Saturday, August 29, 2009

Prolonging the life of Berries

The strawberries fared best when I heated them at 125 degrees for 30 seconds. In two samples from different sources, this treatment gave a total of 1 moldy berry out of 30, where the untreated baskets had 14. I also treated some bruised berries, including one with a moldy tip. After 24 hours none were moldy. The tip mold not only hadn’t spread, it had disappeared.

I tried the same treatment, 125 degrees for 30 seconds, on raspberries and blackberries, and got the same good results. There were many fewer moldy berries in the heated samples.

For thicker-skinned blueberries, a Canadian study recommended a 140-degree treatment for 30 seconds. I tested it twice, with samples of around 150 berries each time. That heat took the bloom off. It melted the natural wax that gives the berries their whitish cast, and left them midnight blue. It also cut the number of moldy berries from around 20 per sample to 2.

-Harold McGee, New York Times

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How to Order off a Menu

Scratch off the appetizers and entrees that are most like dishes you’ve seen in many other restaurants, because they represent this one at its most dutiful, conservative and profit-minded. The chef’s heart isn’t in them.

Scratch off the dishes that look the most aggressively fanciful. The chef’s vanity — possibly too much of it — spawned these.

Then scratch off anything that mentions truffle oil.

Choose among the remaining dishes.

-Frank Bruni, New York Times

I'm on a Boat

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The GOP's Misplaced Rage

"Until conservatives once again hold Republicans to the same standard they hold Democrats, they will have no credibility and deserve no respect. They can start building some by admitting to themselves that Bush caused many of the problems they are protesting."

- Leading Conservative Bruce Bartlett in The Daily Beast

More excellent analysis:
"Finally, conservatives have an absurdly unjustified view that Republicans have a better record on federal finances. It is well-known that Clinton left office with a budget surplus and Bush left with the largest deficit in history. Less well-known is Clinton’s cutting of spending on his watch, reducing federal outlays from 22.1 percent of GDP to 18.4 percent of GDP. Bush, by contrast, increased spending to 20.9 percent of GDP. Clinton abolished a federal entitlement program, Welfare, for the first time in American history, while Bush established a new one for prescription drugs."

"According to the CBO, federal taxes will amount to just 15.5 percent of GDP this year. That’s 2.2 percent of GDP less than last year, 3.3 percent less than in 2007, and 1.8 percent less than the lowest percentage recorded during the Reagan years. If conservatives really believe their own rhetoric, they should be congratulating Obama for being one of the greatest tax cutters in history."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Palin's "Death Panels" called 'nuts' by Republican Senator Isakson from Georgia

"Besides the chilling prospect of 21st-century America morphing into a cold war state — with Sheryl Crow in charge of toilet-paper rationing — there are also delusional fears about the government tapping bank accounts and convening “death panels,” as Sarah Palin dubbed them, to exploit the cost-saving potential of euthanizing the old and disabled.

At his more placid town hall in Portsmouth, N.H., on Tuesday, the president had to explain that he did not intend to “pull the plug on grandma.” He said that the specter of death panels had spun out of a proposal from a Republican, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, who has long espoused helping Medicare patients learn about options for care at the end of their lives. In an interview with The Washington Post on Monday, Isakson diagnosed Palin’s interpretation of his suggestion as “nuts.”

-Maureen Dowd, NY Times

More from Sen. Isakson:

In the health-care debate mark-up, one of the things I talked about was that the most money spent on anyone is spent usually in the last 60 days of life and that's because an individual is not in a capacity to make decisions for themselves. So rather than getting into a situation where the government makes those decisions, if everyone had an end-of-life directive or what we call in Georgia "durable power of attorney," you could instruct at a time of sound mind and body what you want to happen in an event where you were in difficult circumstances where you're unable to make those decisions.

This has been an issue for 35 years. All 50 states now have either durable powers of attorney or end-of-life directives and it's to protect children or a spouse from being put into a situation where they have to make a terrible decision as well as physicians from being put into a position where they have to practice defensive medicine because of the trial lawyers. It's just better for an individual to be able to clearly delineate what they want done in various sets of circumstances at the end of their life.

How did this become a question of euthanasia?

I have no idea. I understand -- and you have to check this out -- I just had a phone call where someone said Sarah Palin's web site had talked about the House bill having death panels on it where people would be euthanized. How someone could take an end of life directive or a living will as that is nuts. You're putting the authority in the individual rather than the government. I don't know how that got so mixed up.

