Infinite recursion

2010/03/10 at 09:29

This (more or less) spam message that I received this morning makes my head hurt:

Wait, Wait…Don’t Eat Me!

2010/02/03 at 09:40

As a huge fan of NPR’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, I thoroughly enjoyed this parody of the last Wait Wait! broadcast during the zombie apocalypse.

Dieting and human behavior

2010/01/25 at 09:21

I just finished my first week on WeightWatchers online. I have followed the WeightWatchers plan in the past to lose weight, and I have to say, I prefer the current plan–the online version–over the previous plans.
The first reason is the online part–in the past, the WW plan focused on attending your weekly meeting. I’m an introvert and I hated the meetings; I never wanted to share my experiences, and I felt that didn’t get much from others’ experiences. With the online plan, I get all the advice, and the diet and exercise tracking using an online and iPhone app with no expectation of attending meetings.
The second, and bigger, reason reason I like the new plan is how you track your eating. Everything you eat is tracked as points, which you can look up in the apps (a point is roughly 60-70 calories, but also takes fat and fiber content into consideration). That’s the way WW has done it for several years. With the current plan, though, you get X points per day, plus 35 weekly points to use whenever you like during the week (plus, exercise earns you more weekly points).
Most days last week, I followed the plan really well, but I went over my daily points a little two or three days. But with the weekly points, that was no problem. And on Saturday, we visited my mother-in-law’s and aunt’s house in San Antonio, which is always an eating challenge: they keep lots of sweets and the meals aren’t often very dietetic. On Saturday, I ate better than I have in the past, but I still ate some cake and we ordered pizza for lunch. I consumed about 50% more than my daily points! On a ‘traditional’ diet, that would have been a failed day, but I had enough weekly points left to cover it. Again, no biggie.
By the end of the week, I’d used all my weekly points and a few of my activity-earned points, so I stayed on the program; more importantly, I lost some weight and felt successful.

The Angel Gabriel…and his life partner Bruce

2009/12/22 at 20:34

Check out the angels in this Christmas display in our neighborhood
The Angel Gabriel...and his life partner Bruce
(Not to mention Santa Claus at the manger)

Quote of the day

2009/12/01 at 12:59

Simple ignorance is a curable condition, stupidity is a misfortune, willful ignorance is a character flaw.


Public service announcement: how to get skunk odor off dogs

2009/11/24 at 10:09

I assume it works for people, too, but fortunately, I haven’t had the opportunity to try it. A former coworker’s dogs were sprayed the other day, and she was not aware of the state of the art in skunk smell removal until I shared it with her. So, here’s my public service announcement for anyone else who might need it.

Several years ago, I was walking our two dogs off-leash in a field near our house before dawn. In the dark, I could see them chasing a cat a hundred yards away (I didn’t worry; they’d never caught one before, and if they did, they’re cat friendly). Then, they suddenly stopped chasing the cat. Odd, I thought. Then, they started running back to me. When they got near, I realized it was no cat. They smelled lovely.
I was raised in the country and have dealt with skunk spray a few times; we always bathed our dogs in tomato juice, which didn’t work very well. However, when the spraying happened a few years ago, I thought: it’s been 20 years since I dealt with this, and now we have the Internet; let’s see if there’s a better way of getting rid of the skunk smell.
Sure enough, the current state of the art is a bath with a mixture of peroxide, baking soda and soap or shampoo. Full details here: Skunk Odor Removal.
I can vouch for this method. We bathed our two dogs about three times the day they got sprayed, and the smell was completely gone. It stripped every bit of oil out of their fur, so they were fuzzy messes, but that was a small price to pay.

…like the aurora borealis with scissors

2009/11/17 at 08:33

Matthew Baldwin posted a perfect description of children. It’s short, so I’ll just quote it in full here:

I glanced up from my laptop to find my five-year-old son standing nearby, gripping a bottle of Elmer’s glue. He had removed the cap and was holding the container upside down, watching, fascinated, as the viscous white substance drooled into a ever-growing pool on the kitchen floor.
“What are you doing?!” I barked. “Put that down!”
He jumped, startled, and then hastily complied. After dropping the bottle–still uncapped, still upended–into the utility drawer from whence it had come, he slammed the drawer shut and took two steps backwards, thus positioning himself in the center of the pool. His socks began soaking up yet more glue, adding to the astonishing quantity already smeared on his shirt and hands.
“Nooo, arrgh!” I yelled, sprinting to the drawer. By the time I had jerked it open an entire corner had become an impromptu lagoon, swamping ballpoint pens, rubber bands, pads of Post-It notes, and unused gift cards. I grabbed a handful of paper towels and thrust them into the morass; a moment later, when I withdrew the wad, half of the contents of the drawer came with it.
Now thoroughly exasperated, I turned to find the kid, already writing a legendary harangue in my head. He was few feet away, nonchalantly drinking orange juice. Just as my eyes settled on him, the plastic cup suddenly slipped from his grasp. It hit the floor and spun as it rebounded, splashing juice everywhere.
Yes: he’d managed to drop the cup despite having hands coated in glue.
Occasionally parenthood offers moments of religious awe, when the anger and frustration melt away and are replaced by reverence, a profound appreciation for the primal forces of chaos so poorly contained within your progeny.
Children are a marvel, like the aurora borealis with scissors.

The economics of Halloween

2009/11/02 at 10:13

From a clever Consumerology blog post about the economics of halloween:

It seems to me that trick-or-treating is the first job that most of us have. Sure, it’s only one day a year, but kids put forth the effort to get dressed, make the commute, and cold call perfect strangers. They get paid (in candy or, cruelly, all manners of non-candy including fruit and pencils) and then experience the indignity of losing some of that income to “the man” – in this case, parents with the misguided notion that they deserve a piece of the action.

Shocking vulgarity

2009/07/24 at 10:57

This week, several blogs I follow have linked to Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest Atlantic article about the psychology of overconfidence. it’s an interesting article, but overconfidence is not the subject of this post.
In the article, Gladwell uses Bear Stearns’ former CEO Jimmy Cayne as a case study in over-confidence, and he includes some quotes from Cayne, such as:

The audacity of that prick [treasury secretary Geithner] in front of the American people announcing he was deciding whether or not a firm of this stature and this whatever was good enough to get a loan. Like he was the determining factor, and it’s like a flea on his back, floating down underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, getting a hard-on, saying, “Raise the bridge.” This guy thinks he’s got a big dick. He’s got nothing, except maybe a boyfriend.

I am amazed that someone who had reached the pinnacle of corporate America would be so vulgar–maybe in private, but he would certainly have the sense to tone it down for an interview. But then, maybe Cayne’s not caring about his vulgarity is just another point in Gladwell’s case about Cayne’s over-confidence. Or maybe I just don’t get out much.

Interesting consumer-oriented blog

2009/07/24 at 10:30

I’m a huge fan of Consumerist; it’s usually the first feed I usually check when I open my feed reader. Today, I ran across another interesting consumer blog: Consumerology. I’m a little wary of the organization that sponsors the blog, The Center for Cost-Effective Consumerism, since it’s underwritten by Express Scripts and has the following vision statement:

The Center for Cost-Effective Consumerism gives plan sponsors access to a unique view of what works and what doesn’t when trying to inspire positive change in the way members use the pharmacy benefit.

So, I’ll read their healthcare-related posts with a little wariness, but the academics associated with the Center seem to be very reputable, and at least their blog posts that are not related to healthcare seem to be unbiased.