Later On

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

Archive for July 19th, 2008

Good dessert for right now: buttermilk peach ice cream

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Sounds wonderful—and looks wonderful as well.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 7:51 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Could you toss me that egg?

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Carefully.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 7:44 pm

Posted in Daily life

Thinking about cultural differences

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 4:34 pm

Posted in Daily life

Tagged with

Teach Yourself to Learn a Language

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I’ve mentioned previously P.J.T. Glendening’s book Teach Yourself to Learn a Language, and in particular mentioned his list of basic words. Here’s what he says about the essential vocabulary, from Chapter 11:

There is nothing which will better persuade you that you are actually going to learn the language than practical demonstration of this as you progress. This means that you must be able to make practical use of what you have learnt, even at an early state. This is the advantage of those systems based on the repetition of phrases. You may never get the feel of the language, and there is a limit beyond which you will not pass, using the method, but at least you are able to say “How do you do?” when you meet someone, to remark “What a pity!” when you see that this remark is appropriate, to enter a shop and say “I should like to have XYZ, please” and so on. In this context, allow me to remind you that in Chapter 2, I came out against the learning of word lists (on most occasions)—while I now suggest an exception to this, the exception which proves the rule. After learning the basic facts about the language it is useful to have a list of the most frequently recurring words in the language at your disposal before you go on to study the language in greater detail. With these words you will be able to make a large number of sentences of simple construction. Here is a serviceable first word list, which may be applied to a large number of languages.

First Word List

1. The words given in the sample survey of Catalan—the articles; the personal pronouns, the possessives, the demonstratives, the relatives; the main adverbs of time, place, manner and so on; the chief prepositions; the help verbs; the principle conjunctions.

2. Nouns. The days of the week, the months, the seasons.
The body—arm, leg, head, hair, eye, ear, nose, mouth, hand, finger, foot, shoulder, heart.
Nature—light, darkness, sun, moon, land, sea, sky, hill, mountain, river, field, tree, valley.
Animals—dog, cat, horse, fly, fish, insect, cow, sheep.
House—door, room, kitchen, chair, table, armchair, TV, radio, window, bed, cupboard, washbasin, tap, bathroom, front room.
Books, etc.—book, paper, pen, pencil, stamp, newspaper, letter, card, address.
Clothes—shoe, trousers, skirt, shirt, collar, tie, jacket, overcoat, raincoat, stocking, sock, jumper, jersey, blouse.
General—car, bus, railway, train, station, road, street, policeman, ship, boat, restaurant, bar, tea, coffee, sugar, food, drink, knife, fork, spoon, day, week, month, man, woman, boy, girl, child, son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, wife, husband, friend, garden, church, laugh, smile, cup, glass, plate, bread, cheese, meat, language.

3. Adjectives. Good, bad; cold, warm, hot; useful, useless; old, young; rich, poor; clean, dirty; sweet, sour, bitter; black, white, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown, grey; strong, weak; early, late; hard, soft; easy, difficult; nice, pleasant, unpleasant; clear; sensible, silly; large, small; tall, high, how; long, short; wide, narrow; deep; big; pretty; happy, sad, unhappy; wonderful; funny.

4. Verbs. Do, be, have; get; can, may, must; shall, will, should, would; put; cost; cut; shut, open; sleep, wake; wash, dry; walk, run, come, go, stop, ride, swim; pick; turn; see, look, say, listen, hear, speak, watch; keep, hold; count; remember, forget; tell; think; read, write; begin, start; learn, teach; eat, drink; feel; use; be used to; become; receive; give, take; enjoy, annoy, bore, amuse; cross; like, dislike, be fond of, love, hate; sit, stand; lie, lay; ask, answer; bet; beat, win lose find; wait, expect; hope; break, mend; fight; make; fly.

Remember also the numbers, both cardinal (1, 2, 3, etc.) and ordinal (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.)

