Later On

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

Archive for March 6th, 2021

One problem in watching TV series

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The problem exists in both dramas and comedies: many rely heavily on extremely unpleasant characters in whose company few, I think, would want to spend any time at all. Two examples: drama, Yellowstone; comedy, Doc Martin. For me, neither was watchable, and very quickly.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 7:04 pm

Posted in Movies & TV

Ten years ago, the world learned the wrong lesson from the tragedy of Fukushima

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Douglas Saunders writes in the Globe & Mail:

Ten years ago next week, in the aftermath of a terrible natural disaster, Japan offered the world a valuable lesson about nuclear power and climate change. Unfortunately, it was not the lesson the world took from it.

The tsunami that tore through coastal Japanese cities in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake on March 11, 2011, was the most powerful tidal wave in three centuries. It killed more than 18,000 people – thousands are still listed as missing – left hundreds of thousands homeless and devastated the lives of countless families.

As that humanitarian crisis was just beginning, the world’s attention turned away from the larger tragedy and focused on the former coal-mining town of Okuma, in Fukushima prefecture, on Japan’s eastern coast. There, the tsunami had washed over the 40-year-old nuclear plant, flooded its basements and knocked out its backup power, causing the cores to melt down in three of its six reactors.

The meltdown, the ensuing mass evacuation and the lengthy, clumsy operation to stabilize the reactors became a global event that shaped the world’s perception of nuclear power.

The incident was, in every way, a worst-case scenario. The reactors – primitive General Electric boiling-water units with Mark I containment vessels, designed in the early 1960s to be cheaper than other reactors – are considered by many engineers to be the worst ever built. In 1972, shortly after the first Fukushima units came online, officials at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission recommended the GE design be discontinued because its containment system was so badly flawed. No reactors with such weak containment have been built since the 1970s.

The Fukushima units were also built in the worst possible place: a tsunami-prone stretch of coast. In 1967, during their construction, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) decided to save money by building them only 10 metres above sea level, not the 30 metres required in the design.

And the units were operated with astonishing incompetence. In 2012, a Japanese parliamentary panel concluded the nuclear disaster happened because TEPCO and its regulator had “failed to correctly develop the most basic safety requirements.”

So in short: This was a case in which the worst possible reactor, built in the worst possible place and operated by perhaps the least competent people was exposed to the worst possible seismic event.

And yet the death toll, in terms of acute radiation exposure, was zero. In 2018, one plant worker’s family won a lawsuit claiming his death by cancer had resulted from the disaster, although radiation scientists argued it was far more likely caused by his exposure to cigarette smoke. The evacuation itself caused more than 2,000 deaths, most involving the elderly and none related to radiation.

Long-term exposure to radiation might theoretically have raised the probability of cancer deaths in the region, but no such increase has yet been detected. The World Health Organization and academic researchers have concluded that the increased cancer risk near the reactor is either negligibly low or non-existent – the radiation blew out over the Pacific, where it dissipated quickly to non-detectable levels.

Amid all the tsunami and evacuation deaths, the reactor itself proved to be close to harmless.

But that wasn’t the lesson the world took from it. The chaos and anger coming from Japan created a sense that the meltdown had produced a deadly radiation event. For years afterward, implausible theories about radiation drifting across the Pacific to North America went unchecked in the media.

And we learned this erroneous lesson at exactly the wrong time. By 2011, we knew the largest single source of greenhouse gases contributing to climate change was the burning of fossil fuels to generate electricity. The most effective way to meet the target of limiting global warming to no more than two degrees is to convert the coal-fired generating plants in China, India and other countries to nuclear, as quickly as possible. Nuclear power is  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 3:40 pm

What about too little salt?

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I have prided myself on my low sodium intake, which I achieve through observing just a few rules:

  1. Eating whole foods, not processed foods, which almost always contain a heft amount of salt — thus no bread (high in sodium), cheese (likewise), cured meats, sauerkraut, pickles, chips, and so on.
  2. Buying only no-salt-added canned foods: tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, vegetable stock, and so on.
  3. Using no salt in cooking and adding no salt at the table.

