Later On

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

Archive for March 15th, 2019

Tung ho redux, with upgrade

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Reprised this recipe, but went with 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and 2 Tbsp mirin (same brands as in the original—those brands make a difference) instead of 1.5 Tbsp. I also added about 2 tsp toasted sesame oil with the soy sauce and mirin. The lemon was large, and I also had a lemon half lying about, so this time I used juice of 1.5 lemons. And I bought a raw boneless skinless turkey breast that was in thin slices for stir-fry, so I included that to bump the protein. After cooking, they were a very tender and smooth texture.

I had to complete each slice of the breast—their slice doesn’t go quite all the way through so the breast retains its shape and easily packaged as a unit. So I had to cut the rest of the way through. But since I had a sharp knife, it was just a matter of the left hand learning how to leaf through the breast, clearly exposing the next cut. It became easy and fast very quickly. That really was the adaptive unconscious at work. All I (conscious me) did was to pay attention to what I was doing. The learning and improvement did not involve conscious thought, though I consciously observed the learning curve in action, from total novice to 1-dan progression.

This is a good point at which to recommend Timothy Wilson’s fascinating book Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 March 2019 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Daily life

3 cities in the U.S. have ended chronic homelessness: Here’s how they did i

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Adele Peters writes in Fast Company:

In late February, the city of Abilene, Texas, made an announcement: It had ended local veteran homelessness. It was the first community in the state and the ninth in the country to reach that goal, as part of a national program called Built for Zero. Now, through the same program, Abilene is working to end chronic homelessness. While homelessness might often be seen as an intractable problem because of its complexity–or one that costs more to solve than communities can afford–the program is proving that is not the case.

“By ending homelessness, we mean getting to a place where it’s rare, brief, and it gets solved correctly and quickly when it does happen,” says Rosanne Haggerty, president of Community Solutions, the nonprofit that leads the Built for Zero program. “That’s a completely achievable end state, we now see.” The nonprofit, which calls this goal “functional zero,” announced today that it is accelerating its work in 50 communities.

One key to the process is data, and a visual dashboard that lets agencies track people experiencing homelessness in real time. In Abilene, with a population a little more than 120,000, for example, the city located every homeless veteran, gathered information about each individual situation, and stored this information in a “by-name list” that was continually updated. “It basically just forced us to continuously look to change improvements to our system, and how to use real-time data to improve our performance,” says John Meier, the program manager for supportive services for veteran families for the West Central Texas Regional Foundation. “We’ve always had lots of data sitting around, but haven’t had it in one place and [haven’t been] utilizing it to our advantage.” Every agency in the city began working together and meeting to discuss how to get each veteran–21 people, as of February 2018–into housing. While watching the data, they could test interventions like working with local landlords and the public housing agency to prioritize people on the list. The average amount of time to house a veteran shrank from more than 40 days to 26. By November 2018, 10 months after joining the Built for Zero program, Abilene had reached the goal of “functional zero” for veteran homelessness. (It made the announcement in February in part because it was waiting for federal confirmation, which was delayed by the government shutdown.)

Community Solutions had previously worked with 186 cities in a campaign that got more than 100,000 homeless people into housing in less than four years. But it wanted to go further. “We got to a point where we helped communities house a lot more people and get better at housing people,” Haggerty says. “But we still didn’t see them ending homelessness, and that’s where Built for Zero came in. It really is a very radical idea that without real-time, person-specific information, communities just can’t pool everything they’ve got together and be accountable at solving the problem.”

The nonprofit partnered with the Tableau Foundation, a philanthropic arm of Tableau Software, to use the company’s data visualization tools. Being able to easily track the data helped communities in the program shift “from incremental improvement to transformational results,” Haggerty says. Tableau saw parallels to the work that it had done in Zambia to help the country track its work to eliminate malaria; before using a data visualization tool, the government there had struggled to see who was contracting malaria and how they were being treated. In planning meetings, the government had been using outdated data from the previous year. As in American cities tackling homelessness through multiple agencies, Zambia wasn’t seeing a systems-level view of the situation and couldn’t respond strategically. After it started working with real-time dashboards, it was able to reduce malaria deaths by more than 90%, and reduce malaria cases by more than 80%.