It is possible to go a long way with these 400-odd basic words. Indeed, you may well slice the list down to about half its size and still include the majority of the words of most frequent usage. At this point I must mention the reason why it is best to have a text-by-text glossary rather than an end-of-the-book vocabulary (although willingly both), when you arrive at the stage of studying texts, after having made the preliminary survey of the language. The fact is that general dictionaries and vocabulary lists give you the various meanings and usages of words (and not always sensibly or even correctly, for that matter), whereas when you begin to study texts in the foreign language you want to know exactly what a specific word or expression means in its context, and this what the text glossary will tell you. For instance, the word “mechero” comes in one of the first reading passages in a certain Spanish instruction manual, and there is no glossary giving this word. The vocabulary at the end of the book omits the word, and recourse must therefore be had to the dictionary (unless the learner has been bright enough to identify what the word means from the context). Now the dictionary gives us the following information:

Mechero, m. sconce, candlestick socket; lamp-burner; gas-burner; blow-lamp.

And, indeed, the word may mean any of these things, according to the context. As you progress the better you will be able to choose for yourself which of a string of possibilities is the one required—but as a beginner you must have every assistance in getting things right, in avoiding discouraging delays and uncertainties and errors. No, the text in question should undoubtedly have given the translation “mechero—cigarette lighter”. It might, perhaps, add the word “here”, indicating that it may well mean other things in other places, although in this case there is little doubt that “lighter” is far more often used than “sconce”, and so forth.

From what has just been said, you will see that there can be no small danger in starting with a list of words in your own language and looking them up in a dictionary. There is less danger if you are aware that certain English words have several different meanings, and even less danger if you happen to know what these meanings are. Often each possibility has a different translation in the foreign language—and then again, the various foreign words are liable to behave in a similar way; that is, each one of them, or certain of them, may have a variety of meanings, just one of them coinciding with the meaning of the English word in question. In English the multiple-purpose word par excellence is “to get”. The following table will demonstrate the difficulties possibly met with in finding which word to use in Spanish, say, when “get” is used in English…

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 3:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

Help for compulsive shoppers

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There’s hope, according to this LA Times article by Melissa Healy:

In a land where citizens are implored to shop as an expression of patriotism, where little girls can attend summer camp cruising the stores of a mall, and where the average credit-card holder is $1,673 behind in payments, buying things in the United States is more than a hunt for daily provisions. It’s a national pastime, a form of therapy, a means of self-expression.

But for more than 1 in 20 Americans, shopping is something darker. A study published in the October 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry found that at some point in the lives of an estimated 5.8% of the U.S. population, shopping will become a source of shame, a cry for help, the cause of job losses and broken relationships, a road to financial ruin. They are “compulsive buyers” — troubled by intrusive impulses to shop, prone to lose track of time while doing so, plagued by post-purchase remorse, guilt and financial woes and sometimes given up on by loved ones.

Related articles in the same issue of the LA Times:

Compulsive shopping: Is it a disorder?

Unlocking motive is the key to conquering compulsive shopping

Compulsive shopping: where to turn for help

As the drumbeat of depressing economic indicators accelerates, they are a group coming out of the closet.

“I get several calls a month from people who say, ‘I don’t know what you call it, but this is out of control,’ ” says psychiatrist Timothy Fong, director of UCLA’s Impulse Control Disorders Clinic and co-director of the university’s Addiction Medicine Clinic. For the truly addicted shopper, Fong says, “it’s not lack of willpower” that makes them unable to stop shopping. “It’s an inability to control impulses and desires and behaviors.”

Mental health professionals are actively debating how to label and treat these consumers’ problematic behavior. As they do so, clinics, self-help groups and therapists specializing in the care and rehabilitation of compulsive shoppers are popping up across the country like so many specialized boutiques. They have found no shortage of clients.

J.P., a 66-year-old Los Angeles man, is one of them. For six years a member of the 12-step group Debtors Anonymous (and so, following its rules, he’s declined to identify himself by name), J.P. calls himself “a constantly struggling compulsive shopper” and “a binge person” by nature. Echoing the observations of many compulsive shoppers and those who treat them, J.P. says that what seems to trigger his impulse to spring for something is “a feeling of needing to fix yourself . . . a sense of filling a void.”

