Later On

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

Archive for November 4th, 2008

Obama wins

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I’m so happy. I believe that this is a great day for the US, and I think in time even the GOP will recognize that. And I’m very pleased to see Democrats pick up the Senate seats (particularly those of Sununu and Dole—and Coleman, if we get the breaks). A very good day.

And now I’m going to bed.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 9:15 pm

Posted in Election

The Golden Age of American Song

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I just watched (again) Woody Allen’s Radio Days, and it has many examples of just the sort of thing I was talking about.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 3:05 pm

Endocrinologist visit

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Good: I’ve lost 5 lbs. Bad: my HbA1c is up to 6.1%. Still not bad, but moving in the wrong direction. Remedy: watch what I eat, resume walking.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 11:36 am

Posted in Daily life

Learning to live with Attention Deficit Disorder

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Interesting article on tactics for those who have some degree of ADD. From the article:

… Her family eventually got help from a group of psychologists who specialize in attention deficit coaching.

“I am a believer in doing absolutely everything you can to get your brain to function properly,” says Kathleen Nadeau, a clinical psychologist. “We are very reactive to the environment, so we need to be careful of the environment we put ourselves in.”

Take homework, for example: Organizing is everything. Clinical psychologist Kara Goobic explains that you can’t just preach about the importance of organization — you have to show kids how to do it.

“With Emily, what I worked on a lot was planning for homework assignments,” Goobic says. She taught Emily how to handle a syllabus by putting deadlines for papers on her calendar, and by helping her break big projects down into smaller chunks.

Lots of study skills may seem simple and intuitive to people who don’t have ADD, says Goobic. For example, having a binder for each subject and clearing your desk of clutter is “just a natural tendency that most of us have. But for someone with ADD, it may not be an automatic thought,” she says.

The freedom of campus life is incredibly appealing to most college-aged students. But without the support of home, it can turn out to be pretty stressful. And stress intensifies the decision-making problems that many children with ADD have.

“The more stressed and anxious we are, the more we are thinking with our emotional brain instead of our rational brain,” Nadeau says.

To pre-empt the stress, Nadeau says, she helps her college-bound students come up with plans for exercise, eating well and setting a realistic class schedule.

For instance, …

Continue reading. See also “10 Tips for College Students with Disabilities.”

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 9:10 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Election-Day catblogging

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Ms. Megs

Ms. Megs

Ms. Megs, looking wildly happy. (She has pretty much the same expression at all times.)

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 8:54 am

Posted in Cats, Daily life, Megs

Richard Stallman on OLPC

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Richard Stallman explains why he’s backed away from One Laptop Per Child:

The One Laptop Per Child project, launched by MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte in 2003, was supposed to lead millions of children around the world to information technology and freedom. The plans aimed for low cost, enabling many children to use the machines, and free software, so they would have freedom while using them. I thought it was a good idea; I even planned to use one myself when I found in the OLPC’s promise of free software a way to escape the proprietary startup programs that all commercial laptops used.

But just as I was switching to an OLPC, the project backed away from its commitment to freedom and allowed the machine to become a platform for running Windows, a non-free operating system.

What makes this issue so important, and OLPC’s retreat from free software so unfortunate, is that the “free” in free software refers to freedom of knowledge and action, not to price. A program (whatever job it does) is free software if you, the user, have the four essential freedoms:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 8:39 am

This sounds sinfully delicious

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Luisa Weiss convinced me:

The recipe comes from Chez Panisse Vegetables and is a study in the art of flavor-building. Onions are stewed with bay leaves and thyme and garlic. Wine is added and reduced, then in goes chicken stock, which simmers for a while. Good, stale-ish bread is briefly fried until golden in olive oil (or, if you happen to have duck fat lying around, you can use that, too) and two pounds of butternut squash are peeled and sliced.

Then the fun stuff begins: the layering. In goes a layer of fried bread slices, several ladlefuls of herb-scented broth and a purpureal tangle of onions. Then you arrange the mass of butternut squash slices on top of the bread and ladle in more broth and onions. The rest of the fried bread makes the top layer, along with, yes, more broth and onions and finally, you grate over it all a flurry of grated cheese.

What happens in the oven is very neat: the bread swells with the liquid and rises, so that the panade goes from being a rather dense, heavy thing to a light and puffy wonder. The flavors, already complex, concentrate and the cheese melts and bubbles into a wondrously tasty cap. It’s hard to figure out whether you should eat panade with a fork or a spoon – or how to decide what you like more, the broth or the silky bread or the sweet squash or the cheesy top. Oh, who am I kidding, all of it.

Recipe at the link above.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 8:28 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Octopus

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They’re good at camouflage, are they not?

