Later On

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

Archive for April 2022

Green-lentil tempeh comparison: 24 hrs v. 31 hrs

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After 24 hrs on left, after 31 hrs on right. I’ll take the batch out of the incubator when I go to bed 4 hours from now. Here’s the primary post on this batch.

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 6:46 pm

Do the probiotic bacteria in fermented foods survive the digestive system to arrive in the gut?

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One reason I make fermented foods, beyond the fun of making and pleasure of eating, is to bring reinforcements to my gut microbiome. My thought is that the lactobacilli that do the fermenting will travel down to the gut and take up residence there. But do they?

The article “The truth about fermented foods,” by dietitian Katrina Pace in says it does. From the article:

The bacteria in fermented foods can withstand the acid in the stomach and, with natural fibres, are transported along the whole digestive system. Studies have shown fermented foods can change the bacteria that grow in your gut, reduce ‘bad bacteria’ and improve tummy troubles.

She adds that “fermentation makes cabbage easier to digest, so even the most tender tummies can manage it.”

The article contains quite a bit of information.

In looking into this, I also learned from one of the Nutrition Facts videos that:

Researchers have since worked on characterizing these bacterial communities, and found two interesting things. First, that “the communities on each produce type were significantly distinct from one another.” So, the tree fruits harbored different bacteria than veggies on the ground, and grapes and mushrooms seemed to be off in their own little world. So, if indeed these bugs turn out to be good for us, that would underscore the importance of eating not just a greater quantity, but greater variety, of fruits and veggies every day. And second, they found that there were “significant differences in [microbial] community composition between conventional and organic…produce.” “This highlights the potential for differences in the [bacteria] between conventionally and organically farmed produce items to impact human health.” But, we don’t know in what direction. They certainly found different bacteria on organic versus conventional, but we don’t know enough about fruit and veggie bugs to make a determination as to which bacterial communities are healthier.

That makes me want to skip the starter culture and try fermenting some vegetables with their own probiotic populations — specifically, fermenting cabbage (and including apple and onion in the ferment) and fermenting mushrooms, both without using a starter culture.

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 5:55 pm

How Postwar Italy Created The Paparazzi

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30 April 2022 at 3:59 pm

Alcoholics Anonymous is the most effective path to alcohol abstinence

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For a long time there were no studies on the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous because the organization’s insistence on anonymity meant that studies involving individual members were impossible. Apparently that changed, as Mandy Ericson reports for Stanford Medicine. The report begins:

Alcoholics Anonymous, the worldwide fellowship of sobriety seekers, is the most effective path to abstinence, according to a comprehensive analysis conducted by a Stanford School of Medicine researcher and his collaborators.

After evaluating 35 studies — involving the work of 145 scientists and the outcomes of 10,080 participants — Keith Humphreys, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and his fellow investigators determined that AA was nearly always found to be more effective than psychotherapy in achieving abstinence. In addition, most studies showed that AA participation lowered health care costs.

AA works because it’s based on social interaction, Humphreys said, noting that members give one another emotional support as well as practical tips to refrain from drinking. “If you want to change your behavior, find some other people who are trying to make the same change,” he said.

The review was published March 11 in Cochrane Database of Systematic ReviewCochrane requires its authors to undertake a rigorous process that ensures the studies represented in its summaries are high-quality and the review of evidence is unbiased.

Cochrane Reviews are the gold standard in medicine for integration of all the research about a particular intervention,” Humphreys said. “We wanted to do this work through Cochrane because of its rigor and reputation.”

The other co-authors are a researcher from Harvard Medical School and a researcher from the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

Though well-known, AA faces skepticism

Although AA is well-known and used by millions around the world, mental health professionals are sometimes skeptical of its effectiveness, Humphreys said. Psychologists and psychiatrists, trained to provide cognitive behavioral therapy and motivational enhancement therapy to treat patients with alcohol-use disorder, can have a hard time admitting that the lay people who run AA groups do a better job of keeping people on the wagon.

Early in his career, Humphreys said, he dismissed AA, thinking, “How dare these people do things that I have all these degrees to do?”

Humphreys noted that counseling can be designed to facilitate engagement with AA — what he described as “an extended, warm handoff into the fellowship.” For the review article, Humphreys and his colleagues evaluated both AA and 12-step facilitation counseling.

