Later On

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

Archive for February 23rd, 2011

Homemade versions of common processed foods

with one comment

I started with the homemade pepper sauce, which I continue to make and use. I also use Sriracha and Tabasco and some few others, including a local brand, but day in and day out I mostly use my own mix.

Then I made my homemade Worcestershire sauce: totally wonderful, and I’ll not be buying that any more, but making it myself.

Now I see these homemade energy/granola bars and wonder how many readers make their own in preference to store-bought? (I currently do not eat any energy bars, homemade or store bought.)

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 4:36 pm

Great Pilates session

leave a comment »

Man, that went fast. My instructor was making “wrap-up” remarks, and I thought we still had at least half an hour to go. Time flies when you’re focused.

Now I’m off to Whole Foods: I just called the meat department and they not only have Monterey Bay sardines, they also have 3 Spanish mackerel from the East Coast. Mackerel is a fish I dearly want to try with this new method; I imagine it will work like the sardines, making an incredibly rich rice, with all those lovely veggies on top. And I do like the way red chard works.

UPDATE: Back, with .95 lbs Monterey Bay sardines (it took three) and a .95-lb Spanish mackerel, all with heads and tails, and the sardines I have to gut as well. So they’ll be much closer to half a pound once the guts, heads, tails, and spines are gone. Also more red chard and some bok choy. Yum

I figured out why I’ve gained back a couple of pounds. Obviously, it’s too early to move feta back into the diet, so that will go. The real problem, though, is Tues and Thurs: class is from 11:30 to 2:00 (nominally: by omitting some breaks we get out at 1:30), so I’ve been trying to eat lunch before class, but then in the evening I’m too hungry. So here’s the new plan for those days:

regular breakfast, then assemble a GOPM and put it into the fridge

snack just before class: an apple

after class, come home immediately and put the GOPM in the oven

I figure this means that I’ll eat lunch around 2:45, which is late, but I’ll have a clementine as soon as I get home—the one I would otherwise have as afternoon snack. If I’m eating lunch that late, no other snack needed. The GOPM will serve for both lunch and dinner.

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 3:22 pm

How I’m feeling

leave a comment »

I got an interesting note from a regular reader:

I’ve followed your weight-loss and fitness progress with both pride and envy. Interestingly, unless I’ve missed it, you haven’t commented much on how you actually feel after all this. That’s a helluva weight to lose…you must be feeling fantastic. How has it changed your daily life? I think that would be an interesting angle to talk about (if you’re comfortable with it of course).

I was thinking about this just the other day, and wrote in a letter that I seem (based on my observations rather than my feelings) to have quite a bit more energy, given the things I’m now doing: blogging, writing a book, writing 1-2 letters by hand every morning, taking Spanish, cooking quite a bit, doing 30 minutes on the Nordic Track 5 days a week (and, yes, I did my 30 minutes this morning), doing an hour of Pilates three times a week, and so on.

I tend to rely on observations of activity and behavior rather than internal feelings, but internal feelings can be quite misleading: observing what one actually does is a good check.

I certainly could not have done that before this effort: 5 minutes on the Nordic was a trial, I couldn’t have done the Pilates at all, I think, and I certainly wasn’t doing the other stuff listed except for the blogging.

But the odd thing was that we so readily adapt to the current situation that we don’t see anything out of the ordinary. I did not feel that I lacked energy before. That wasn’t the problem (as I saw it): the problem was simply that I was obese and out of shape. But so far as daily activity was concerned, I saw no problems. I had insensibly adjusted my range of activities to my comfort level, so everything felt fine and “normal.” I may have gotten out of breath walking up the hill at college, and had to stop a couple of times, but that was just how things were. So, in fact, I didn’t go to the college. Without thinking about it, it just faded out of my picture of things I could do.

And now: I feel good, everything is fine and “normal”, and it’s hard to feel the difference—probably because over the 9 months it’s taken to get here, I’ve had time to adjust and accept. Plus, of course, I still have 10 lbs to go, so I’m still working on it.

I’ve observed that students, who are learning a lot and rapidly increasing their range of knowledge, go around feeling ignorant and unready because the teaching process keeps them at the mine face, as it were, working hard to gain knowledge that they still lack. Surrounded by so much they still don’t know, they lack a sense of their progress, and I think that’s my situation.

A story on that last: when I went to graduate school, I went into mathematics. I was taking a course in abstract algebra taught by John Kemeny, a very very smart man indeed, using van der Waerden‘s Modern Algebra as the text. I had never been exposed to modern math, so this was both exciting and difficult—and this was before I had learned how to work or how to study (which is a form of work). But I plugged away, constantly feeling that I knew nothing, until I tried to explain something I had just learned to a friend (who was not studying math)—a homeomorphism of a group, as I recalled, and how that generalizes to other structures, and as I started to provide just the background, not the new thing I understood, I saw her eyes glaze over. I realized then that perhaps I had actually learned some stuff while feeling constantly ignorant and struggling.

Perhaps many repetitions of the sequence of tackling something, feeling ignorant about it but continuing to work on it, and then looking around after some weeks and realize that I really do now know quite a bit about it. Indeed, that’s how I’m approaching Spanish now: I feel extremely ignorant and awkward, but I now have faith that if I continue to work and learn, in a few months I’ll surprise myself by how much I know.

Getting fit is a lot like that: Because you’re challenging yourself, you feel constantly on the verge of failure and your feelings don’t really reflect your accomplishments. That’s where behavioral observations and objective measures help.