Thanks to Liz, for pointing this out.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 8:07 am

Posted in Daily life

Another source lead in your drinking water

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Janet Raloff continues her series of articles on how you may be getting rather more lead in your diet than is good for you. (Optimal amount: zero.) The most recent article begins:

Aerators cap the ends of most drinking-water faucets. In some cases, they’re used to conserve water by reducing a faucet’s maximum flow rate; in others their primary function is to concentrate the flow of water so that it delivers more pressure and cleaning power. But these little metal cages also collect debris. Including lead. And unless you’re regularly cleaning out those aerators, you might be developing a toxic mini gravel field through which your drinking water must pass before reaching your glass or coffee pot.

Indeed, one lead poisoning case in North Carolina involved a child who didn’t drink the tap water (his mom wouldn’t let him, after learning of his elevated lead status). This little guy accumulated increasing quantities of lead largely from pasta — a favorite food. It was boiled in water that had passed through a faucet aerator loaded with tiny chunks of the heavy metal, explains Marc Edwards.

I was among a handful of reporters who were introduced to some new elements of lead toxicity in home drinking water, last month, while attending the Society of Environmental Journalists annual meeting. Seven of us got a briefing from Edwards at his Virginia Tech lab in Blacksburg. It was there I heard of the pasta anecdote.

The following week, I phoned Edwards for clarification on the pasta connection. As he explained it, …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 8:05 am

Posted in Daily life, Health, Science

The poetry of American song

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I’ve always felt that the level of popular music suffered with the coming of the “complete artist” idea: that one person should write the lyrics, compose the music, play the instrument, and sing the song. While some can do all those things well, the highest levels seem to be when you combine the contributions from an exceptionally gifted and experienced team: a lyricist, a composer, musicians, and a singer, each devoting all efforts toward mastery of one particular aspect. Frank Sinatra could focus on singing, George Gershwin on composing, Ira Gershwin on writing lyrics, and the musicians of the orchestra or combo on mastering their own particular instruments.

At any rate, take a look at Corby Kummer’s review of Wilfred Sheed’s book, The House That George Built: With a Little Help from Irving, Cole, and a Crew of about Fifty.

Lyricists, not baseball players, were my heroes growing up, and as a young man I found a group of writers — notably including my college mentor, William K. Zinsser, and Wilfrid Sheed — who idolized both. They would fall easily into evenings around a piano, challenging each other to remember second verses and tricky bridges, and sometimes I got to sing along. Zinsser wrote a tribute to popular songwriters, Easy to Remember, and the great editor Robert Gottlieb (another early hero) compiled a largely proseless list of his favorite lyrics with the scholar Robert Kimball, Reading Lyrics; last year Sheed published The House That George Built (issued this year in paperback), a collection of biographical essays about many of the great songwriters. These books are all in their way autobiographies, because the subject is so closely intertwined with the writer’s consciousness.

I may never write or even speak a sentence without some debt to the songwriters who shaped my cadences as strongly as my parents did, but Sheed’s own boyhood and coming-of-age, in England and the United States, were actually set to the songs he heard on the radio and on records, when those lyrics were literally in the air. So this book is as close as he is likely to come to a full-bore memoir

The House That George Built lays out one idea: that the gregarious and generous George Gershwin — himself the successor to a line of distinctly American songwriters including Stephen Foster, George M. Cohan, and Irving Berlin — spun forth the group of writers who defined the form and brought it to its greatest peak. But after relatively disciplined essays on Berlin and Gershwin, the book becomes a fairly shaggy series of chapters on songwriters Sheed likes, some of them to his mind too-little recognized (Harry Warren, Richard Whiting, and others both supported and swallowed by Hollywood), some of them a bit too revered if undeniably great (Jerome Kern and Harold Arlen).

The conversations with himself — about what makes a song pass the “automatic memorization test,” or why it’s easy to think Johnny Mercer wrote ur-American songs he didn’t (he “could have won an open casting call for the part of himself”) — and with many of the songwriters he met over the years make for delightful eavesdropping, and stimulate much of the jazzy, irresistibly stylish writing that has always made Sheed one of our most readable critics and journalists. This isn’t an indispensable history or scholarly work, something it doesn’t set out to be. But it is an indispensable book about loving songs — and one that brings alive what too many people think of as a dead language.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 8:01 am

Posted in Art, Books, Daily life, Music

Mama Bear’s Sandalwood Vanilla

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Mama Bear’s Sandalwood Vanilla made a wonderfully fragrant thick lather with the Plisson Chinese Gray brush that The Wife brought me from Paris, France. And Merkur HD with whatever blade it carried performed flawlessly: a perfectly smooth face after three passes. The finish with TOBS Sandalwood aftershave was just right. A good start to a big day.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2008 at 7:15 am

Posted in Shaving

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