AA began in 1935 when two men in Akron, Ohio, were searching for a way to stay sober; they found it by forming a support group. They later developed the 12 steps, the first being accepting one’s inability to control drinking; the last, helping others sustain sobriety by becoming a sponsor of a new member. The AA model — open to all and free — has spread around the globe, and AA now boasts over 2 million members in 180 nations and more than 118,000 groups.

Though the fellowship has been around for more than eight decades, researchers have only recently developed good methods to measure its effectiveness, Humphreys said.

For the Cochrane review, the researchers found 57 studies on AA; of those, 35 passed their rigorous criteria for quality. The studies used various methods to measure AA’s effectiveness on alcohol use disorder: the length of time participants abstained from alcohol; the amount they reduced their drinking, if they continued drinking; the consequences of their drinking; and health care costs.

AA shines

Most of the studies that measured abstinence found AA was significantly better than other interventions or no intervention. In one study, it was found to be 60% more effective. None of the studies found AA to be less effective.

In the studies that measured outcomes other than complete abstinence, AA was found to be . . .

Continue reading.

When I was young, an older person who had struggled with alcohol told me, “Alcohol is tricky,” and went on to talk about how easily people deceive themselves about their drinking. I listened because one of my grandfathers had been an alcoholic. He died before my first birthday, so I never knew him, but having it in the family, so to speak, has always made me wary. And I think alcohol is sneaky.

The information about AA is interesting. Glad they finally could do studies. Knowledge is ever so much better than ignorance, even well-intentioned ignorance.

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 2:31 pm

Grooming Dept Mallard Corretto and the stainless-steel RazoRock Mamba, with G.B. Kent BK4 and Pashana

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One’s preferences change over time (one advantage of the multiple-baseplate design of the Rockwell 6S), and I find now that the G.B. Kent BK4 is softer than I like. I once loved the brush, but now? Not so much. 

Nevertheless, it did produce a fine lather from Grooming Dept’s Mallard Corretto shaving soap, whose fragrance I still love: “Coffee, Brandy, Plum, Berries, Honey, Cacao Dust, Vanilla, Patchouli.” Yum, in an olfactory sense. And the soap itself is extremely nice:

Water, Stearic Acid, Duck Fat, Kukui Nut Oil, Goat Milk, Castor Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Cupuaçu Butter, Kokum Butter, Glycerin, Jojoba Oil, Myristic Acid, Shea Butter, Sodium Hydroxide, Fragrance, Coconut Milk, Tamanu Oil, Lauryl Laurate, Carnauba Wax, Beeswax, Allantoin, Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate, Betaine, Sodium Lactate, Silk Amino Acids, Oat Amino Acids, Sesame Oil, Macadamia Oil, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Gluconate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Tocopherols, Silk Peptides.

I noticed that it is a fairly thirsty soap, but with a little added water the brush is easily loaded, and then a bit more water intensifies the lather on the face.

RazoRock’s Mamba is a great razor, and the Halo handle works wonderfully. Three easy passes to a totally smooth face, and then a splash of Pashana to finish the job. When I bought this razor, there was only one model: the Mamba. Now there are two: Mamba 53 (at the link) and Mamba 70. I don’t know to which version my razor corresponds. Update: Thanks to John Smith in comments to this post, I now know that I have the original: Mamba 53.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 22: “a superb blend of green Gunpowder and Jasmine, as well as Keemun and Ceylon black teas. All the flavour of our world famous No. 10 Blend, with a touch of bergamot to brighten the flavour, and Ceylon to strengthen the brew. With slightly more pronounced citrus and floral tones, this makes for a great cup of tea.” And this afternoon it does task very good. (A late start today. It’s Saturday; what can I say?)

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 1:41 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Yay, lentils! You guys done good.

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I was worried about my lentils. Generally when I make a tempeh with beans, I start to see traces of the mold (Rhizopus oligosporus) after 12-14 hours, occasionally after 18 hours. But my lentils after 12 hours looked the same as at the start, and after 18 hours, nothing.

