Thursday, May 19, 2011

A calorie is a calorie is a calorie... NOT!

The great Richard Feynman lends his formidable talent and name to debunking certain misconceptions in the nutrition establishment. In particular, that the possibility of metabolic advantage resulting from low carb diets is in fact consistent with thermodynamics.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A Low-Carb "Aha" Moment

One of the blogs I follow is that of Dr. Michael Eades, one of the authors of "Protein Power". That was the low-carb diet I used back in 1999 to drop 25 lbs to get close to my ideal weight. His post yesterday talks a bit about Gary Taubes' new book, "Why We Get Fat". He talks about insulin resistance in the article, and that would appear to be a lot of what WWGF is about as well.
I used to wonder how it was that I could eat a very full low-carb meal, and still be hungry within an hour. Now I have my answer. To get the longer version, read Dr. Mike's post, or better yet, Gary's book, but I guess we could describe the problem as differential insulin resistance. My liver is more insulin resistant than my fat cells. So when my blood sugar starts to drop, there is still too much insulin in my bloodstream to allow fat to be released from my fat cells to feed me. So, even with a winter's storehouse of extra fat, I am hungry.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Science as a career choice.

By way of a Slashdot posting, I came across an interesting article. Why aren't there more women in science?
To summarize it for you, the key point is that women are smarter than men when it comes to listening to their elders and choosing a career. The article discusses what work in science looks like in the real world, and I can't argue with it, it is pretty much spot on, having followed a similar career trajectory to what was described. I'm lucky in that I got out during my first post-doc, rather than waiting until I was denied tenure for the second time.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Cookware to last on the cheap.

I like to cook, but I share my kitchen with a number of other cooks whose technique is different from mine. What that means to me on a practical level is that my cookware needs to be really durable, and tolerant of high heat and rough treatment. Around here, non-stick coatings get scraped and burned off, and anodized aluminum coatings are stripped away. So I've given up on fragile cookware. Cast iron, carbon steel, and stainless steel are now my choices. Well-seasoned cast-iron and carbon steel provide an excellent non-stick coating. And if the coating becomes, well, sticky, I can always re-season.

So, to the title of this post. I've got two anodized aluminum woks that are kind of sticky. Noodles and rice stick to them. I wanted a carbon steel wok, but I couldn't really justify it while the woks I have are still serviceable, if not ideal. I can get a 14in carbon steel wok for about $20 online, not including shipping or tax, which is pretty reasonable, but still enough to slow me down. I was driving along and saw a thrift store, and decided to check it out. Wow. 14in carbon steel wok with wooden handles for $4. 9in cast iron skillet for $3. Why could I find such a deal? They were rusty. Someone who didn't know how to care for steel and iron scrubbed off any seasoning, and they rusted. I took them home, scrubbed off the rust with some abrasive powder, rinsed and dried well, and seasoned them. I won't tell you how to season them, a web search will provide more links than you know what to do with. For half the cost of a new pan, I got two.

Sometimes the old ways are not only cheaper, but better than the new ways.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Double Edge Shaving Update, 3 years into it.

I don't know why it came to mind, but it seems it's time for an update on my shaving experiences. You can find all my posts on the topic here. To recap, a bit more than three years ago, I became interested in simplifying. When cartridge razors got to five blades, it became ridiculous enough to me to react. I bought a used Gillette Superspeed on EBay, one of those butterfly opening ones, and picked up blades at Walmart. When I moved to Washington, the box the Gillette was in got misplaced, and I bought a Merkur Classic, with comb edge for heavy beards. I also order a box of 100 Turkish Derby double edge blades for $25 online.

Now, three years later, I still have some Gillette Fusion blades that are now over 3 years old I haven't used. I'm just finishing up the box of 100 Derbies. (I have about 10 blades left.) The Gillette Superspeed reappeared. Once when I was shaving with it, it opened up a little bit, not enough for me to see, but enough to make the shave be a bit bloody. Since then I've stuck with the Merkur. My technique has gotten to the point where shaving cuts are rare (maybe once every couple of months), and shaving with the Gillette Fusion is by comparison uncomfortable. I use it once in a while, since I have the blades, and I figure sometimes I just want to shave quickly without being so careful. It's not much quicker, though.

I've been using Trader Joe's Honey Mango Shaving Cream. This is as much because my family objects to any unfamiliar scents, and they are used to this one. In the shower, I spread the cream on with my hands. At the sink, I wash my face and head with hot water, and then spread on the shaving cream with a shaving brush. I use many short strokes, stroking the same area repeatedly until the blade slides smoothly across my skin. I used to try to keep track of how long I had been using a blade. Now, when the blade feels like it is pulling to much, I change it out.

The cost savings have been considerable. I have a heavy beard, and I shave my head nearly as often as my face. I've probably saved about $250 over the last 3 years, maybe more. If I get lazy, and let my beard go a couple of days, it's OK now, the double-edge doesn't mind, and doesn't get clogged the way the cartridge blade would. This experiment has been a decided success.