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Archive for October 17th, 2018

Cute meet: The beginning of all their journeys.

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Master and Commander, Book 1 of the Aubrey/Maturin Novels by Patricke O’Brian, begins:

THE MUSIC-ROOM in the Governor’s House at Port Mahon, a tall, handsome, pillared octagon, was filled with the triumphant first movement of Locatelli’s C major quartet. The players, Italians pinned against the far wall by rows and rows of little round gilt chairs, were playing with passionate conviction as they mounted towards the penultimate crescendo, towards the tremendous pause and the deep, liberating final chord. And on the little gilt chairs at least some of the audience were following the rise with an equal intensity: there were two in the third row, on the left-hand side; and they happened to be sitting next to one another. The listener farther to the left was a man of between twenty and thirty whose big form overflowed his seat, leaving only a streak of gilt wood to be seen here and there. He was wearing his best uniform – the white-lapelled blue coat, white waistcoat, breeches and stockings of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, with the silver medal of the Nile in his buttonhole – and the deep white cuff of his gold-buttoned sleeve beat the time, while his bright blue eyes, staring from what would have been a pink-and-white face if it had not been so deeply tanned, gazed fixedly at the bow of the first violin. The high note came, the pause, the resolution; and with the resolution the sailor’s fist swept firmly down upon his knee. He leant back in his chair, extinguishing it entirely, sighed happily and turned towards his neighbour with a smile. The words ‘Very finely played, sir, I believe’ were formed in his gullet if not quite in his mouth when he caught the cold and indeed inimical look and heard the whisper, ‘If you really must beat the measure, sir, let me entreat you to do so in time, and not half a beat ahead.’

Jack Aubrey’s face instantly changed from friendly ingenuous communicative pleasure to an expression of somewhat baffled hostility: he could not but acknowledge that he had been beating the time; and although he had certainly done so with perfect accuracy, in itself the thing was wrong. His colour mounted; he fixed his neighbour’s pale eye for a moment, said, ‘I trust …’, and the opening notes of the slow movement cut him short.

The ruminative ’cello uttered two phrases of its own and then began a dialogue with the viola. Only part of Jack’s mind paid attention, for the rest of it was anchored to the man at his side. A covert glance showed that he was a small, dark, white-faced creature in a rusty black coat – a civilian. It was difficult to tell his age, for not only had he that kind of face that does not give anything away, but he was wearing a wig, a grizzled wig, apparently made of wire, and quite devoid of powder: he might have been anything between twenty and sixty. ‘About my own age, in fact, however,’ thought Jack. ‘The ill-looking son of a bitch, to give himself such airs.’ With this almost the whole of his attention went back into the music; he found his place in the pattern and followed it through its convolutions and quite charming arabesques to its satisfying, logical conclusion. He did not think of his neighbour again until the end of the movement, and then he avoided looking in his direction.

The minuet set Jack’s head wagging with its insistent beat, but he was wholly unconscious of it; and when he felt his hand stirring on his breeches and threatening to take to the air he thrust it under the crook of his knee. It was a witty, agreeable minuet, no more; but it was succeeded by a curiously difficult, almost harsh last movement, a piece that seemed to be on the edge of saying something of the very greatest importance. The volume of sound died away to the single whispering of a fiddle, and the steady hum of low conversation that had never stopped at the back of the room threatened to drown it: a soldier exploded in a stifled guffaw and Jack looked angrily round. Then the rest of the quartet joined the fiddle and all of them worked back to the point from which the statement might arise: it was essential to get straight back into the current, so as the ’cello came in with its predictable and necessary contribution of pom, pom-pom-pom, poom, Jack’s chin sank upon his breast and in unison with the ’cello he went pom, pom-pom-pom, poom. An elbow drove into his ribs and the sound shshsh hissed in his ear. He found that his hand was high in the air, beating time; he lowered it, clenched his mouth shut and looked down at his feet until the music was over. He heard the noble conclusion and recognized that it was far beyond the straightforward winding-up that he had foreseen, but he could take no pleasure in it. In the applause and general din his neighbour looked at him, not so much with defiance as with total, heart-felt disapprobation: they did not speak, but sat in rigid awareness of one another while Mrs Harte, the commandant’s wife, went through a long and technically difficult piece on her harp. Jack Aubrey looked out of the long, elegant windows into the night: Saturn was rising in the south-south-east, a glowing ball in the Minorcan sky. A nudge, a thrust of that kind, so vicious and deliberate, was very like a blow. Neither his personal temper nor his professional code could patiently suffer an affront: and what affront was graver than a blow?