The company saw the potential for similar transformation of work on homelessness. “For decades, homelessness organizations would collect data, and they would send it to HUD,” says Neal Myrick, global head of the Tableau Foundation. “Once a year, HUD would produce a massive report that nobody was really reading. And the information wasn’t really usable to the people who needed it on the ground to make active decisions about what to do day-to-day to better solve the problem.”

Communities in the program use a coordinated approach. Bergen County, New Jersey, with a population of nearly 1 million, was the first in the country to end chronic homelessness, reaching the goal in 2017. (Six months earlier, it had also ended veteran homelessness.) The county created a “command center” that brought together various organizations working on homelessness, and then began using real-time data about each person experiencing homelessness so that everyone could work together to get them housed. Like many places, Bergen County also committed to a “housing first” approach, meaning that people move into permanent housing as a first step before also getting help with finding a job, mental healthcare, or other issues. The data revealed trends, like the fact that their population of those who were chronically homeless–homeless for more than a year–was growing because people were sitting on a waiting list for so long that they were passing the one-year threshold. The county was able to begin prioritizing those who were close the one-year mark to get them into housing faster; now, no one has “aged in” to chronic homelessness for months.

Some advocates for people experiencing homelessness are concerned about this type of data-gathering and the risk that data could be misused by law enforcement. In communities using the Built for Zero system, law enforcement may be part of a local team working on the problem, but typically doesn’t have access to the data. Community Solutions says that there haven’t been any cases of law enforcement trying to seize the data or use it inappropriately.

Continuing to use real-time data helps the county identify new problems that are emerging; right now, for example, they’re seeing an uptick in both young people and seniors who are homeless. “The data is so important because by the time you know it’s a problem, it’s too late,” says Julia Orlando, director of the Bergen County Housing, Health and Human Service Center. “So if you can start seeing trends before it’s a really bad problem, you can start adjusting your policies or trying to get additional services in your facility to try to address that.” For example, they can now start planning to add skilled nursing care to their shelter and searching for different types of grants to support eldercare.

The county had the resources to achieve the “functional zero” goal, Orlando says. But the focus of the program and its use of data helped it actually accomplish it. While cities and organizations working on the problem of homelessness often point to a lack of resources, it may be the case in many communities that the right resources exist–or can be mobilized–with a more strategic approach. “Once communities can actually see what’s going on, they can make informed decisions about where to put resources and where new resources are needed,” says Haggerty. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the government used specific data to say exactly how much money it needed to end veteran homelessness, and that helped get it the funding to reach the goal.

The next opportunity for cities or counties to join the program and get training will happen in October. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 March 2019 at 3:07 pm

AI security camera zeroes in on shoplifters

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And it can be applied to detect any security violation in which the perpetrator knows that s/he’s doing wrong. From the IFTF newsletter:

New AI security camera detects shoplifters before they steal

The Vaak camera system is designed to put a stop to shoplifting, which results in $34 billion of lost sales annually. The AI-powered camera continuously monitors store customers, looking for signs of nervousness and other behaviors associated with shoplifters, alerting shop owners when they should pay special attention. Hiroaki Ando, a retail consultant at Ernst & Young Advisory & Consulting Co. in Tokyo told Bloomberg Quint, “The potential is broad since it can be applied outside of shoplifting prevention and outside of retail — such as with manufacturing or other types of marketing.” Here’s a video of the Vaak system catching a shoplifter in action.

I would think that a similar system could, for example, monitor students or employees to detect those in need of some sort of intervention (e.g., depression, workplace rage, and so on).

Written by LeisureGuy

15 March 2019 at 10:39 am

Grog early in the morning starts the day right.

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Tallow + Steel soaps (and aftershaves, for that matter) are very nice indeed, and Grog is one I like a lot. They have a different line-up of fragrances, but their ingredients remain first-rate. This one is a bay-rum variant, with fragrance notes “West Indies Bay + Key Lime + Labdanum + White Fir + Rosemary + Ylang Ylang.”

My Fine Classic made a very nice lather and the Fendrihan Mk II bronze-coated stainless is a superb razor and easily produced a BBS result, to which I applied a good splash of Grog aftershave. Tallow + Steel aftershaves are witch-hazel based, which I like.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 March 2019 at 8:41 am

Posted in Shaving

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