In the past I have had troubles in making lentil tempeh — partly, it’s somewhat difficult to get lentils dry enough, and also once I was using baking soda — a very bad idea for tempeh, since it makes the beans alkaline, toxic to the fungus. I thought that this time I had dried them enough, and I was careful to stop cooking before the lentils were soft

The important thing is that exponential reproduction works much like going bankrupt, as Hemingway describes it in The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?”
“Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

That describes also how exponential growth works. There’s an old brain teaser about a bacterium whose colonies double every hour. At 24 hours, the colony fills a petri dish. When was the dish half filled? The temptation is to say “at 12 hours,” which would be true if the growth were linear rather than exponential. The correct answer is “at 23 hours,” since in the next hour the colony doubles, filling in one hour the other half of the petri dish.

Since the fungus grows (roughly) exponentially, that’s what we see: nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, and then a faint haze. At that point, things start moving quickly. I’ll give this a few more hours and then move it to the counter top. 

After 24 hours, signs at last of active growth. Things will now move much more briskly.

BTW, note that the haze appears in spots over the entire bag, not localized to one region. That is the result of taking pains to mix the starter culture well as I added it, little by little.

Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 12:31 pm

A satisfying video of machining

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30 April 2022 at 10:14 am

Beat out that rhythm on your feet — podorythmie from Quebec

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This morning I chanced across an essay in the NY Times by Eric Boodman (gift link, no paywall), a reporter for STAT who has written for The Atlantic, Undark, and other publications.  His essay begins:

When I was 17 or so, I worked evenings at a dentist’s office. At first, it carried the thrill of a secret world: The office building was locked — just me and the janitors and the whir of the autoclave. Then it was stultifying. I worked for only two hours at a time, but those two hours stretched out endlessly, a canvas for my teenage dread and insecurity. The families I was calling with appointment reminders often mistook me for a machine. I was there to develop some kind of work ethic, but all I could think about was the awful, oobleck-like quality of time. I tried singing between calls. I looked for constellations in the ceiling tiles. What I remember working best — what still works, when I feel the trapped-bug flutter of a panic attack starting up — is foot percussion.

It’s a ubiquitous sound in Québécois traditional music, a galloping pattern that musicians beat out with their shoes while playing, giving them a Dick-Van-Dyke-like dynamism. If you wanted to be fancy and ethno-musicological, you’d call it podo-rythmie, from the Greek for “feet” and “rhythm.” If you wanted to be down home and colloquial, it would just be tapage de pieds, or foot tapping. In English, it’s sometimes referred to as “doing feet.” It’s the secret weapon that allows a lone fiddler to make a whole room get up and dance.

At my high school in downtown Montreal, my classmates were . . .

Continue reading (gift link, no paywall).

That sparked my curiosity, so I went to YouTube and first found a set of three short basic instructional videos (first, second, third), and then a video of a conversation (with foot-tapping) between two practitioners, one of whom (Alain Lamontagne) originated the term podorythmie. The conversation video was followed by a demonstration with the two playing (violin and harmonica), with rhythmic foot-tapping.

With those as background, I understood more of actual performance, such as this 4-minute clip:


Written by Leisureguy

30 April 2022 at 6:59 am

Posted in Daily life, Memes, Music, Video

Same walk as yesterday, but 41 PAI instead of 15

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Yesterday the time was 45:09 and average speed was 3.48 mph, but the big difference was in the measured heart rate: yesterday average was 110 bpm and max was 149 bpm. 

Still, the important thing is the effect on my fitness, not the numbers on the app.

Written by Leisureguy

29 April 2022 at 4:27 pm

The Revolt of the College-Educated Working Class

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Workers are gradually coming to realize that they cannot rely on corporate largesse. Norm Scheiber reports in the NY Times (gift link, no paywall):

Over the past decade and a half, many young, college-educated workers have faced a disturbing reality: that it was harder for them to reach the middle class than for previous generations. The change has had profound effects — driving shifts in the country’s politics and mobilizing employees to demand fairer treatment at work. It may also be giving the labor movement its biggest lift in decades.

Members of this college-educated working class typically earn less money than they envisioned when they went off to school. “It’s not like anyone is expecting to make six figures,” said Tyler Mulholland, who earns about $23 an hour as a sales lead at REI, the outdoor equipment retailer, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. “But when it’s snow storming at 11:30 at night, I don’t want to have to think, ‘Is the Uber home going to make a difference in my weekly budget?’”

