Later On

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

Archive for February 12th, 2012

Thinking up food in the chili line

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For some reason, I got to thinking about things on hand and what to make, and I thought of blending (with my VeggiChop) a can of chipotles in adobo, and use some of that to make chili. So I took pen in hand and wrote:

Cook 1/2 c black rice in 1 c water for 30 minutes.

Prepare the following:

10 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
4 large shallots, chopped (have on hand)
8 oz tempeh, cut in little slabs
2 handfuls chopped celery (gotta use it up, and it makes things tasty)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 small can chipotles in adobo, blended
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
4 tomatillos, chopped (after husk removed)
1 bunch spinach, washed and chopped

With that prepared, take 4-qt sauté pan over medium heat

1.5 Tbsp EVOO

Let garlic and onions sweat in the olive oil. Add:

1 Tbsp Mexican oregano
1 Tbsp chili powder or powdered ancho chilis or both
green bell pepper

And continue cooking for a while. Then add:

1 Tbsp blended chipotles
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 Tbsp high-fat cocoa powder
1 Tbsp liquid smoke
black beans
black rice

Bring to simmer, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Serve topped with avocado slices.

That’s the basic idea. I’ll probably add some red quinoa I need to use up—maybe 1/3 cup—so I’ll toss that in. Will probably take two cans of tomatoes, especially if I’m using Rotel tomatoes, which come in smaller cans.

I think I’ll make that for dinner. No leafy greens, though. But I can use spinach in the chili thing.

UPDATE: I’m adding ingredients as they occur to me. Spinach now part of the chili.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2012 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Grub, Recipes

PGA: Pretty good afternoon

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I enjoyed my salad, my eye’s feeling better, and I’m watching Foyle’s War on Amazon Prime (free with Prime membership). I fully realize that there may well come a time when I look back on my current situation—living independently, cooking what I want to eat when I want to eat it, not requiring assistance for daily tasks—as a wonderful time. So I enjoy my daily activities immensely, so that when the future me thinks, “You didn’t know how good you had it,” I can reply, “Did so!”

It occurs to me, as it probably has to you, that you are in the same situation: it’s easy to imagine a future condition, due to accident or misfortune or simple aging, from which vantage a day like today is a treasure never to be again possessed. So possess it now: it’s the only chance you get. Enjoy the very heck out of it—because some day, you may look back, and you don’t want to be kicking yourself for not realizing how good you had it.

I think this falls under “every cloud had a silver lining” or some such.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2012 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Daily life

State of the Washington Post: circling the drain…

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James Fallows points out two very explicit warnings of where the Washington Post is headed. Hint: the circles to which the title refers are ever-tightening…

Early in Fallows’s post, he quotes Robert Kaiser, long a Washington Post mainstay—back in the days when the Post was a hot newspaper, breaking stories like the Watergate burglary and where it led. Kaiser says,

“When I was managing editor of The Washington Post, everything we did was better than anyone in the business,” he said. “We had the best weather, the best comics, the best news report, the fullest news report. “

And that is the simple truth. When I was living in Annapolis as Watergate was breaking, I bought the paper every day: the news was incredible, and not just DC news: great coverage. And the comics were totally wonderful. Four pages jam-packed. All together, not strung through the paper (though I think I did have to look for some—Doonesbury, for example).

But look what is happening now.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2012 at 12:35 pm

Posted in Washington Post

Good salad, feeling better

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As soon as I knew I would have a salad for lunch, I figured out the protein (5 oz. canned sockeye salmon) and the starch (1.5 oz mini-penne pasta). I immediately weighed and cooked the pasta so it could cool, discovered I had purchased fresh asparagus (quite high in zinc, as it happens), so I  cut that into sections and steamed it so it could cool as well. Then at lunch, pasta, salmon, asparagus, and salad greens into a bowl, 2 tsp EVOO and toss well. A pinch of salt, several grindings of pepper, juice of 1/2 lime and about a Tbsp of sherry vinegar, toss again, and that’s lunch.

The Vicodin has kicked in and my eye is much more comfortable. Still calling the doc tomorrow, though.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2012 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

About To-Do lists

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Several of us are big fans of To-Do lists. The Eldest calls “list-productive” the activity of consolidating and reorganizing To-Do lists: no actual task on the list is accomplished (unless you’re foresighted enough to include “Organize lists” as a task), but still one achieves a great feeling of satisfaction—and accomplishment.

