July 31, 2006

House or Bertie?

House or Bertie?

Originally uploaded by Dr Momentum.

A prof here put a picture of House (played by actor Hugh Laurie) on

his door. I added the speech balloon with a phrase you might hear from

the mouth of another Hugh Laurie role — that of Bertie Wooster.

Slight difference in the characters, if you’re familiar with PG

Wodehouse’s work.

If you’re not, then go read some. He’s not as… well, smart as House.

But a heckuvalot friendlier.

Posted by James at 4:00 PM | Comments (9)

July 29, 2006

Buzzard Taps

Buzzard Taps

Originally uploaded by Dr Momentum.

On tap that day in Westport, MA.

Pale Ale, Hefeweizen, Black Ale and a Pilsner.

The pilsner came home with me in a growler, and then to Bob’s house where we consumed it in earnest. Nothing like the taste of a fresh pilsner to cut through the heat of a sweltering day.

The people at Buzzards Bay (Westport, MA) are pretty cool.

The guy pulling the taps said he had had a choice to do this job or study at a university in Beirut, Lebanon. In retrospect, I think he feels he’s glad not to be in Beirut right now, having to be evacuated.

Posted by James at 11:36 AM | Comments (1)

July 28, 2006

Rushed Shotgun

Click to enlargeWe’re out the door! Have a good weekend!

Posted by James at 5:41 AM | Comments (5)

July 26, 2006

GI Key to Diet?

“GI” here stands for “glycemic index.” The glycemic index of a food is a metric for how that food affects your blood glucose level.

Carbohydrates (sugars and starches) have long been known to cause a spike in your blood glucose level. Your body responds to this spike by producing the hormone insulin, which changes the way your body metabolizes the carbohydrates. There are a number of ways that this process can go wrong, but even in normal metabolism, hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) are undesirable.

Apparently, your body really likes to have relatively flat blood sugar curves. I’m not an expert on why that is, but I know that chronic highs and lows can actually cause you to have health problems later. The reasons are somewhat mysterious, but your body seems to try to adjust to the spikes (and the lows) and the consequences of that can leave you less able to regulate blood sugar, and that leads to a number of problems that are difficult to detect if you don’t know you have a problem with blood sugar.

I didn’t intend this post to be an extended over simplification of blood sugar regulation; the above is just a preamble that leads into an interesting article in New Scientist about glycemic index.

A diet that scores low on the “glycaemic index” helps overweight people lose body fat while also reducing levels of “bad” cholesterol that contributes to the risk of heart attack and stroke, a study shows.

Also, the high-carb, low-GI diet was better when it came to lowering cholesterol.

I like having more information that I can use to adjust what I eat, because my family history tells me that eventually I will have to worry about cholesterol. But I don’t have a good handle on what is a high-GI food vs. a low-GI food. I’ve read a few lists of food, but I haven’t seen any easy-to-follow recommendations about making changes to improve a low calorie diet by lowering the overall GI of the foods you’re eating. I just looked, and NutritionData.com may have a decent database.

Taking an “everything in moderation” approach, I wonder if there are good, small changes to make at first. I already eat a lot of whole fiber carbs and things like veggies, peanuts and low fat yogurt. It’s possible I’m already on this diet.

Anyone out there becoming more mindful of glycemic index?

Posted by James at 5:38 PM | Comments (4)

Summing Up Iraq

As long as naysayers focus on the violence, bloodshed, a lack of stability, terror attacks, no clear plan, the loss of American lives, billions of dollars being spent, and a government that wants us out, Iraq is going to seem like a failure.

Posted by James at 2:08 PM | Comments (4)

July 25, 2006

Old Country Stabbing

A dishwasher from the Dartmouth Old Country Buffet is accused of stabbing the manager of that restaurant to death.

Bizarre violent and tragic local story.

The accused temporarily diverted attention from himself with a “he went that-a-way” bit of subterfuge:

Jones told police that Valerie Oranski, 39, of Middleborough, had been stabbed with a steak knife Saturday morning at the Dartmouth restaurant by a masked intruder. Jones came running out of the bathroom with blood on his hands and face and told coworkers he saw an attacker flee out a backdoor.
Posted by James at 7:58 AM


I got the word “stupidentally” added to the Urban Dictionary.