In many cases, the workers have endured bouts of unemployment. After Clint Shiflett, who holds an associate degree in computer science, lost his job installing satellite dishes in early 2020, he found a cheaper place to live and survived on unemployment insurance for months. He was eventually hired at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, where he initially made about $17.50 an hour working the overnight shift.

And they complain of being trapped in jobs that don’t make good use of their skills. Liz Alanna, who holds a bachelor’s in music education and a master’s in opera performance, began working at Starbucks while auditioning for music productions in the early 2010s. She stayed with the company to preserve her health insurance after getting married and having children.

“I don’t think I should have to have a certain job just so I can have health care,” Ms. Alanna said. “I could be doing other types of jobs that might fall better in my wheelhouse.”

These experiences, which economic research shows became more common after the Great Recession, appear to have united many young college-educated workers around two core beliefs: They have a sense that the economic grand bargain available to their parents — go to college, work hard, enjoy a comfortable lifestyle — has broken down. And they see unionizing as a way to resurrect it.

Support for labor unions among college graduates has increased from 55 percent in the late 1990s to around 70 percent in the last few years, and is even higher among younger college graduates, according to data provided by Gallup. “I think a union was really kind of my only option to make this a viable choice for myself and other people,” said Mr. Mulholland, 32, who helped lead the campaign to unionize his Manhattan REI store in March. Mr. Shiflett and Ms. Alanna have also been active in the campaigns to unionize their workplaces.

And those efforts, in turn, may help explain an  . . .

Continue reading. (gift link, no paywall)

Written by Leisureguy

29 April 2022 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Business, Daily life, Unions

Green-Lentil Tempeh

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Just put a batch of green lentils in the incubator. I used 3 1/2 cups (measured before cooking) of green lentils, and next time I will just go with 4. I was worried about the capacity of my dishtowel and the bags I use, but 4 cups (measured before cooking) will not be a problem.

I cooked them for about 14-15 minutes, with no salt added. They are still somewhat firm, but done. I definitely did not want mushy. I drained them well and spread them on the dishtowel (with a second dish towel underneath — photo on left above; click to enlarge). I then used a crumpled paper towel to push around the hot lentils to absorb moisture. The paper towel did pick up a fair amount, and moisture also evaporated because of the heat of the lentils.

Once the lentils cooled, I picked the towel up by the corners and transferred the lentils to a large bowl. I added a little over 3 tablespoons of vinegar (white wine vinegar for this batch), mixed the vinegar and lentils well with a soft silicone spatula, and then added a packet of tempeh starter culture, a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. I have learned that to get even growth from the outset, the starter culture must be well dispersed through the batch of beans.

I bagged the lentils in a large Ziploc Fresh Produce bag — those are perforated ideally for tempeh cultivation. Using the lesson learned from the previous batch, I put the bagged lentils on a rack and spread the lentils evenly in the bag (photo at right above). I then placed this rack (with the bag on it) on top of the raised rack in my tempeh incubator, which I had already warmed to 88ºF/31ºC. 

Around this time tomorrow, the Rhizopus oligosporus should be well established and the batch can be removed from the incubator to a counter top (still on a raised rack to ensure good air circulation). Based on previous experience, this should be ready by midday Wednesday at the latest, though I might let it continue until Wednesday evening.

Small-scale farming is very satisfying. I have gradually refined through experience how I make tempeh, and now I can whip out a batch with very little effort.

After 24 hours

Exponential growth goes gradually, then suddenly. After 20 hours the bag of lentils looked the same as the photo above. But at 24 hours, it was clear that the fungus has been at work:

That slight haze shows that the fungus is well established.

I have to say I was relieved. You’ll note that the haze appears at spots all over surface, not localized to one region. That is the result of mixing the starter well into the batch of lentils. See also this post.

After 31 hours

I was very relieved to see the traces of mold after 24 hours, but then, as I point out in this post, that’s the way of exponential growth: nothing for a long time, and then boom! suddenly it takes off. Here’s a direct comparison, 24 hrs on the left, 31 hrs on the right

Bag photos are not quite aligned, but you get the idea.

