sequence right only 40 percent of the time, but Ayumu still managed nearly 80 percent accuracy.

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Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 9:41 am

Posted in Daily life, Games, Science

Books report

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Just a little update on the books:

Within Your Means has had 81 downloads from Lulu so far, along with 676 from the blog before I published it on Lulu. 757 total, not bad. Hope it’s helping.

Cooking Compendium‘s first ranking on Lulu was 86,060. Today it’s 72,642—an advance of 13,418 places. Not bad, I’d say.

Gourmet Shaving continues to find new readers, and its current ranking is 720. Remember when we were struggling to get it under 1,000?

Just thought you’d want to know.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 9:31 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Ah, that mango-oil soap!

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Wonderful shave today, starting with the soap selection: the mango-oil soap, worked up into a lather with the Rooney Style 3 Size 2 (seems quite large these days) Super. And I used the Merkur Hefty Classic (“HD”), which had an Astra Superior Platinum blade in it. Extremely smooth and nice. The HD is very nearly as nice as the Edwin Jagger razors. 🙂

Aftershave was Boosters Island Bay Rum, for a traditional feel.

Written by Leisureguy

8 December 2007 at 9:13 am

Posted in Shaving

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