As it could not for the moment find any outward expression, his anger took on the form of melancholy: he thought of his shipless state, of half and whole promises made to him and broken, and of the many schemes he had built up on visionary foundations. He owed his prize-agent, his man of business, a hundred and twenty pounds; and its interest of fifteen per cent was about to fall due; and his pay was five pounds twelve shillings a month. He thought of men he knew, junior to him but with better luck or better interest, who were now lieutenants in command of brigs or cutters, or who had even been promoted master and commander: and all of them snapping up trabacaloes in the Adriatic, tartans in the Gulf of Lions, xebecs and settees along the whole of the Spanish coast. Glory, professional advancement, prize-money.

The storm of applause told him that . . .

That’s the opening of Master and Commander, the first novel in Patrick O’Brian’s Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin series, which it is important to read in order. The next two are: Post Captain and HMS Surprise. They constitute a trilogy of sorts, but the entire series is more than a score.

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2018 at 4:47 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life

New (temporary) walking route

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I’m pleased to report that I’ve found a few blocks of absolutely flat walking, just the opposite direction from my usual walk. Getting 5000-step days and I’ll soon up it to 6000. But in the meantime, slow walking, no stress (but with poles), and be careful.

Knee is holding up fine.

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2018 at 2:09 pm

Impromptu cod stew

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I used my 11″ 4-qt sauté pan.

1.5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 bunches thick scallions, chopped (including the leaves)
good pinch of salt
freshly ground pepper

Sauté onions until they wilt. Add:

2 Serrano peppers, chopped small
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped small
10-12 San Marzano cherry tomatoes, sliced
8-10 cloves garlic, chopped small
1-1.5″ piece of ginger root, grated
about 1.5-2 Tbsp Mexican oregano
1 Tbsp smoked (Spanish) paprika

Sauté for a few minutes. Add:

1-1.5 lbs Icelandic cod, cut into chunks
1/4 cup white wine (Gerwurtztraminer, as it happens)
2 teaspoons tamari

Cover, reduce heat, simmer for 10 minutes.

Add to stew:

1/2 can black-eyed peas

Stir to mix and heat. Then serve.

I just had the peas on hand but they really make a difference.

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2018 at 1:30 pm

GOP Senator Pushed VA to Use Unproven “Brainwave Frequency” Treatment

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The GOP is certainly corrupt. Isaac Arnsdorf reports in ProPublica:

Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican, pushed doctors at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Reno to adopt an experimental mental health treatment marketed by a company with ties to his office.

On a Friday night last December in his Reno office, Heller, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced VA officials to representatives from a health care startup called CereCare. The company markets an “off-label” method of treating addiction and post-traumatic stress, using electromagnetic brain stimulation.

The meeting came about because two of CereCare’s partners had a business connection to Heller’s senior aide in Reno. “We’ve known her for years,” one of the partners, Nino Pedrini, said of the aide, Glenna Smith. Pedrini and his partner have a separate joint venture with Smith’s former employer. “This was Glenna reaching out to us, knowing what we were doing, saying we think there’s a fit here where you folks can help our veterans,” Pedrini said.

Smith declined to answer questions about her role in arranging the meeting; she said she has never had a financial interest in Pedrini’s companies.

The Trump administration is encouraging the VA to use more alternative treatments, even though doctors and mental health experts caution against steering patients to procedures that haven’t been scientifically demonstrated to be safe and effective. The administration’s enthusiasm for such experimental treatments has opened the door to a flood of hopeful vendors like CereCare.

Heller declined to answer specific questions about the meeting. In a statement, he said he “will never apologize for supporting policies that could lead to additional treatment options for Nevada veterans because no one who has served this country should be waiting for care once they return from combat.”

Heller co-sponsored a bill directing the VA to start a pilot program on CereCare’s procedure. Another of CereCare’s partners, Judi Kosterman, participated in drafting the legislation, she said in an interview. Kosterman described herself as CereCare’s expert on the procedure, and her business card identified her as “Dr.” She is not a physician and her doctorate is in education, according to official records.

The bill says it provides no additional funding, so the pilot program would come at the expense of other treatments that are already proven to be effective. For that reason, it drew opposition from Veterans of Foreign Wars, which represents 1.6 million members. “The VFW believes that VA must spend its already scarce health care resources on therapies that have shown promise or have a proven track record,” the organization told Congress. Other veterans groups, such as Amvets and Vietnam Veterans of America, supported the bill because they said the treatment is worth trying. The Senate veterans committee hasn’t voted on the bill.