Occurring unexpectedly or unintentionally after doing something so stupid, careless or negligent that it should have been obvious that you would run into trouble.

The officer stupidentally shot three other officers while trying to stop a pit bull that was attacking them.
Posted by James at 7:36 AM | Comments (5)

July 24, 2006

Gorey Weekend

Gorey House


Friday looked like bad weather, but turned out to be pretty good. We switched plans because of uncertainty and ended up in Yarmouthpart to visit the Edward Gorey House.

If you know my family, you know we’re big fans of Edward Gorey, who died in 2000 but was a resident of Massachusetts famous for his artwork, his stories and macabre sense of humor. (see The Gashlycrumb Tinies for an example).

See some pictures from our visit to Edward Gorey House starting here in my photostream. Maggie and the kids did had some fun with art after our visit, as reported on Pandora’s Tea Room.

After the Gorey House, we drove south to Hyannis and took a quick tour through the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory. No pictures were allowed there, presumably for reasons of industrial espionage. So plans of setting up a rival factory were thwarted.

We walked the corridor (which, despite the ban on photos, can be seen here) and saw how chips are made. The kids were most excited by the free samples at the end of the self-guided tour.


On Saturday, Cousin Bob had his pig roast. We got there after noon, and by that time there were already plenty or ribs and other stuff prepared. But they had many pounds of ribs, loin, hams and pork butt still in the smokers. Bob had prepared enough to feed an army, with Don’s help. I didn’t take any pictures (a stupid oversight) but, then again, I was covered in pork fat much of the time, which does not mix well with electronics.

Moose Leg LampI volunteered to shred pork for sandwiches, which took me about an hour on one huge piece of meat. It was a loin, and I was later informed by experts that I should have used pork butt. But there was so much of it all around, I was inundated.

As the kids swam in the pool, we ate, and I was rewarded for my pork-shredding efforts by being allowed to pick the bone of the loin like a caveman (picture may be forthcoming).


Sunday, Maggie wanted to see the Pow Wow that was visiting Somerset this weekend. I don’t have many pictures from that, because pictures were only allowed for part of the time we were there.

After the rain drove us away from that event, we took a swing through a antique place in New Bedford. Pictures from Sunday start here on Flickr.

Posted by James at 4:43 PM | Comments (2)

July 23, 2006

Hold Still While I Shoot The Dog Behind You

3 NYC Police Officers Accidentally Shot While Attempting to Subdue Attacking Pit Bull

Can they really call it “accidentally?” Do we have a word yet for “yeah they didn’t mean to shoot each other, but they did something so stupid that it almost ensured something bad would happen”?

I suggest “Stupidentally.”

Posted by James at 12:33 PM | Comments (8)

July 21, 2006

Stem Cell Skewering

I don’t usually post Daily Show videos here, because Jon Stewart and his writers are so much funnier than I am that it’s embarrassing.

But I had to post this. Jon Stewart sums up the Stem Cell Veto and Bush’s culture of life.

Watch it with, then go hug some, undifferentiated cells.

Posted by James at 11:50 PM | Comments (5)

Jolt WindsprintShotgun

Title is a reference to drinking Jolt cola and running around like a crazy person, which was a craze for a few days at Shaw’s in Fall River in the mid 80’s. But avoid warm Moxie like the plague. You’ve been warned.

Weight Graph

Posted by James at 9:53 AM | Comments (3)

July 20, 2006

A Blow to Cure Discovery

Yesterday, the president vetoed a bill to fund research into cure discovery, opposing a solid majority of Americans who want medical science to plumb the promising field of embryonic stem cell usage.

In the process, his supporters muddy the waters by claiming that “recent studies” show researchers “have far more promise from adult stem cells than from embryonic stem cells.” (Karl Rove) when the exact opposite is true. Scientists have been very clear that:

Current evidence suggests that adult stem cells have markedly restricted differentiation potential. Therefore, for disorders that prove not to be treatable with adult stem cells, impeding human pluripotent stem cell research risks unnecessary delay for millions of patients who may die or endure needless suffering while the effectiveness of adult stem cells is evaluated. - ACE, AAU, NASULGC Letter to HHS Secretary, with Transmittal Letters to the President and Congress, on NIH Guidelines for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

[Note: in the intervening years, there has been more research into adult stem cells, but it hasn’t changed the consensus the consensus that pluripotent stem cells have more potential than multipotent adult stem cells.]