I was reading Maria Popova’s review of the book Willpower, by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney, and think it’s worth your click. The conclusion:

. . . When a psychologist was invited to give a talk at the Pentagon on managing time and resources, he decided to warm up the elite group of generals with a short writing exercise. He asked them all to write a summary of their strategic approach limited to 25 words.

The exercise stumped most of them. None of the distinguished men in uniform could come up with anything.

The only general who managed a response was the lone woman in the room. She had already had a distinguished career, having worked her way up through the ranks and been wounded in combat in Iraq. Her summary of her approach was as follows: ‘First I make a list of priorities: one, two, three, and so on. Then I cross out everything from three down.’

Unscrupulous, perhaps, but the authors argue this is a simple version of an important to-do list strategy for reconciling the long-term with the short-term, or “the fussy with the fuzzy.”

Comedian Drew Carey took a different approach to mastering his to-do list — he outsourced his strategy to productivity guru David Allen, author of the cultish, modern Bible Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity, who taught him how to adhere to specific next steps rather than abstract larger goals. The latter loom in the back of our mind like a nagging mother, never fully silenced until specific actionable steps are taken.

In fact, our brain appears to be wired to nag about unfinished to-do list items as uncompleted tasks and unmet goals continue to pop up into our minds. This is called the Zeigarnik effect and explains phenomena like earworms — when you hear only a portion of song, the song is likely to run through your mind at odd intervals as your brain struggles to finish it. Originally, the Zeigarnik effect was believed to be the brain’s way of ensuring goals are eventually accomplished, by prodding you into urgency until they are. But recent research has shed new light on the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious in our cognitive to-do lists.

[It] turns out that the Zeigarnik effect is not, as was assumed for decades, a reminder that continues unabated until the task gets done. The persistence of distracting thoughts is not an indication that the unconscious is working to finish the task. Nor is it the unconscious nagging the conscious mind to finish the task right away. Instead, the unconscious is asking the conscious mind to make a plan. The unconscious mind apparently can’t do this on its own, so it nags the conscious mind to make a plan with specifics like time, place, and opportunity. Once the plan is formed, the unconscious can stop nagging the conscious mind with reminders.

The moral, then? Unless you are Woody Guthrie, keep your to-do list to a few very specific, actionable, non-conflicting items, then go fly your kite in peace.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2012 at 11:17 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

Obesity and the early mother-child relationship

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Interesting article at the Atlantic site:

The standard advice for weight loss is to eat less and exercise more. Although a sound approach, this strategy appears to be falling short in the war against obesity, particularly among children. A recent study proposed a very different take on overweight prevention starting in early childhood. Instead of focusing on the body’s energy balance, the researchers suggest improving the mother-toddler relationship, often called attachment.

The researchers explored the effect of maternal-child bonding during the preschool years on the likelihood of obesity during adolescence. Their results were striking.

There were 977 participants in the study group. The researchers used standardized direct observation methods to evaluate the mother-child interactions at 15, 24, 36 months and to characterize the quality of the relationship. If the children were able to use their mothers as sources of comfort and support when faced with new challenges and be comforted by their mothers following stressful experiences, they were designated as having solid attachment.

When the participants reached adolescence their weight was evaluated. The researchers found that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2012 at 11:10 am

Small victories

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Sometimes even a small victory can be quite heartening. This morning my eye is hurting again—Vicodin level—so tomorrow I’m calling the doc to go in for a look. One concern is that the pain is from some sort of sinus infection, but with my nifty new thermometer, I can see that my temperature is completely normal. I would think an infection would elevate it, but then that’s why I’m seeing the doctor: to talk to someone who knows more about this sort of thing than I.

But it was disheartening, and then when I printed a letter to a friend, the top margin was enormous and the bottom margin was small. I carefully checked settings in Word, and everything was fine. I rebooted in case I needed to reinitialize the printer or some such, and printed it again. Still no good.

I hate this sort of thing and was muttering to The Wife about the simplest thing is just to buy a new printer, but then pulled up my socks and marched in and sat down to explore. I thought I had an HP program that allowed me to view and revise printer settings, and I was going to start there, but I couldn’t find the damn program. Maybe it had not made it onto the new computer. But I looked down the Start menu, saw the list item for “printers,” clicked that, clicked on my HP printer, and looked at the settings. Lo! Paper size was set to A4 for some reason—I sure didn’t do it—so I set it back to “Letter,” reprinted the letter, and the margins were perfect.

Now the day suddenly seems ever so much better.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 February 2012 at 10:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

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