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Fitness

Hello! OpenOffice at last

with 5 comments

I’ve always been intrigued by OpenOffice, but I’ve also always already MS Office—and of course Open Office does not include anything like OneNote.

But now I’m on a Mac, and I’m wanting a good word processor, spreadsheet, and the like. And I’m not inclined to go with MS Office on the Mac—don’t know why, but I have negative impressions.

But I just now thought:, a free, open-source, platform independent solution. I’m downloading it now. 🙂

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 11:47 am

Posted in Daily life, Software

Slant-bar smoothness

with 2 comments

After exchanging some emails with a reader, I decided to use the slant bar for regular shaves, not only for cutting stubble from two or more days. So this morning a regular shave. I wanted to try my Floris Elite, from several years ago, in comparison with the Floris No 89 that I bought recently. So far as I can tell, the two soaps work the same. And that Gerson brush is the berries. The Wife doesn’t quite remember the price—only that it ended in a “5”. She thinks it might have been €45 or possibly €85. I would guess that it’s €45: it’s a wonderful brush, with a very nice knot indeed, but it’s not silvertip and the handle, though I like it a lot, is not hand-turned. It is, however, highly polished and quite distinctive.

I can’t find Gerson shaving equipment on the Web, but if you’re in France, you might want to keep your eye open for their stuff.

It created a fine lather, I got three smooth, trouble-free passes from the Hoffritz Slant Bar (mine has been rhodium plated) holding a Swedish Gillette blade of several shaves. A splash of Pashana and I am ready to dig into various projects.

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 11:05 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

Israel and US foreign policy

leave a comment »

Based on the US veto of a completely reasonable UN resolution condemning the illegal settlements that Israel continues to support, it seems evident that US foreign policy is dictated by Israel. The vote was against the best interests of the US (though I’m sure it saved Obama a lot of trouble with the GOP, and so far as I can tell, he will do just about anything to try to placate them), and it served to isolate the US further from its allies and the international community. It also seems to underscore that the US will support Israel in anything it does, however illegal and morally indefensible the action may be.

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 7:53 am

Diplomatic immunity: An assassin’s best friend?

leave a comment »

This story in the NY Times raises some intriguing questions, which the article totally fails to address. But we must remember what we’ve learned about Bill Keller’s editorship of the Times: the paper now routinely seeks government approval for its stories and prints only what the government wants—at least until other papers break the stories, whereupon it turns out the NY Times had the facts all long but had either not published them at all, or had published only a cover story as requested by the government.

In other words, the NY Times has decided to follow the Pravda path, defining “the news that’s fit to print” as “the news report the government wants you to believe.” And Keller is quite open about this. I think the poor guy is so removed from journalism that he thinks the paper is being a “good citizen” by allowing the government to control its reportage.

But in the story about the shooter in Pakistan, the thing won’t hold together.

First, diplomatic immunity is to protect our diplomats and their staff from arbitrary actions of the host government, taken under coverage of law. It was never intended to be a “00” license to kill citizens of the host government with impunity. Indeed, if that was its purpose, governments would stop giving diplomatic immunity. To claim that diplomatic immunity allows our governmental assassins to walk the streets, gunning down citizens in a foreign country with no fear of repercussions, is (to my mind) insane. I don’t think we in this country would take kindly to someone gunning down a couple of Americans in the street and then claiming diplomatic immunity, especially if he represented a government that routinely killed innocent civilians in the country through drone-fired missiles.

Second, President Obama seems to want cover under an international treaty. But the US government has ignored treaties whenever it wants—not just with Native Americans, but more recently the Geneva Convention and the Convention Against Torture, and to this day President Obama refuses to heed the requirements of the Convention Against Torture, which requires him to follow the advice he so freely handed to Indonesia: that it is the responsibility of the government in power to investigate credible allegations of criminal behavior that violates the laws of the land. For Indonesia, President Obama (and Secretary Clinton) thought it very important to investigate past crimes and bring to justice those responsible. For the US, the same President believes that we should not obey the requirements of the law, but rather allow the guilty to go free and uninvestigated.

So I do not believe Obama has a leg to stand on when he appeals to treaties. His own actions completely belie his words, and I think increase the revulsion people are starting to feel about the actions of the US government.

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 7:43 am

Roasting a whole fish

with 3 comments

A cleaned whole fish, of course: for one thing you need the cavity for the fragrant things to be roasted with the fish. And it’s dead easy: 450ÂşF oven, 15 minutes, and Bob’s your uncle. I particularly enjoyed roast bluefish, which we don’t get out here. I still recall one delicious (and enormous) bluefish that we roasted one of the times I lived in Annapolis, MD. After a fine meal, we removed the rest of the meat from the bones and made a splendid fish salad. A salad from a cooked fresh fish puts salads from canned fish in the shade and is bested only by a salad from raw fish: ceviche (link goes to a blog devoted to ceviche recipes).

The NY Times has a short video, “How to Roast a Whole Fish,” that shows how totally simple and easy it is. [UPDATE: Video here, thanks to a kind commenter.] Basics:

Brush fish with oil, inside and out
Salt and pepper generously, inside and out
Fill cavity with flavorings—for example, one of these

  • lemon, garlic, rosemary
  • chipotle, jalapeño, lime, cumin
  • scallions, ginger, soy sauce, dark sesame oil

And best of all, fishmongers sell the whole fish much more cheaply than the fillets, even though the whole fish is more flavorful when cooked.

Written by Leisureguy

23 February 2011 at 7:21 am

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

%d bloggers like this: