Charles Pillsbury III

Geek. Dad. Writer?

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Archive for July, 2008

Big breakfast ‘aids weight loss’ (BBC)

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I’m all up for trying this, and have been lately. While it’s tough to say if it’s working, I have noticed that I’m hungry in mid-afternoon less if I have a decent bit of food in the morning.

Breakfast really could be the most important meal of the day when it comes to losing weight, claims a researcher.
Over several months, obese women who ate half their daily calories first thing fared better than those eating a much smaller amount.
US researcher Dr Daniela Jakubowicz told a San Francisco conference having a small breakfast could actually boost food cravings.

[From BBC NEWS | Health | Big breakfast 'aids weight loss']

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July 31st, 2008 at 12:26 pm

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How to buy a camera lens (from Macworld)

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I think I’ve posted this one one of my sites, but don’t think it was here. Macworld has a nice little run down on picking out a camera lens for your DSLR (and it has nothing to do with “Mac” per se, so the silly Microsoft users can learn something as well).

If you purchased your digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) as part of a kit, you already have a basic lens that takes pretty good pictures. However, part of the attraction of this type of camera is that you can switch out lenses to get the best shot in any situation. From powerful zooms that get you up close to high-speed lenses that specialize in low-light settings, you have plenty of options for your second lens. While some lenses may go for more than you spent on your camera, you don’t have to pay a lot to get a great lens. The real question is: how do you find the right one for your needs?

[From Macworld | How to buy a camera lens]

I’ve bought into the “regular” lens phenomenon with the cheap 50mm 1.8f lens for our EOS Rebel XT. If you look to the right at my flickr feed almost any of the portrait shots you see were shot with this lens. The basic lenses I have, and like having, are that 50mm, the kit 18-55 zoom, and the 75-300mm. I’m looking to replace the 75-300mm just because it’s so old and the auto-focus is a bit dodgy (I’ve had it since the early 1990s and my days with a 35mm EOS Rebel.

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July 30th, 2008 at 12:26 pm

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The emotional tragedy of ebay

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This little piece ties interestingly into the great book “It’s All Too Much” by Peter Walsh.

According to this research, this is because of loss aversion, says Rick. “It is not because people are overplaying the positive [aspects of a possession].” Rather, we just become attached to objects we own — so much so that it takes a lot to convince us to part with them

[From Neuroscience of selling your stuff - Boing Boing]

I know I tie too much up in “stuff”, like old records and books (especially books), but now I’m working on separating myself from the “collectible” items I’ve accumulated over the years. I’m finally emotionally resolved to ditch some of it (farewell action figures) now I just need to get the big kid set up with my ebay information and get it all listed.

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July 30th, 2008 at 9:53 am

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“New” type of budget?

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I’m not sure this qualifies as “new” budgeting, but it’s at least a bit different than what you usually see.

When I was designing the structure of my categories, the first change I had to make was to get rid of a top-level category for insurance. Instead, I put insurance expenses where they belong: auto insurance under transportation, health insurance under medical, and homeowner/renter insurance under housing.

I also eliminated a top-level category for utilities. I put the power bill under housing. (I’d put heat, water, garbage, sewer, etc. there too, but those items are included in the rent where I live right now.) I put the cell phone and internet charges in a new top-level category for communications, and put postage there as well.

[From Refactor your budget categories | Wise Bread]

Now budgeting isn’t exactly our familial strong suite. Not that we can’t put together a budget, but sticking to it is difficult. As most who read here know, we are a largely single income household, though in recent years Alicia has done some off and on tutoring and teaching at a one-day-a-week fine arts program for homeschoolers. In addition to her small teaching income she has become a licensed Doula (labour and delivery coach) this year, which appears to be on track to bring in a few more dollars into the family coffers. That said, we’ve always been on the frugal side of things, and “budget” generally involves calculating if we have $5 or $10 after paying all the bills in a month.
I like the idea here of breaking things down into new categories. Housing including all of the costs of keeping up a house is good, but putting all the phone and internet costs into one category may be pure brilliance (though our budgeting hasn’t done much to break out into categories as much as it has enumerated each monthly bill no matter the category).

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July 30th, 2008 at 8:04 am

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Daring Fireball Linked List: Regarding ‘Wall-E’ and Kids

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My four-and-a-half year-old son loved it. Rapt attention the entire time. That large stretches of the film have no dialog whatsoever does not make it difficult for children to follow. If anything, I’ve found that Jonas is much better at following stories which are told cinematically than those which are told verbally. I’d go so far as to say it’s the best film for small children that Pixar has made since Toy Story 2.

The film is so good overall that it makes me wonder whether the Academy will have the balls to nominate it for Best Picture, rather than relegating it to the ridiculous and artificial “Animated” ghetto. The odds that there will be five better films released this year are slim

[From Daring Fireball Linked List: Regarding 'Wall-E' and Kids]

We loved Wall-E… I should probably say more about it some time.

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July 30th, 2008 at 6:52 am

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What are you? I’m Batman.

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Scientific American has a fascinating little piece on what it would take to “Be Batman”… though they seem to fail to take into account that Batman is a total freaking bada$$… it’s like arguing that a chubby pitcher can’t hit home runs, even if his name sounds like it would make a tasty candy bar.

How long would Bruce Wayne have to train to become Batman?
In some of the timelines you see in the comics, the backstory is he goes away for five years—some it’s three to five years, or eight years, or 12 years. In terms of the physical changes (strength and conditioning), that’s happening fairly quickly. We’re talking three to five years. In terms of the physical skills to be able to defend himself against all these opponents all the time, I would benchmark that at 10 to 12 years. Probably the most reality-based representation of Batman and his training was in Batman Begins.

[From Dark Knight Shift: Why Batman Could Exist--But Not for Long: Scientific American]

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July 16th, 2008 at 9:28 pm

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Wastefree community

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I found this video of a town in the hills of Japan very “sci-fi”… I can almost see a dystopian future where we’ve hosed society and have to recycle everything, making use of the limited resources we have left. Wait, did I just describe waterworld?

The Mayor of Kamikatsu, a small community in the hills of eastern Japan, has urged politicians around the world to follow his lead and make their towns “Zero Waste”.

He told BBC News that all communities could learn from Kamikatsu, where residents have to compost all their food waste and sort other rubbish into 34 different categories.

Residents say the scheme has prompted them to cut down on waste generally and food waste in particular.

If the policy spread, it would reduce the amount of food waste, and so take some of the pressure off high food prices.

[From BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Living in a world without waste]

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July 16th, 2008 at 4:35 pm

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The mediocre malaise

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Stossel again. This time on the current economic woes (not a depression, and not quite yet a recession… though approaching bear market).

… A recession is defined as two quarters of negative economic growth. We haven’t even had one quarter of negative growth.

Yes, growth has slowed, and many people are suffering because of falling home prices and higher food and energy prices. These are real problems, but watching TV, you’d think we were in a recession so severe it must be compared to the Great Depression.

So let me stop here to repeat that. We are not in a depression. We are not even in recession. Get a grip, guys. We ought to point out that whatever today’s problems bring, we are far away from reliving the Depression.

As Amity Shlaes points out in her book “The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression” — which has just been released in paperback — by November 1933, unemployment had skyrocketed to over 23 percent. Think about that: 5 percent unemployment today vs. 23 percent during the Depression. Amidst today’s talk of stock market “collapse,” remember that during the Depression, the Dow plummeted to 90, a loss of nearly 75 percent of its previous value. “This downturn is to the Depression as a drizzle is to Katrina,” says Shlaes, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “In the Depression, America confronted deflation. There literally wasn’t enough money. People made their own scrip, Monopoly money, to pay their bills. In Utah, they made a currency called the Vallar. Today, we are in an inflation. If this period is like anything, it is like the 1970s.”

I’m also not saying there are no economic problems today. But today’s problems are no excuse for reporters to make glib comparisons to the Great Depression.

[From RealClearPolitics - Articles - Dire News from My Colleagues]

I’ve been trying to get my son to read War of the Worlds (stick with me here this may make some sense later), because I want to follow it up with the original radio drama and the fantastic look at the cultural phenomenon associated with it as analyzed and discussed by Jad and Robert of RadioLab (one of the BEST audio shows out there… go subscribe to the podcast now). The RadioLab discussion includes a talk on how you get much the same sort of gloom and doom hype from your local evening news these days, and how much of the practice can be tracked to how effective the War of the Worlds broadcast was because… well… hype “sells.” This is why you hear the teasers “what’s in your drinking water that could KILL you! tonight at 11″, and probably a good part of why the perception one could get from the major media is that people are starving in the streets for lack of employment/food/money, when the reality is that times are tougher, budgets are tighter, and still we (even the US Poor) still live better than 80% of the world’s population (and more than our grand-parents had during the depression).

I am, by nature, skeptical of anything somebody in the media, politics, corporate culture… and almost anything that could be construed as “leadership” position might say.

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July 12th, 2008 at 9:05 am

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Emergency Menu from the Hillbilly Housewife

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A) I love that this site is called hillbillyhousewife.com

B) This isn’t the most vegetarian friendly emergency menu, but

C) it’s a good starting point to look at what could be done on a smaller budget

I’ve seen various places around the web claim that in an emergency you can feed your family for only $10 or $20 a week. While I appreciate their intentions, I have noticed that they all assume you have certain supplies already on hand. In my experience this isn’t always the case. Forty-five dollars will seem outrageously abundant to some, while it will seem miniscule to others. It is the smallest amount I was able to come up with that will provide enough supplies to an empty kitchen to feed an entire family for a week. The servings are ample and a few adjustments allow you to increase the quantities from 4 servings to 6. Newly added nutritional information makes it clear that except for sodium, these recipes are nutritious and healthy. They are low in fat and cholesterol, high in protein and rich in fiber. To reduce the sodium you can use half as much salt and bouillon as called for in the recipes, and purchase store-brand reduced sodium canned vegetables instead of the regular variety.

[From Low Cost Emergency Menu]

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July 10th, 2008 at 1:14 pm

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Linked article: Chad Perrin: SOB » ACLU advocates banning “assault typewriters”

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This is a quote from the comments on the ACLU site, though I’m pulling it from Chad Perrin’s site so I’m quoting a quote now. Either way, some good stuff on the SC’s vote on the 2nd amendment.

A “collective” is a group of individuals. How can a collective have a right that the individuals in that collective don’t have? Which of the members of the group gets to exercise that right on behalf of the others? Who decides who that person is?

What about the First Amendment? It talks about freedom of the press, and “the right of the people peaceably to assemble.” That’s the same “the people” as in the Second Amendment, which you’ve asserted is a “collective right.” Maybe we should limit freedom of speech to registered press members (who will, of course, be required to store their typewriters in a disassembled and locked state, so that they are not able to exercise that collective right at a moment’s notice). We’ll take their fingerprints, run a background check, and make them demonstrate competency at composing headlines. Of course, no press will be allowed to operate within Washington D.C. — to keep illegal typewriters off the streets.

[From Chad Perrin: SOB » ACLU advocates banning "assault typewriters"]

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July 10th, 2008 at 8:48 am

Posted in Misc