Later On

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

Archive for September 28th, 2011

What I do on my days off

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A commenter asked how I structure my day. It varies, of course, but in general:

Arise early (around 5:00 a.m. usually) and spend some time browsing the Web. First thing I do now is check Wicked_Edge, then review mail, look at newspapers. I play Go on, so I usually have moves to make.

After a while, I set up and photograph the morning shave, weigh (177.0 lbs this morning), shower, shave, and dress.

I then eat breakfast and blog a bit, then set the computer aside and write a letter. I try to write a letter each day to friends or family: using up stationery, staying in touch, and enjoying my pens and paper and writing.

That, with perhaps some reading, gets me to lunch, which is leftovers or I make a new pot of grub. (I’m still astonished that I drifted into vegetarianism: not a conscious decision, but I like to give my unconscious free rein when it’s going in the right direction.)

After lunch two days a week I have a Pilates session. Right now I’m going out on my bicycle at some point every day. But in general the afternoons are devoted to reading and writing. Dinner is more grub, and in the evenings I read or watch movies.

Not an onerous schedule. And it’s not one that requires a lot of willpower. First, I try to structure things to place as little demand on my willpower as possible (for example, you will search my apartment in vain for things like chocolate, croutons, cheese, and other foods that are too tempting for me to keep. Ice cream, too—I’ve been off that so long that I didn’t even think of it; and I try to convert things that I must do into things that are so enjoyable I am drawn to them: cf. shaving, meal planning (the template made an enormous positive difference in quality of meals and ease of preparation), etc.).

Also, you’ll notice that I spend my time doing things in which I’m interested. That helps a lot.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2011 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Daily life

B12 shortage linked to cognitive problems

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Interesting article in Science News by Janet Raloff:

Not getting enough vitamin B12 may take a serious toll on the brain. Two new studies of the elderly link impairments of memory and reasoning with an indirect measure of vitamin B12 deficiency. Worse, brain scans reveal that those with signs of insufficient B12 are more likely to have shrinkage of brain tissue, vascular damage and patches of dead brain cells than are people with higher levels of the vitamin.

A third, ongoing study is recording neural changes — a slowing in the electrical signals conveying visual information — among people with B12 deficiency.

Conducted in seniors, mostly in their mid-70s to upper 80s (including a large group in Chicago), all three studies observed adverse changes even in people whose B12 levels in blood fall within the ostensibly normal, healthy range. While blood levels of B12 might have been normal, however, two biochemical markers of B12 deficiency often were not: Except in the visual study, brain problems largely correlated with rising blood concentrations of homocysteine and methylmalonic acid, or MMA, which accumulate in blood when cells of the body receive too little B12.

“The message of this Chicago study is watch your B12. It’s important for the brain,” says David Smith of the University of Oxford in England, whose team has begun investigating whether vitamin supplementation can slow cognitive decline in the elderly.

The new findings point to the apparent importance of brain changes in the absence of overt disease, says hematologist Ralph Carmel of New York Methodist Hospital, who was not involved in any of the new studies. The new data also argue against the common practice of relying exclusively on blood B12 levels to identify deficiency, he says.

In 2009, scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago reported results from 516 randomly selected seniors showing that cognitive performance declined faster over a six-year period among those with elevated MMA. All had been taking part in an ongoing study of more than 6,100 men and women begun in 1993. One-third of the seniors, who were tested and surveyed about nutrition every three years, fell into this high MMA category, says Rush nutritionist Christine Tangney.

Now, in the September 27 Neurology, the same researchers report that . . .

Continue reading. Top 10 foods for B12 (and lots more info at the link—this is one link you should click; for example, it notes, “Metformin – often used for type II diabetes, may interfere with vitmain B12 absorption in certain people.”):

#1: Clams, Oysters, and Mussels
#2: Liver
#3: Caviar (Fish Eggs)
#4: Octopus
#5: Fish
#6: Crab and Lobster
#7: Beef
#8: Lamb (Mutton)
#9: Cheese
#10: Eggs

UPDATE: Just had a couple of ounces of whitefish caviar and cooked and ate a pound of mussels (the weight mostly shell, of course). I also got some clams. So far the mussels are the best bet: not that expensive and easy to cook. That’ll be a weekly dish, and of course I already eat an egg a day. Next time I have sushi, I’ll have the tako (octopus) sashimi. Maybe tomorrow. Want to pump up the B12…

UPDATE 2: The clams were quite tasty. They say not to eat one that doesn’t open when steamed—well, duh! What do they think, you’ll chomp down on a crunchy treat? Or swallow it like a bolus? One in fact did not open, and I discarded it. The rest were quite tasty and way more flavorful than the mussels, which were cheaper… but the clams are higher in B12.

Decisions, decisions. But this offers some excellent variety and, being past 50, I suspect it does no harm to make a weekly treat of a lobster tail or oyster stew or the like. Why not?