The procedure that CereCare was pitching to the VA uses electrical scans of the brain and heart to detect a patient’s “intrinsic brainwave frequency” and find “the area of the brain in need of restoration,” according to materials brought to the meeting. CereCare then uses that data to apply electromagnetic pulses from a machine called a transcranial magnetic stimulator.

This procedure is off-label, meaning it uses equipment approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but in a way that is not approved by the agency. Off-label procedures are not uncommon or illegal, but the FDA has not signed off on their safety or effectiveness. . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2018 at 12:51 pm

Copies, Clones, And Conterfeits In The Wet Shaving World

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As manufacturing technology advances, counterfeit goods become more common, though of course counterfeiting in a problem in many areas—cf. Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil. Mantic 59 has an important article in Sharpologist about the specific area of shaving. He writes:

If “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” the manufacturers and vendors of the wet shaving world must be very flattered indeed.  It seems like when someone happens upon a product that generates a lot of buzz in the wet shaving community, others will try to hop on the bandwagon.  Sometimes it’s an homage.  Sometimes it’s a little more sketchy.


For the purposes of this article I’m dividing the content into three categories.  Here is how I define them:

Copy: a product that is similar to–but not exactly the same as–another product.  An example might be a razor that is similar-looking to another razor but is larger or lighter or otherwise distinguished from the original.

Clone: a product that is identical but sold under different circumstances, such as an “original equipment manufacturer” (OEM) product sold under different brand names.

Counterfeit: a product expressly sold to fraudulently deceive the customer into thinking they were receiving a genuine, name-brand product.


It’s also worthwhile to mention that, at least when discussing copies and clones, many of the patents that shaving hardware (e.g. razors) designs are based on have long-since expired.  This tends to “muddy the water” somewhat, especially in the minds of some manufacturers in the Far East where the terms like patent and  copyright seem to mean they have the “right” to “copy” something….

And speaking of patents, it should also be noted that there are two basic kinds of patents and that they are viewed differently in the eyes of the law (at least in the United States):

According the the U.S. Patent And Trademark Office“In general terms, a ‘utility patent’ protects the way an article is used and works (35 U.S.C. 101), while a ‘design patent’ protects the way an article looks (35 U.S.C. 171). The ornamental appearance for an article includes its shape/configuration or surface ornamentation applied to the article, or both. Both design and utility patents may be obtained on an article if invention resides both in its utility and ornamental appearance.” [emphasis mine] 

Utility Patents are much harder to obtain than Design Patents, but Utility Patents have stronger laws protecting them.

So with this background in mind let’s examine the state of making stuff in the wet shaving world….


As I previously mentioned, many razor patents have lived their life and have expired.  So there is really nothing “illegal” about creating a copy, as long as other laws are not broken.  Brad Maggard of Maggard Razors offered this observation:

“There are plenty of Copies on the market – for example, the Baili BR-179 is a pretty darn close copy of the Gillette superspeed.  The Maggard Slant is a copy of the Mulcuto slant from the 1930s. The iKon OC Deluxe is a copy of the Gillette NEW. There are no laws being broken here with “copying” an existing product that does not have any valid patents, and it allows for manufacturers to take proven designs from the past and create inexpensive, functional goods.

The downside here is that since nobody can protect a razor handle design or brush handle design, in the Artisan community, people copy others work very often.  In addition, larger manufacturers are copying small artisan designs as well – take for example the Wolfman handle: . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2018 at 12:01 pm

Declaration Grooming’s Icarus formula

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Continuing my run through various soaps that made the Sharpologist list, today I am using Declaration Grooming’s Darkfall, one of their Icarus formula soaps:

Stearic Acid, Water, Castor Oil, Avocado Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Mango Seed Butter, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Bison Tallow, Lamb Tallow, Colloidal Oatmeal, Goat’s Milk, Lanolin, Bentonite Clay, Tocopheryl Acetate, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Extract, Salix Alba L. (White Willow) Bark Extract, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract, Tetrasodium EDTA, Tussah Silk

The tetrasodium EDTA will help this soap when hard water is used. The fragrance is described:

Darkfall is a spicy oriental designed to capture the spirit of fall in the rural south. Agarwood, amber, and benzoin provide a deep, warm base for the cinnamon and clove top notes. Birch tar adds a slight smokiness that represents the ever-present smell of burning leaves that heralds the arrival of fall in Georgia.

Using my Simpson Wee Scot, I got a good lather, and the iKon Shavecraft 101 did a wonderful. A splash of Klar Seifen to finish the shave, and I’m ready for the day (first day of legal cannabis here in Canada—probably should have chosen Dead Sea as the shaving soap, since its fragrance includes cannabis).

Written by Leisureguy

17 October 2018 at 7:33 am

Posted in Shaving

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