I fairly easily maintained a level of about 1100mg/day of sodium, but now I’m thinking I may have gone overboard on my sodium-reduction program. This article in Healthline sets out 6 dangers of too low a sodium intake. It begins:

This article discusses sodium restriction in the general population. If you have been prescribed a low-sodium diet by your healthcare professional, or need to adhere to a low-sodium diet to manage a condition, the following information may not apply to you.

Sodium is an important electrolyte and main component of table salt.

Too much sodium has been linked to high blood pressure, and health organizations recommend that you limit your intake (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source3Trusted Source).

Most current guidelines recommend eating less than 2,300 mg per day. Some even go as low as 1,500 mg per day (4Trusted Source).

However, even though too much sodium causes problems, eating too little can be just as unhealthy.

Here are 6 little-known dangers of restricting sodium too much.

1. May increase in insulin resistance

A few studies have linked low sodium diets to increased insulin resistance (5Trusted Source6Trusted Source7Trusted Source).

Insulin resistance is when your body’s cells don’t respond well to signals from the hormone insulin, leading to higher insulin and blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance is believed to be a major driver of many serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease (8Trusted Source9Trusted Source).

One study involving 152 healthy people found that insulin resistance increased after only 7 days on a low sodium diet (5Trusted Source).

Yet, not all studies agree. Some have found no effect, or even a decrease in insulin resistance (10Trusted Source11Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

However, these studies varied in length, study population, and degree of salt restriction, which may explain the inconsistent results.

SUMMARYLow sodium diets have been associated with increased insulin resistance, a condition that causes higher blood sugar and insulin levels. This may lead to type 2 diabetes and other seriousdiseases.

2. No clear benefit for heart disease

It’s true that reducing your sodium intake can reduce your blood pressure.

However, blood pressure is only a risk factor for disease. What’s really significant is hard endpoints like heart attacks or death.

Several observational studies have looked at . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Right off the bat, I see one thing that might affect me, and might explain why my fasting BG readings might have been slightly higher the past 6 months — not by much but noticeable. Until about 6 months ago, my readings were around 5.8 to 5.9, and now they run around 6.3 to 6.4. Still controlled, but not so well.

So I’m going to introduce a little salt into my diet — baby steps, though. When I roast vegetables, I’ll salt them, and also use a little salt when I make hummus or guacamole. I also will add a little salt to my salad dressing. But for now I’ll limit added salt to those four things, and see how that goes.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 3:19 pm

There’s no reason to eat three meals a day

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I found Amanda Mull’s article in the Atlantic quite interesting because I’ve observed my own meal drift. I now start the day late (around 10:00am) with a pint of coffee or tea (plain, no sugar or milk/cream) and three pieces of fruit (usually now a tangerine, pear, and apple, but in the summer peaches, plums, apricots, and others will come into play). Then around 1:30pm I’ll eat a big bowl of mixed vegetables, grain, and beans, with walnuts, flaxseed, and turmeric. Around 5;00pm I’ll have another bowl, but without nuts, flaxseed, or turmeric. Generally I have a serving of mixed berries (thawed from frozen), either mid-afternoon or early evening.

Mull’s description of her own meal evolution begins:

For the first 34 years of my life, I always ate three meals a day. I never thought much about it—the routine was satisfying, it fit easily into my life, and eating three meals a day is just what Americans generally do. By the end of last summer, though, those decades of habit had begun to erode. The time-blindness of working from home and having no social plans left me with no real reason to plod over to my refrigerator at any specific hour of the day. To cope, I did what many Americans have done over the past year: I quasi-purposefully fumbled around for a new routine, and eventually I came up with some weird but workable results—and with Big Meal.

