Later On

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

Archive for July 4th, 2011

Quotidian report & luxurious meal (to me)

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The Pilates session today went quite well. Surprisingly (to me) often, I could make the appropriate correction when it was pointed out, and in a couple of instances could sense the difference from making a small adjustment of angle in posture. And we did a lot of work—some of the exercises become much harder when you do them right (as opposed to, say, weightlifting: easier when done right, harder when done wrong).

The result was that I came home, tilted back in the chair, and fell into a profound (and restorative) slumber for an hour.

Yesterday I went a little overboard with the yogurt and the olive oil in the tomato-watermelon salad, so today I’ve been scrupulous. Standard breakfast, one plum plus one apricot for each snack, and a green salad for lunch with tuna. Coming in to make dinner, I was definitely peckish, the no-bites rule in full effect. And I didn’t want any more added oil. So, time for food improv. I started adding to my two-quart sauté pan:

1/4 large sweet onion, chopped
6-8 large cloves garlic, chopped finely (but larger than minced)
1/2 small can tomato paste (opened to show Terry the Rösle can opener in action)
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
2 small yellow zucchini, diced
1 small Italian eggplant, diced
3-4 oz boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into chunks
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped

At this point I added more water, mixed the above, and started looking around for more to add. Some discoveries were made in a search for mushrooms, which I unfortunately did not have.

~2 Tbsp homemade pepper sauce
multiple lashings of freshly ground pepper
~1-2 Tbsp Mexican oregano, crushed
2 Tbsp capers
4 leaves red chard, with stalks, chopped
5-6 anchovies packed in a jar, chopped (for umami, obviously)
~10-12 pitted Saracena olives, drained and chopped
~3/4 c grape olives, whole (last-minute discovery and addition)

I stirred that up and decided that it was too thick for my first thought, which was to add some cut pasta to cook in the sauce. So instead I got out my little 1-qt saucepan and made 1/2 cup converted rice (low glycemic index), which is two servings: eat half for dinner tonight, let the rest dry a bit for stir-fry tomorrow.

After 20 minutes the rice was done, and I turned off the burner let the pan sit covered for 10 minutes more. (Hunger is the best sauce, so the delay has gastronomic goals.)

A serving spoon of rice into a bowl, fill with the sauce, and the thought of shaved Parmesan struck me—but I have none. OTOH, I do have Pt. Reyes Blue leftover from the tomato-watermelon salad, and I thought, “Blue, gorgonzola, Parmesan, what’s the diff?” and crumbled some on top.

OMG it’s good. Incredibly rich tasting—a combination of the tomato paste, red wine, anchovies, Pt. Reyes Blue, and all the rest. I added no salt at all, and it didn’t seem to need any. I felt I was dining high on the hog tonight.

It makes a tremendous amount, as well: two large meals, at least. Yet in theory that’s food for one meal.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2011 at 7:24 pm

Stipula Optima

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The Stipula Optima—or at least the Stipula Optima I’m using at the moment—is certainly among the first rank of fountain pens for daily use. Piston fill with a visible ink reservoir, and if you run out of ink, you can screw the piston all the way down and that squeezes enough ink forward to write another few paragraphs. Extremely nice point and excellent flow: not too wet, not too dry.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2011 at 3:55 pm

Posted in Fountain pens

Lamb-burger recipe

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This recipe sounds very tasty. Ingredients:

2 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. minced yellow onion
12 oz. ground lamb
4 oz. ground pork
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. each finely chopped parsley, mint, and dill
1 tsp. dried Greek oregano
1⁄2 tsp. ground coriander
1⁄2 tsp. ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1⁄3 cup crumbled feta cheese
10 leaves baby arugula
8 black olives in oil, drained, pitted, and roughly chopped
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and roughly chopped
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 hamburger buns, toasted

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2011 at 11:46 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Bradley Manning’s motives

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Extremely interesting column that gives insights into Manning’s likely motives.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2011 at 11:08 am

Hormel and its employees

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I blogged earlier about my distaste for a corporate policy of hiring only those persons who are currently employed: “No unemployed need apply.” That policy seemed gratuitously vicious to me, but I just had an insight into a reason why the policy is now so popular.

Recall that businesses do not like periods of low unemployment. Lower unemployment means higher labor costs (supply/demand) and also makes it easy for employees to leave for another, better job—making it necessary for businesses to try to make their work environments more attractive, which (to a business) is a distraction. Better to have high unemployment (as now) so that workers will cling to their jobs and will put up with much more mistreatment (and lower wages) before they will quit.

So one can see that if companies can communicate to workers that they will not even consider hiring someone who is currently unemployed, it makes workers much more frightened of losing their jobs—if they are out of work, they will find it even harder to find a new job—and thus more easily cowed.

Businesses NEVER want empowered workers. That’s why businesses, ably assisted by the GOP, are systematically destroying unions. And they also water down labor laws. They will do ANYTHING to ensure that workers are powerless. That’s the way they like it: powerless workers are more easily exploited to increase profits. If you exploit them to the point they begin killing themselves, you can string netting over stairwells, as the Taiwanese company did, to make suicide more difficult. But keep them powerless at all costs.

And here’s how it works out in one case, in a Mother Jones article by Ted Genoway:

ON THE CUT-AND-KILL floor of Quality Pork Processors Inc. in Austin, Minnesota, the wind always blows. From the open doors at the docks where drivers unload massive trailers of screeching pigs, through to the “warm room” where the hogs are butchered, to the plastic-draped breezeway where the parts are handed over to Hormel for packaging, the air gusts and swirls, whistling through the plant like the current in a canyon. In the first week of December 2006, Matthew Garcia felt feverish and chilled on the blustery production floor. He fought stabbing back pains and nausea, but he figured it was just the flu—and he was determined to tough it out.