And this from Ezra Klein:

"Encouraging Medicare to cover end-of-life planning just isn't a partisan issue. Nor is it an effort to make anyone shuffle off the mortal coil before they're ready. It's an attempt, as Isakson explained yesterday, to ensure that individuals make their own decisions when they're of sound mind and body, rather than leaving those questions to grieving spouses, doctors who fear a malpractice lawsuit or accountants. It's a good policy, and all the legislators supporting it deserve praise for trying to encourage an adult conversation about death. It's a shame that it's suddenly become polarized."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fool's Errands

A thing
cannot be
enough times:
this is the
rule of dogs
for whom there
are no fool's
errands. To
loop out and
come back is
good all alone.
It's gravy to
carry a ball
or a bone.

- Kay Ryan
from The New Yorker
August 10 & 17, 2009

Health Care Rationing already exists.

Health Care Rationing already exists. Private insurance bureaucrats decide everyday what treatments are covered and not covered. Those decisions aren't based on medical science or effectiveness; they are based on profit.

Why is MediCare so popular with seniors? Because it doesn't ration treatment based on profit. It's pretty simple - give everyone, not just seniors, the option for public insurance.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Network Marketing = Pyramid Scheme

Below is the text of an online chat I had with a Mona Vie Customer Sales Rep after trying unsuccessfully to buy the product without having a sponsor. Granted, I was a little flirtatious, but I was single at the time and trying to keep from getting bored.

me: i found you on the web, not through a distributor. i would like to join but your website asks for a sponsor id. i am my own sponsor as my own research led me to your site. 

You are now speaking with Cathy of Autoship / Distributor Support.

me: hi cathy

Cathy: Welcome to Live Support, and thank you for choosing MonaVie. My name is Cathy, and I'll be assisting you.

me: i am my own sponsor as no one told me about you. i found you on my own

me: how do i signup

Cathy: we can find you a sponsor.

me: okay, but i should really be my own sponsor.

Cathy: What is your zip code?

me: 90402

me: why can't i join on my own. you will be giving the sponsor credit for something they didn't do

Cathy: This is how it works. It is a binary system. Each person who joins the company has a "sponsor" or someone they are under. Once you sign up as a distributor you will also be able to sign up people under you, making you their sponsor.

Cathy: I have an awesome sponsor in California for you.

Cathy: They will help you get started. I will have them call you. Unless you would like me to sign you up right now.
me: how many total distributors are there with mona vie?

Cathy: 85000 active distributors
me: in california and in the U.S?

Cathy: MonaVie is in 5 different countries.

me: 85000 is a lot..

me: are you in CA

me: if you sign me up right now, would you be my sponsor?

Cathy: Corporate is 
located in Utah.

Cathy: I would love to sponsor you. However, I work for corporate but I can put you under a great sponsor.

me: who's the sponsor?

me: do you have a sponsor?

Cathy: Are you trying to sign me up? You've caught the spirit of MonaVie already.

me: of course i am

me: what do you say?

Cathy: :)

me: great, so you'll be my first sign up - my right hand woman, so to speak

Cathy: You'll do awesome in this company. Let's put you under an awesome group.

me: great, so can we sign up your parents and siblings too

me: i'm a great guy, 5'11, athletic, handsome, well-educated, and single

Cathy: My mom is single.

me: what about you?

Cathy: Age?

Cathy: nope, sorry. i'm taken already

me: 34

me: any sisters?

me: or girlfriends?

Cathy: Too young for you. Anyway, back to business.

Cathy: Lets get you signed up.

me: your mom is too young for me - wow, how old are you? there are child labor laws you know

Cathy: No, my sisters. Let me get your information and we'll sign you up.

me: how about your girlfriends?

me: i like utah

Cathy: Let me get your information and we'll sign you up.

me: my birthday is march 21 and i liked the movie borat, what more info do you need?

me: first day of spring is a cool birthday you know

Cathy: I'll have someone call you if you will give your phone number

me: can they email me

Cathy: okay, that's fine.

me: that's right, do you like poems

me: do you have a photo?

me: i like to see who i'm dealing with at corporate?

Cathy: Thanks. I'll have someone email you tomorrow Wessss 
. I hope you turn out to be
the Besssst.

Cathy: And yes, I do like poetry.

Cathy: Have a great night.

me: that's what my momma always said

me: what's your favorite poem?

Cathy: It has been my pleasure assisting you today. Thank you for contacting MonaVie.

We appreciate your continued support. Please contact Distibutor Support again with future needs.

me: i like billy collins and rumi and hafiz myself - oh, and pablo neruda

me: that looks like a copy and paste, where's the personal touch cathy

Cathy: Enjoy your day! Goodbye.

Cathy: :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

A refreshing, unique, and extremely wise story on love, relationships, and happiness.

"I don't love you anymore," my husband said, but I survived the sucker punch." from "Those Aren't Fighting Words, Dear" by Laura A. Munson, New York Times.