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2011 at 1:11 pm

Israel and Palestine

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I notice that Israel is charging ahead with its illegal settlements. Nothing will stop them, apparently. Israel knows that it can get its client state, the US government, to support it in all its actions. The US did oppose Palestine’s bid for statehood; presumably that opposition was due to instructions from Israel.

Here’s an intriguing article in The New Republic, pointed out by James Fallows. It’s by John Judis and it begins:

The Obama administration, after failing to head off a Palestinian request to the Security Council for United Nations membership, is prepared to use its veto against it. In an undistinguished address to the General Assembly on Wednesday, President Barack Obama advised the Palestinians to bypass the UN and to confine their campaign for statehood to negotiations with Israel. Obama’s position would have made sense if the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu had made generous offers at the negotiating table that the Palestinians have been spurning, but the Netanyahu government has not; and there is little likelihood, in the absence of a dramatic change of heart, that it will do so. By threatening a veto, Obama appeared to contradict his past support for Palestinian self-determination.

Since 1919, the United States has favored in principle, if not always in practice, the national self-determination of peoples. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush applied it to the Palestinians’ demand for a state of their own; and Obama has done so repeatedly. Given the breakdown in negotiations between the Israeli and Palestinians, and the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, the U.S. could have reaffirmed its support for Palestinian self-determination by supporting Palestinian membership in the UNor at the least, an orderly and imminent transition toward membershipThat may not have been politically expedient, but it would have been politically just.

Moreover, it would have followed an important historical precedent. Behind Obama’s current stance lurks an unpleasant irony. In 1947, the United States faced a very similar situation in the UN and took exactly the opposite position—to the benefit of Palestine’s Jewish population. After World War I, the British had maneuvered the new League of Nations into granting them a mandate to rule Palestine, but in February 1947, after having failed to get the Jews and the Arabs to agree on a future state, the British threw the question of Palestine into the hands of the newly established United Nations. In May of that year, the General Assembly established a committee to make recommendations on resolving the conflict.

At the UN, the Arabs insisted, as they had in talks with the British, on a unitary Arab majority state, but officials from the Jewish Agency, representing Palestine’s Jews, argued for a partitioned Palestine. They looked to the United States for support, but the Truman administration was initially unwilling to give it. Within the Truman administration, some White House officials backed partition, but influential State Department and Pentagon officials held out the hope of bringing the Jews and Arabs together within a federation. In September of 1947, Truman decided to back the Zionist demand for a state in part of Palestine, and American representatives were able to win support within the committee and the General Assembly for a plan that within three years would have created two states and an internationalized Jerusalem. That didn’t establish at once a Jewish majority state, but was a very important step toward doing so.

The U.S. did, I believe, the right thing. Perhaps in 1919, there was not as strong a moral case for a Jewish-controlled state in a land inhabited primarily—about 90 percent—by Arab Muslims and Christians. (A case could be made for a homeland for the persecuted from Russia’s Pale of Settlement, but not necessarily for a state, and certainly not, as Zionists of the time advocated, a state that encompassed what would be Palestine and Jordan.) But the Nazi-led genocide in Central Europe that began in the 1930s and the restrictions that Western Europe, the United States, and the British Commonwealth nations placed on Jewish immigration made Palestine the only recourse for Europe’s Jews. By the end of World War II, there was a geographical and economic basis for a divided Palestine. Jews made up about 30 percent of the population and were concentrated in Jerusalem and on the coast. The Jews, with the Arabs opposed to negotiations and to Jewish immigration into Palestine, urged the UN to agree to partition, and the United States, after some hesitation, supported them.

Now the situation is reversed. After the 1967 war, Israel annexed Jerusalem, took control over the West Bank and Gaza, and began establishing settlements there in violation of the Geneva rules of war and in defiance of UN resolutions. Whatever their original purpose—and some of the earliest settlements had a rationale coming out of 1967 war—the settlements have evolved into an attempt by the Israelis to colonize land that is not theirs, to create incontrovertible facts on the ground that no treaty can contradict. There are now about 500,000 Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In 1993, the PLO, which the UN acknowledges as the sole representative of the Palestinian people, recognized the existence of Israel, and since then negotiations have taken place fitfully, with both sides stalling, equivocating, and sending mixed signals. Certainly, in retrospect, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2011 at 1:08 pm

Saint Charles Shave Bulgarian Lavender

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Today’s shave has a Bulgarian Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia) theme. I’m not sure exactly the difference between Bulgarian and English Lavender, but I did learn that there are three genera of lavender.

The Vie-Long boar+white horsehair brush did a very fine job. Since I seem fixated on brush capacity, I will note that it held plenty of lather for three passes, with enough left over for a few more passes. This brush is coming along nicely. With some vigorous loading and working the brush on the soap, holding the tub on its side, I did get a Creamy Lather with no problem.

Three smooth passes with the iKon OSS holding a previously used Shark Chrome blade, a splash of Saint Charles Shave Bulgarian Lavender aftershave, and I’m feeling good.

Note that iKon is coming out with another dual-personality razor this winter.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 September 2011 at 9:11 am

Posted in Shaving

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