After 46 hours

Now the tempeh is clearly going well. Some might stop it at this point, but I like to get at least 72 hours to get a good thickness of mycelium and a sturdy slab of tempeh.

In the above photo, I can’t tell whether I see traces of sporing (harmless grey patches) or if it’s just lentils incompletely covered. Assuming it’s the latter, another day of letting it grow should result in better coverage.

72 hours and done

This batch is fully done at 72 hours from start. The white on the right of the slab at the bottom is a problem of lighting. In actuality that part of the slab is the same color as the left.

I could have stopped this batch earlier, but I like to let the mycelium grow in fully. 

Written by Leisureguy

29 April 2022 at 11:15 am

Lemon Bay and the Maggard V3A.

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Grooming Dept’s Lemon Bay is a donkey-milk, duckfat, lamb-tallow shaving soap:

Aloe Vera Juice, Stearic Acid, Donkey Milk, Potassium Hydroxide, Duck Fat, Lamb Tallow, Castor Oil, Glycerin, Kokum Butter, Shea Butter, Cupuacu Butter, Sucrose Cocoate, Fragrance, Safflower Oil, Jojoba Oil, Coconut Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Acacia Senegal Gum, Kaolin Clay, Avocado Oil, Mango Butter, Grapeseed Oil, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Lactate, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum, Carnauba Wax, Allantoin, Chamomile Extract, Sea Buckthorn Extract. Flaxseed Oil, Sacha Inchi Extract. Silk Amino Acids and Tocopheryl Acetate.

It has a very pleasant fragrance — “Lemon, Bay Rum, Spices, and Cedarwood” — and it makes a lovely lather, with the able assistance of my Rooney Style 1 size 1. 

Maggard’s V3A head was wonderfully comfortable and efficient. The “A” (for “aggressive”) in the name refers to its efficiency, not to its mild feel. Three easy passes resulted in a perfectly smooth face, with never so much as the threat of a nick.

Myrsol’s Agua de Limón aftershave, with a squirt from the new bottle of Hydrating Gel, finished the shave on a good note. I used the last of the old bottle of Hydrating Gel yesterday, so it lasted me 46 weeks (and 2 days). In general I use Hydrating Gel with any aftershave splash but not with balms or milks or gels. However, a splash is far and away my most common aftershave choice.

The tea this morning is Murchie’s No. 10: “a mild, sweet combination of Gunpowder and Jasmine greens and Keemun and Ceylon black teas, perfect for any time of day.” I notice that it is currently on sale.

I also noticed this morning that the jalapeño & Fresno pepper ferment I started yesterday is well underway. When I tilt a bottle, I see a steady trickle of bubbles rising from the packed vegetables. Using a starter culture really kick-starts the fermentation.

Written by Leisureguy

29 April 2022 at 8:57 am

Posted in Caffeine, Shaving

Fermenting kale improves its nutritive value

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I’ve been fermenting things for a while now, and the results have been good. Now I think I must try fermenting kale. The videos below explain why.

The video has a lot of useful information. In the video, she quotes the abstract of a study. It flies by pretty fast, but it’s worth reading because it is not about kale, it’s about beet greens:

Total, soluble and insoluble oxalates were extracted and analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) following the preparation of kimchi using silver beet (Beta vulgaris var. cicla) stems and leaves. As silver beet contains high oxalate concentrations and consumption of high levels can cause the development of kidney stones 1n some people, the reduction of oxalate during preparation and fermentation of kimchi was investigated. The silver beet stems and leaves were soaked in a 10% brine solution for 11 h and then washed in cold tap water. The total, soluble and insoluble oxalate contents of the silver beet leaves were reduced by soaking in brine, from 4275.81 = 165.48 mg/100 g to 3709.49 ‡ 216.51 mg/100 g fresh weight (FW). Fermenting the kimchi for 5 days at 19.3 ÷ 0.8 °C in 5 L ceramic jars with a water airtight seal resulted in a mean 38.50% reduction 11 total oxalate content and a mean 22.86% reduction in soluble oxalates. The total calcium content was essentially the same before and after the fermentation of the kimchi (mean 296.1 mg/100 g FW). The study showed that fermentation of kimchi significantly (p < 0.05) reduced the total oxalate concentration in the initial mix from 609.32 ÷ 15.69 to 374.71 ÷ 7.94 mg/100 g FW in the final mix which led to a 72.3% reduction in the amount of calcium bound to insoluble oxalate.