J.P. says that buying something — in his case, costly services such as workshops and courses — would make him exuberant, give him a shot of energy and a sense of purpose. But the crash, which could come hours, days or weeks later when he realized he had succumbed to a costly impulse, has always been hard. “I feel suckered. I feel incompetent in a way that I didn’t feel before.

“It is an addiction,” says J.P. “It becomes an addiction because it feels the more you do this thing, the better you’re going to be. It’s completely wrongheaded, wrong thinking.”

Programs designed to address such wrong thinking are growing more numerous and better attended. In the last five years, Stanford University and UCLA have established treatment programs for those who report out-of-control shopping. A New York City therapist, after running group programs for three years from her office, is set to launch an at-home program for those who overshop.

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 1:25 pm

Walking helps seniors

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More on walking—I’m surrounded! Kelley Collihan reports for WebMD:

A new study by researchers at the University of Georgia shows that older folks who kept up with a walking program for four months had “significant” health improvements over a group that didn’t walk.

“In the past decade, researchers have focused on the benefits of strength training in maintaining independence, but until now we didn’t have good evidence using an objective performance measure that a walking program would improve physical functioning,” researcher M. Elaine Cress, PhD says in a news release.

“Our study found that walking offers tremendous health benefits that can help older adults stay independent,” says Cress, a professor of kinesiology and a researcher in the University of Georgia Institute of Gerontology.

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Health

Tagged with ,

Use good diction when singing

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or else… (Thanks to Liz for passing this along.)

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Daily life

Communication redux

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After some reflection, I’ve posted a two-part update to the post on communication. Take a look.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Daily life

City rankings for young professionals

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Yet another ranking of cities, this time the best cities for young professionals as ranked by Forbes. At the link is the article, with many links to related articles (most expensive cities, cities with best unemployment pay, etc.), and here is the full list of 40 as a slide show.

The top five:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Minneapolis
  3. Houston
  4. New York City
  5. Boston

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 10:41 am

Posted in Daily life

Social psychology finding role in government

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Vaughan at Mind Hacks notes that social psychology is actually being used in public planning:

The Times has a brief article noting the growing influence of social psychology in government thinking and economic policy, mirroring the popular interest in a slew of new books on behavioural economics.

It’s interesting that the article lists various ways in those close to the British political establishment are increasingly bringing ideas drawn from empirical social sciences in their thinking, mirroring the murmurings about the Obama team’s interest in behavioural economics.

And, as we’ve noted here, there’s now an increasing interest, causing an ongoing controversy, about the use of social scientists in the occupying military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

We hear a great deal about interest and initiatives in these areas, but very little about outcome studies (although its possible that the military keep theirs secret) so I wonder whether the success of these approaches will depend on the maturity of the science in terms of how well it actually predicts changes in the real world.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 10:33 am

Megs, homesteading

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Megs stakes a claim

Megs stakes a claim

Caption via Kyolo, and that via this informative post in MakeUseOf.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 10:28 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Megs, Software

Much progress on gays in the military

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The US is awakening to the fact that having gays serve in the military is no more a problem than having heterosexuals serve in the military. The following is from the recent Washinton Post-ABC poll (of a random cross-section of the public, including Democrats and Republicans):

Changing public attitudes

Changing public attitudes

Under George Bush, substantial progress on this question has been made: from less than 2/3 in support to 3/4 in support.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 10:17 am

Posted in Daily life

Carbon-steel blades and rust

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Carbon-steel blades are nice and sharp—and the Treet Blue Special remains my favorite blade—but the edge wil be rusting if you don’t Take Steps. One method is simply to use a new blade for each shave—the blades are cheap, and you can shave for a month with this method and still spend less than for one Gillette Fusion disposable multi-blade cartridge.

Another, as you know from reading my book [cough, cough], is to rinse the head of the razor in 99% (or 91%) rubbing alcohol at the end of the shave: the alcohol displaces the water and then evaporates, leaving the blade dry.

And now Steve of Kafeneio has discovered a new technique, which is much simpler.