Garcia had gotten on at QPP only 12 weeks before and had been stuck with one of the worst spots on the line: running a device known simply as the “brain machine”—the last stop on aconveyor line snaking down the middle of a J-shaped bench [DC] called the “head table.” Every hour, more than 1,300 severed pork heads go sliding along the belt. Workers slice off the ears, clip the snouts, chisel the cheek meat.

They scoop out the eyes, carve out the tongue, and scrape the palate meat from the roofs of mouths. Because, famously, all parts of a pig are edible (“everything but the squeal,” wisdom goes), nothing is wasted. A woman next to Garcia would carve meat off the back of each head before letting the denuded skull slide down the conveyor and through an opening in a plexiglass shield.

On the other side, Garcia inserted the metal nozzle of a 90-pounds-per-square-inch compressed-air hose and blasted the pigs’ brains into a pink slurry. One head every three seconds. A high-pressure burst, a fine rosy mist, and the slosh of brains slipping through a drain hole into a catch bucket. (Some workers say the goo looked like Pepto-Bismol; others describe it as more like a lumpy strawberry milkshake.) When the 10-pound barrel was filled, another worker would come to take the brains for shipping to Asia, where they are used as a thickener in stir-fry. Most days that fall, production was so fast that the air never cleared between blasts, and the mist would slick workers at the head table in a grisly mix of brains and blood and grease.

Tasks at the head table are literally numbing. The steady hum of the automatic Whizard knives gives many workers carpal tunnel syndrome. And all you have to do is wait in the parking lot at shift change to see the shambling gait that comes from standing in one spot all day on the line. For eight hours, Garcia stood, slipping heads onto the brain machine’s nozzle, pouring the glop into the drain, then dropping the empty skulls down a chute.

And then, as the global economy hit the skids and demand for cheap meat skyrocketed, QPP pushed for more and more overtime. By early December, Garcia would return home spent, his back and head throbbing. But this was more than ordinary exhaustion or some winter virus. On December 11, Garcia awoke to find . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2011 at 11:02 am

Posted in Business, Food, Health, Medical

Shave oil experiment continues

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This time I remember to use the pre-shave oil through the simple physical reminder of putting the little bottle of oil on top of the soap as I left the brush to soak while I showered.

The oil in this case is Shave Secret, and once again I could detect no benefit. I do confess that attempting to, in effect, waterproof my whiskers before applying lather does seem counter-productive to me, but in any event I could not tell that the oil was of any help at all.

I got a good lather from my new Queen Charlotte soap, Celestial Woods, which has a refreshing fragrance. The Vie-Long boar + white horsehair brush performed well, though the lather didn’t quite sustain itself to the third pass so I had to revisit the soap with the brush. I blamed this on the pre-shave oil, though it could be innocent. I guess I’m just suspicious.

Three passes with the OSS, though I swapped out the Shark Chrome blade after the first pass for a new one: the old blade seems to have lost its zing, but then I got 9-10 shaves from it.

After the third pass, I decided to try Shave Secret in an Oil Pass: apply a little oil to your rinsed beard area (I use my left hand since I must hold the razor in my right) and do an ATG polishing pass. That worked quite well indeed.

A splash of TOBS Sandalwood (on the “woods” theme), and I was ready for a holiday.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2011 at 10:20 am

Posted in Shaving

American meat as cause of diabetes

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Fascinating article in Mother Jones by Tom Philpott. Full disclosure: I used to eat a lot of meat, and I did get type 2 diabetes, so the article seems particularly interesting to me. In fact, I commented just recently that I now rarely visit the meat counter—it formerly was a regular stop when I went to the store—and when I do, I walk away with a 4-oz package (generally a lamb chop) or a boneless, skinless, chicken breast that makes 6 or so meals. In the old days, I would put 4 or 5 packages of around 12 ounces each into the shopping cart. (No wonder I was obese: the shopping cart is just the first station on the route to my stomach.)

The article begins:

The United States has one of the highest diabetes rates in the developed world—and the malady is spreading faster here than it is in most other rich nations, a recent Lancet study (registration required) found.

I’ve always associated our diabetes problem with the steady rise in sweetener consumption since the early ’80s, triggered by the gusher of cheap high-fructose corn syrup that opened up at that time. But another culprit may be contributing, too: exposure to certain pesticides and other toxic chemicals. A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Diabetes Care found a strong link between diabetes onset and blood levels of a group of harsh industrial chemicals charmingly known as “persistent organic pollutants” (POPs), most of which have been banned in the United States for years but still end up in our food (hence the “persistent” bit—they degrade very slowly).

The ones with the largest effect were PCBs, a class of highly toxic chemicals widely used as industrial coolants before being banished in 1979. Interestingly, the main US maker of PCBs, Monsanto, apparently knew about and tried to cover up their health-ruining effects long before the ban went into place. Organochlorine pesticides, another once-ubiquitous, now largely banned chemical group, also showed a significant influence on diabetes rates.

The researchers identified a group of 725 diabetes-free elderly Swedes and tracked them for five years, studying the level of POPs in their blood. Thirty-six of them ended up contracting Type 2 (non-hereditary) diabetes—and the ones who did had significantly higher POP levels than the ones who didn’t. The researchers stress that the study’s sample size is small, but their findings build on other recent data suggesting a POP/diabetes connection. Evidence for such a link is “piling up,” David Carpenter, head of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, told Reuters. . .

Continue reading. Monsanto’s efforts to continue selling a product that destroyed the health of American’s is, unfortunately, a typical and logical consequence of the fact that corporations always (and must) put profits as the primary objective—and the current corporate takeover of American government.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 July 2011 at 6:10 am

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