He muddies the water by parading children in front of the nation. These are (luckily, healthy) children who were cultivated as embryos, failing to mention that embryos used in research were never on their way to becoming children and are destroyed if not used for research.

“How can you argue in the face of these children who were once embryos?”

And how about the baby born with diabetes? How do you tell her that she’s stuck with it? “Sorry, we might have found a cure, but the president chose to delay cure discovery. Even though a majority of Americans would have liked to have cured your disease, the president and his supporters have some extreme views, and he promised to promote those extreme views. Live with your diabetes, and all the consequences.”

How about her father, the Parkinson’s disease sufferer? “Sorry, you likely won’t see your daughter grow up. But maybe by then we’ll have found a cure by some other means — you never know! Too late for you, though.”

How about the person suffering from a spinal cord injury? Maybe even as a result of his service in the war. Sorry, live with it.

Don’t hand me the bullshit line of “How can you face the children who were once embryos and argue for stem cell research?” They were embryos once, we were all embryos once. Heck, you can trace us all back to a single sperm or egg, but we have not yet outlawed activities that shed sperm or shed eggs that never become little children.

In fact, if Bush or his supporters actually cared about these embryos, wouldn’t he oppose the activities that produce excess embryos that end up getting destroyed? Shouldn’t fertility treatments be banned for the same exact reason? Yes. If the answer is “yes” to one, it ought to be “yes” to both.

But I say, no. These activities should not be banned. People seeking to have children should not be punished because of some extreme view. And neither should people suffering from potentially curable diseases be punished just to assuage a minority of Americans so that they can feel good about themselves while doing nothing about the process that creates the hundreds of thousands of surplus embryos in the first place.

The president has dashed the hopes of people everywhere relying on cure discovery, while doing nothing to stop the creation of embryos that will eventually become nothing but medical waste.

Posted by James at 11:12 AM | Comments (10)

July 19, 2006

Gone In The Wink of an Eye?

We went out tonight as a family, and on the way to the interstate, we crossed Route 6. We had the green light, and cars coming the other way were stopped. As I entered the intersection, the light turned yellow for me, but we were already passing through.

Halfway through the intersection there was a blur to my right. A car (some sort of white sedan) was speeding into the intersection at what had to be highway speeds. I was across three lanes as it entered the fourth and passed no more than a foot or two in front of us, passing all the stopped traffic at the light. The car must have gone around them all on the right.

Maggie says that I did something to try to evade the car. I must have pressed on the break, but I don’t remember. I remember seeing the car pass in front of us, being startled, and being very frightened knowing something was going very wrong.

At some point I simultaneously knew that the car was not going to collide with us, or we with it and that we’d had little or no control over that. I think that my braking may have prevented me from hitting the left rear quarter of the speeding car as it sailed through the red light, but if we’d been two seconds earlier, we wouldn’t have seen the car moving behind the line of cars waiting at the light. And the car would have ploughed into Maggie and little M. Maybe I would have survived, and maybe K.

The car sped off perpendicular to us, east on Rt. 6. I came to a stop on Lee’s River Ave. after Maggie asked whether I was alright. The adrenaline had kicked in. I stopped because even though I felt OK, I figured I should really think before giving an answer.

Yeah, I’m OK. But it’s bothersome to be reminded that the feeling of control we have, the control we like to believe we have, is really not much more than just a feeling.

Posted by James at 9:41 PM | Comments (28)

Cutting Edge Influence

In case you don’t read my wife’s weblog, she recently posted about a visit from a salesman, which became part of the summer educational curriculum of our children.

I told the girls they could sit and watch, and they would have to pay attention to the tactics used. Sales tactics rely on our learned and automatic behaviors for social situations, such as reciprocation.