Big Meal is exactly what it sounds like: a meal that is large. It’s also untethered from linear time. Big Meal is not breakfast, lunch, or dinner—social constructs that no longer exist as such in my home—although it could theoretically occur at the traditional time for any of them. Big Meal comes when you’re ready to have it, which is a moment that only you can identify. For me, this is typically in the late afternoon, but sometimes it’s at breakfast. Generally, Big Meal happens once a day.

In the dieting (excuse me, biohacking) trend known as intermittent fasting, people compress their calories into a limited window of hours. But that’s not what Big Meal is at all. It’s not a diet. I snack whenever I feel like it—Triscuits with slices of pepper jack, leftover hummus from the Turkish takeout place that sometimes provides Big Meal, a glob of smooth peanut butter on a spoon. The phrase started as a joke about my inability to explain to a friend why I was making risotto in the middle of the afternoon, or why I didn’t have an answer to “What’s for dinner?” at 6 p.m. beyond “Uh, well, I ate a giant burrito at 11 a.m. and grazed all afternoon, so I think I’m done for the day.” Now I simply say, “It’s time for Big Meal,” or “I already had Big Meal.”

This curious change in my own eating was just the beginning. The pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of daily life, but the effects on how people eat have been particularly acute. Dining closures and weekend boredom have pushed a country of reticent cooks to prepare more of its own meals. Delivery-app middlemen have tightened their grip on the takeout market. Supply shortages have made flour, beans, pasta, and yeast hot commodities. Viral recipes have proliferated—can I interest anyone in sourdoughbanana breadshallot pastabaked feta, or a truly excellent cast-iron-pan pizza?

Even for people who have had a relatively stable existence over the past year, pandemic mealtime changes have been chaotic. Which isn’t to say that they’ve been uniformly negative. Big shifts in daily life have a way of forcing people into new habits—and forcing them to figure out what they actually want to eat.

If you pore over the food-business news from the past year, there’s little question that lots of people have changed their habits in one way or another. For instance, many people are buying more snacks—in January, Frito-Lay said that some of its marquee brands, such as Tostitos and Lay’s, had finished the year with sales increases of roughly 30 to 40 percent. The entire “fruit snack” category has more than doubled its sales, according to one market analysis. Frozen-food sales are up more than 20 percent, and online orders of packaged foods as varied as chewing gum and wine have also seen a marked increase.

But sales numbers and trend reports tell only part of the story. Underneath them are people trying to mold their individual circumstances to survivability, or maybe even pleasure, however they can, and the biggest unifying factor is that “normal” hardly exists anymore. For millions of people who have lost income during the pandemic, just getting groceries is often a hard-fought victory. Among the wealthy, constant Caviar deliveries and access to private, pandemic-safe dining bubbles at fine restaurants have kept things novel. Households in the middle have scrambled to form new, idiosyncratic routines all their own.

Wendy Robinson, a community-college administrator in St. Paul, Minnesota, told me that working from home most of the week has had the opposite effect on her than it did on me: It added more meals to her life. Before the pandemic, “a lot of my eating was really convenience-driven, and I didn’t have a dedicated lunchtime, because I just was so busy,” she said. Food came erratically—from a co-worker’s desk, from the campus cafeteria, from Starbucks, picked up on the way home after a late night at work. Now she eats a real lunch most days, and she cooks more—a hobby she has always enjoyed—because she can do it while she’s on conference calls and during what used to be her commute.

Kids have necessitated their own set of pandemic adaptations. Robinson and her husband, who also works from home most of the time, have two kids who attend school remotely. Despite a rough first few months and plenty of ongoing stresses, Robinson says the at-home life has also given her more opportunity to cook with her kids and teach them the basics. Lately, her 12-year-old son has begun to enthusiastically pitch in during the family’s meals. “He makes a legit great omelet and delicious scrambled eggs, and he makes himself grilled cheese,” Robinson said. “Sometimes, when I am really busy, he will make me lunch now.”