Kale is among the greens lowest in oxalates (whereas beets and spinach are among the greens highest in oxalates), so fermentation of kale is not needed WRT oxalates. But it still interesting to do as a variation on kraut: using a different cruciferous leafy green. (I’ve previously fermented red cabbage to make kraut, red cabbage being noticeably more nutritious than green.) In a word, her warnings about oxalates in kale (and the other greens listed at the link) are overblown.

One thing she did not mention: it’s advisable to use bottled spring water for fermenting rather than tap water because the antibacterial treatment that tap water gets (chlorination, for example) can leave traces that inhibit the bacteria (lactobacillus) that does the fermenting. And that spring water should have salt added so that it is brine.

I’m definitely going to be fermenting some kale.

UPDATE: Note the additional tips in this follow-up video by the same person:

Written by Leisureguy

29 April 2022 at 7:16 am

“What happened when I replaced my morning coffee with a cup of warm water”

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Fast Company has a very interesting article by Etinyene Jimmy—Zapier. It may be behind a paywall. From the article:

here’s what happened.

  • I was able to focus better and for longer. Coffee gave me a burst of energy that often came with a crashing low after a few hours. With the switch to warm water, I was more consistently alert and attentive throughout the day—and I wasn’t completely exhausted after work.

  • No more daily migraines. My migraines wouldn’t go away on their own, and my doctors weren’t able to help (I had my eyes and my head checked!). On day five of switching to warm water, I noticed a difference in the frequency and intensity of the headaches. After the first month, the migraines were completely gone. P.S. I’m no medical doctor, so don’t quote me on this—but it can’t hurt to try, right?

  • I had more clarity at work. As a copywriter, I have to interpret client briefs, develop content strategies for brands, write, and edit content. This requires a lot of mental clarity, and it takes a toll. With the switch to warm water, I was on top of my game! I found myself remembering important details more, experiencing less anxiety about work, and managing my time and tasks better.

  • My attitude shifted. All of the above probably contributed to this last one, but wow, did my mood change. Not gonna lie: I was cranky when I drank coffee. With warm water, I had a more positive attitude, which not only helped my productivity, but also helped my relationships with my coworkers (no one wants an irritable colleague).

Later in the article:

1. Don’t go cold turkey on coffee

If your body is depending on coffee, I don’t recommend going cold turkey—mostly because it’ll be miserable, and you’ll be more likely to give up.

Start by reducing your intake. If you usually have three cups, switch to two. Then after a few days, try just one. Or maybe skip your right-when-you-wake-up coffee and wait until your workday starts. Then start skipping coffee completely on some days—maybe try one or two days a week without it. Do whatever works best, but baby steps is the way to go.

2. Make warm water part of your routine

As you start cutting out the coffee, also start adding warm water to your routine. The instinct to get your cup of coffee is always there—after all, it’s a drug you’re addicted to. You’ll need to be more intentional about remembering your warm water.

One way to do this is to habit stack: have your cup of warm water either just before or just after you brush your teeth in the morning. (Note: My mom claims it’s better to drink the warm water before brushing, but that didn’t feel good for me, so I have mine after.)

3. Slowly increase your warm water intake

Newsflash: water is good for you. So if you want to get your daily dose of eight cups all from your new warm water habit, be my guest. But you don’t have to go that far.

I drink 8 oz. (one cup) of warm water every morning. That’s it. When I started, I could barely finish half a cup; after all, when you’re used to coffee (or even cold water), warm water can feel a little off for your senses. Start small, and work your way up to an amount that feels good.

Also: you also don’t have to drink the entire cup at once! Just like some folks sip their morning coffee over the course of an hour, you can drag it out with the water too. Don’t overthink it.

4. Add some flavor

If you don’t like to drink cold water, you almost definitely won’t like to drink warm water. So don’t be afraid to add your own personal touch. If you add lemon to your regular water, do the same with your warm water. Or try cucumber or mint leaves or anything else that makes it easier for you to drink.

And remember, you didn’t like coffee the first time you tried it either. Give it a chance.