I would say, though, that those who suffer from acne or razor bumps should continue using the alcohol rinse at the end of the shave, regardless of type of blade (carbon steel or stainless). For those, the alcohol rinse is for sterilization, not to provent rust.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 10:03 am

Posted in Shaving

Communication in a committed relationship

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It’s a paradox, but for many the ease of communication falls away as a relationship grows closer and more committed. The little voice in your head cries, “Don’t screw it up!” and communication starts to become more cautious, more careful not to “start trouble.” But with the dropping off of honest and open communication, the relationship starts to feel stilted and remote, so that each person is living two lives: a superficial and pleasant life with the partner, and an internal life of questioning and dissatisfaction.

I once had the good fortune to talk to a therapist about this sort of thing, and she pointed out that being totally open and honest with your partner is what drew that person to you in the first place. You are, in fact, interesting to your partner, just as your partner is interesting to you. And that interest stems in no small part that each of you see the other as s/he is: a complex living and changing person.

She pointed out that babies and toddlers are endlessly fascinating to watch, and the reason is that they are totally open: you can see their feelings clearly, and they never dissemble, they have not learned to assume a façade. You see them make discoveries, try things out, and change daily, and it’s fascinating. So also it is in an intimate relationship that manages to live daily without walls and dissimulation. And all it requies is to discard the fear that, by exposing your true thoughts and your actual feelings, you’ll “screw it up.” You won’t. In fact, you’ll revitalize not only the relationship but also yourself: it takes a lot of energy and attention to keep up a front. It’s very relaxing just to be yourself with someone you love and trust. And it’s extremely reassuring to know that the other loves you for exactly who you are, rather than loving a false image of you that you’ve created.

I was reminded of this by a very interesting post in The Simple Dollar in which Trent talks about how he and his wife were able to recast and redefine their financial lives—and, as you’ll see, a good part of it was the decision that he would ignore any feelings he might have had that it would be better not to rock the boat, better to smooth over problems rather than face them. Instead, he deliberately—and carefully—set about exposing the truth and confiding in her.

UPDATE:

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 9:35 am

Posted in Daily life

Free backup program, today only

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Another Giveaway of the Day. Remember you have to download AND install the software today.

Document Backup is an easy-to-use program intended to automatically back up important data to your hard disk, a local area network, a CD or DVD or even to an FTP server. Compressed backups (in the zip format) save space and incremental backups save time.

Thanks to the built-in scheduler, you can stop worrying about the safety of your data. Document Backup makes backups of your data in a fully automatic mode. You can also use any other scheduler to schedule items to be backed up.

The convenient setup wizards of Document Backup make the process of creating backup copies easy even for a beginner, but advanced options are also available.

Main features:

  • Completely secure backup. Your data will be protected with the most advanced encryption methods;
  • Compressing data to the Zip format;
  • Backing up to local and network HDD, CD or DVD, FTP;
  • Automatically splitting archives to several disks if necessary;
  • Incremental backup (only data modified since the last backup will be backed up);
  • Powerful and fully customizable scheduler will backup your data completely automatically;
  • A system of backup items will allow you to flexibly customize the backup schedule;
  • Restore Data Wizard will allow you to restore only the files you select;
  • All backup operations are logged.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 8:55 am

Posted in Software

Jo Stafford, 1917-2008

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Jo Stafford was a great singer of the era of songs I most enjoy, and the comic reprise to her singing career, the stylings of Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, are wonderful of their kind. The NY Times has a very nice obituary, well worth reading.

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 8:52 am

Posted in Daily life, Jazz, Music

Hoffritz slant bar

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I chose Mama Bear’s Hydrogen Fragrance shaving soap this morning, along with the Sabini ebon-handled brush. The razor was the Hoffritz slant bar, made by Merkur, but I don’t recall the blade. The shave was effortless, typical of the slant bar, which slices nicely through the stubble. The Gentleman’s Refinery shave oil for the oil pass, and Royall Bay Rhum aftershave. Feeling very smooth and nice.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2008 at 8:41 am

Posted in Daily life

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