With younger kids, things can be a little trickier.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 12:29 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Why Roy’s Rule — Turn it off and then back on again — so often works

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In the (wonderful) series The IT Crowd (which you can watch on Netflix), the senior IT guy Roy Trenneman (played by Chris O’Dowd) responds to any problem, “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”

Yesterday I was downloading some new books from Standard Ebooks onto my Kindle, and when I looked at the “Downloaded” list there were two titles greyed out — not the books I had just downloaded, but two from some time ago. I did a search and found the actual downloads on the device. I could open those files and all was well, but the two ghost files remained as an irritant: I could not open them, I could not select them, and I could not delete them.

I was set to go through the minor ordeal of contacting Amazon support and working through the problem with them, when I remembered Roy. So I turned the Kindle off — really off, holding down the off switch until I got an option to Restart the device. I selected that, and the Kindle totally rebooted, and when it was done the ghost files were gone.

Why does this work so often?

A computer program — whether an app or the OS itself — has an orderly shutdown procedure for when you exit the app. However, such an orderly exit may not have occurred. There may have been a power failure or a system crash or a bug in the program that caused it to crash or some other program running through memory overwriting things and causing an abrupt system crash — a variety of things might have disrupted an orderly shutdown. Therefore software programs on start-up cannot assume that everything is in perfect order and (assuming they are have been well designed, written, and tested) will go through a housekeeping routine on startup to make sure everything is in order and to clean up anything that is not.

By turning the device off and then back on again, your force the activation of that initial housekeeping, which restores everything to what it should be (as best the software can). Thus when my Kindle was restarted, the housekeeping on startup found extraneous ghost files and removed them.

It’s a great series, BTW, and well worth watching: four seasons of six episodes each.

Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 10:06 am

Feather AS-D1/D2 test shave with the new way of using Grooming Dept pre-shave

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In response to a reader request, this morning I am using my Feather AS-D1. My D1 is indistinguishable from the AS-D2, though certainly some AS-D1s were easily distinguished by their gross inefficiency — I tried one AS-D1 that would not cut at all.  The problems associated with keeping the AS-D1 consistent were apparently enough for Feather to discontinue the model, replacing it with the Feather AS-D2.

My Feather AS-D1, like the D2, is an extremely comfortable razor with little or no blade feel, yet despite that it is quite efficient and routinely produces a BBS result. The idea today was to see the effect of using Grooming Dept Moisturizing Pre-Shave following the specific guidelines set out in the instructions:

  1. Use a pea-sized amount (a little more than I had been using previously); and
  2. Massage the pre-shave into the wet stubble for a full minute by the clock. (I had been estimating the time, and it seemed to be more like 25 seconds than a minute, a discovery I made by using a timer.)

The shaving soap this morning is Declaration Groomiing’s Icarus formula in a fragrance developed in collaboration with Chatillon Lux, Yazu/Rose/Patchouli (which turns out to be a very nice fragrance indeed). The Bruce brush provided a great lather, and when I set to work with the Feather, I again found the glide noticeably better than in my regular shave. I am sure the soap contributed:

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

Three passes did indeed again produce an impeccably smooth result, and a little splash of Chatillon Lux’s toner in the matching fragrance finished the job. Just as yesterday, my face is remarkably smooth. The skin feel when I rub my face differs from yesterday’s, and that I think is due to the aftershave formulation. The Chatillon Lux toner I used has these ingredients:

Denatured alcohol, chamomile extract, calendula extract, witch hazel, aloe vera, cat’s claw bark extract, polysorbate 20, fragrance, vegetable glycerin, menthol

Yesterday’s aftershave was, I believe, simpler, and the lemon components also may have contributed a different feel. But in terms of pure smoothness, today’s result matches that of yesterday.

Oops: Typo in my label. I shall correct it.


Written by Leisureguy

6 March 2021 at 9:43 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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