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 9:02 pm

Posted in Caffeine, Daily life, Health

Only 15 PAI after 2.6 miles in 45 minutes?!

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So it goes. But I’m suspicious of the reading. Take a look at the heart rates (above right), and then note the graph of the altitude along the walk route.

First, you’ll notice at the bottom of the image at the right that I maintained a steady cadence of around 112 steps/minute, and that my average speed was 3.48 mph, a decent clip. 

More important, note the altitude: I had a fairly good climb the first 13 minutes or so of the walk, then it was downhill for 13 minutes, the basically flat. 

So you would expect heart rate to rise during the climb, then hold steady or fall on the downhill and level parts of the walk. Instead, the heart rate held steady for the climb and the descent and only accelerated in the last 10 minutes of the walk, when it abruptly shot up and then held steady around 135 bpm.

I’ve seen this pattern before, and I think it is due to the exercise tracker not finding a good pulse reading until near the end of the walk.

Still, I got the exercise, and though it is only 15 PAI instead of (say) 43 PAI, that means that a week from now I’ll lose only 15 PAI and not 43 PAI. 

Even though the Amazfit Band 5 occasionally doesn’t pick up a good reading on my pulse rate, that has really been its only drawback, and I do very much like all the information it provides.

I particularly like the way it displays my route, which can be as a map (above) or satellite view (at left). 

And the PAI readings, for all their occasional misfiress, have been greatly motivating. As I have mentioned previously, this was a gift from The Eldest, and it has supercharged my exercise walks. The only thing comparable to this degree of motivational improvement was getting Nordic walking poles — and those were a suggestion from The Eldest. I had never heard of them (and in fact I first purchased trekking poles in error, not knowing the difference — which was the motivation for my post on Nordic walking).

Although I had been thinking of a 4-mile route, this 2.6 mile route seems pretty good and does deliver (usually) a good number of PAI points. And 45 minutes is a good duration. Greger’s Daily Dozen calls for 40 minutes of vigorous exercise, and despite the heart-rate readings above, I think this counts. And I know I’m getting at least the recommended amount of PAI.

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 4:43 pm

Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? And what can we do about it?

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Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes at

Have you ever worked with people who are not as good as they think? 

This finding won’t come as a surprise to most of us, but statistically, these people are more likely to be male than female. That’s right — men are typically more deceived about their talents than women are. And they are also more likely to succeed in their careers. That’s because one of the best ways to fool other people into thinking you’re better than you actually are is to fool yourself first.

I’m an organizational psychologist, and I use science and technology to predict and understand human behavior at work. One of the areas that fascinates me is the relationship between gender, personality and leadership and more specifically, how gender and personality shape our choices of leaders and how those leaders then impact organizations. Discussions of gender tend to focus on the under-representation of women in leadership, which, sadly, is more or less universal.

But a bigger problem is the fact that most leaders are incompetent. Indeed, whether in business or politics, incompetent leaders have negative effects on their followers and subordinates, causing low levels of engagement, trust and productivity and high levels of burnout and stress. Just google “my boss is” to see what most people think of their managers (and maybe, just maybe, you’ll feel a bit better about your manager). You’ll see words like “crazy,” “abusive,” “unbearable,” “toxic,” and other words that are too rude to repeat.

So, the main question we should be asking is not why there aren’t any more women leaders, but why do so many incompetent men become leaders? 

My research suggests there are three main reasons, and the first is our inability to distinguish between confidence and competence. Across cultures and countries, we tend to assume that confident people have more potential for leadership, but in any area of talent, including leadership, there is very little overlap between confidence (how good people think they are at something) and competence (how good they actually are at something).

The second reason is . . .

Continue reading.

Later in the article:

So, how do we stop incompetent men from becoming leaders?

The first solution is to follow the signs and look for the qualities that actually make people better leaders. There is a pathological mismatch between the attributes that seduce us in a leader and those that are needed to be an effective leader. If we want to improve the performance of our leaders, we should focus on the right traits. Instead of falling for people who are confident, narcissistic and charismatic, we should promote people because of competence, humility and integrity. Incidentally, this would also lead to a higher proportion of female than male leaders — large-scale scientific studies show that women score higher than men on measures of competence, humility and integrity. But the point is that we would significantly improve the quality of our leaders.

The second solution is to . . .

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 3:17 pm

Jalapeño & Fresno Pepper Giardiniera

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You may recall that, when I made my refrigerator jalapeño pickles, I mentioned adding Fresno peppers for a Christmasy pickle, and also that I thought it would be interesting to ferment them.

So today, I started a ferment. From the photo, starting at upper left and proceeding clockwise:

  • Russian red garlic — I peeled the cloves, the sliced them thinly using my Oxo garlic mandoline; I found that the whole cloves in the refrigerator pickle were too overpowering.
  • Ginger root — sliced thinly by hand and added to the bowl.
  • Jalapeños — sliced 4mm thick using Oxo large adjustable handheld mandoline
  • Daikon radish — I peeled this because its been in the fridge a while and then cut it into squat matchsticks (or elongated small dice)
  • Safawi dates — I thought a little sweetness might help; you could use any date, Safawi is just what I had. I pitted five and chopped them.
  • Red onion — chopped coarsely (into squares)
  • Nantes carrot — didn’t peel this, but did the same squat-matchstick/elongated-small-dice
  • Fresno peppers — I thought I’d use the mandoline again, but the walls were too thin, so I sliced them by hand.

The total weight was 1.5kg, so I used 30g grey sea salt (2%). I mixed the vegetables with a silicone spatula, sprinkled them with the salt, then mixed by hand, squeezing them a bit as I did. 

I had let a packet of my starter culture hydrate in 1/2 cup of spring water as I worked, so once everything was mixed and the salt dissolved and distributed, I added the culture, mixed well again with the spatula, and put the mix into three 1-liter canning jars, using my kraut tamper to pack it down in the jars. Once the jars were filled, I distributed the liquid left in the mixing bowl equally among the three jars (since it was probably culture-rich). Then I poured in enough spring water (never use tap water for fermentation) to cover the vegetables.

A transparent glass fermentation weight is sitting on the vegetables in the photos above. I didn’t really fill the jars with vegetables, but still is a good haul. They will sit in a rimmed quarter-sheet baking pan in case of overflow. 

I’m marking the calendar now for May 12. I’ll test them along the way, but two weeks seems like a reasonable time. I’m not sure this qualifies as a giardiniera, but it is a mix of fresh garden vegetables. 

May 1 turned out be long enough

I’m surprised that it went so fast — three days! — but when I tried some from one of the jars, it seemed fine. I did note that even after just a day I would get a good stream of bubbles emerging if I tilted the jar, so the lactobacilli took off quickly.

The peppers are much milder now that they’re fermented, and they have a good crunch. Here are two of the jars. Note how much vegetables have collapsed.

This morning I put one jar into the refrigerator and had some of the giardiniera with my lunch. Very pleasant. The photo above is of the other two jars, which still have their fermentation weight.

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 2:46 pm

Republican v. Democratic trust in scientists

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This is interesting. In 1990 Republicans had a greater trust of scientists than Democrats, but then Republican trust started to fall — and that’s prior to the pandemic, so that’s not the issue.

I wonder what caused that. Kevin Drum, in whose post the above chart appears (along with two others, on trust in the press and trust in medicine), comments:

Distrust of the scientific community is pretty obviously because the scientific community keeps producing inconvenient conclusions.

But is that it? A contributing factor might be ignorance of how science works and why, in general, one can trust scientific conclusions (while keeping in mind that they are open to refinement and revision).

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 12:51 pm

Pro Home Cooks does Mediterranean meal prep

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A relaxing video just to watch, and the food looks great:

Roasted Beet Dip
Turnip Pickles
Lamb Patties
Fresh Pita Bread
Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce
Mediterranean Salad

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 10:53 am

Blog drifting in a different direction

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I find myself less interested in political/news posts, though there are exceptions, so the blog — which basically reflects my own interests — is, I’ve noticed, changing directions somewhat. You may have noticed, but I wanted to say that I’m also aware of it.

I think there will probably be more food-related posts and videos, occasional music/jazz videos, and of course science and history as topics arise. But politics is now such a downer I’m de-emphasizing that in my own reading, and thus in the blog.

Written by Leisureguy

28 April 2022 at 10:49 am

Posted in Daily life, Writing

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