“He might give us a free sample of some sort. In fact, he offered to bring over donuts, and I told him not to. This would make us feel obligated to buy something from him in return for the favor.”

M couldn’t quite get past that I had refused the donuts.
Posted by James at 4:49 PM | Comments (2)

July 18, 2006

Bush Is A Trekkie

Probably not, but it makes a good title.

Anyway, I figured that since this blog used to be all over making fun of the president, and we just don’t do much of that anymore, I had to chime in now that the world is on fire over the president’s gawky G8 visit.

Ok, we know the guy curses. Classy! But I’ve been known to use a naughty word or two when I talk to Tony Blair or talk about terrorist organizations. I’m willing to let that go. Blair seems cool with it anyhow. They had a weird conversation that just doesn’t sounds like what you’d expect two world leaders to sound like at a summit of powerful countries. That just makes him all the more endearing, doesn’t it? He’s like a little kid with all these grownups. That’s cool!

Our president is unique. He’s all ours.

Then there’s this awkward moment when he grabs (gropes) German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Save the back rubs for Laura, POTUS. Ms. Merkel doesn’t want a massage, and she shrugs him off, dashing the chances of a happy ending. Some say he grabbed her. Some say he’s pulling one of those “I’m-going-to-carelessly-rub-your-back-because-you’re-a-woman” gropes. I say he’s trying to give her the Vulcan nerve pinch, and it just didn’t come off right. Apparently, the White House doesn’t have an HR department and the G8 conference doesn’t have a harassment policy, which is (as we say in Mass.) “wicked lucky.”

Our randy president. He’s the best!

Posted by James at 1:19 PM | Comments (13)

Coffee Prank

Jake Suspects... something "I heard my name. What's going on?" Jake asked. "You're up to something."

Ryan and I were grinning and suppressing our laughter. "You think we're up to something?" I asked.

Jake was about to sip his large Dunkin Donuts vanilla iced coffee "extra, extra" and that prompted me to get out my phone cam for a picture.

"What do you think we could possibly be up to? I asked Jake as he eyed us with suspicion.

Birth of a Prank

It started last Thursday while we were all at a local Dunkin Donuts. When it was Jake's turn at the counter he ordered his usual. Large french vanilla iced coffee "extra, extra." That means "extra sugar and extra cream."

Derek commented that Jake ought to just order a coffee milk, because it's the same thing. Jake insisted that it's not the same thing. Derek retorted that he doubted Jake would be able to tell the difference. Jake said he would.

You see where this is going, don't you?

Coffee Milk

For those "not from around here" you probably need a definition of "coffee milk." Basically, coffee milk is similar to the idea of chocolate milk, except that instead of using chocolate syrup you prepare it with a a sweetened coffee-flavored syrup. This is the official state beverage of Rhode Island. The syrup is made from coffee, but has a low level of caffeine. People all over New England drink the stuff, especially kids. (see Coffee Milk page on Quahog.com )

The Prank

Ryan insisted that we needed to switch Jake's usual Extra-Extra with coffee milk. Eventually, I agreed to help, though I was skeptical and thought he'd detect the switch right away. I chronicled our visit to Dunkin Donuts in pictures (it's also a Flickr photoset called Coffee Prank ).

DD in Dartmouth

Ryan enters the store full of resolve. "Today we prank!"
Coffee Milk

It's coffee milk in its natural habitat.
Ryan Orders

We stand in the halls of coffee, beseeching and waiting for our request to be granted.
It takes 2

Ryan purchased the necessary provisions to pull off this prank, including an extra coffee container. That white thing in the middle is what an extra-sweet, extra-light looks like.
Prep Time

We prepared the prank right in the store. Here's where I took an active role, as I started to imagine that Ryan was right and that we might pull this off. I strained the extra-extra into the other container, to remove the coffee. Then, Ryan poured the coffee milk over the ice from the original container. That way, it still looked like an iced coffee.
Compare and Contrast

And here's the final product. Which is which, you ask? Well, the darker, more-coffee-looking one is the coffee milk! I think we might pull this off.

We returned to work, put the real coffee in the cube fridge and Ryan gave Jake his coffee milk.

Jake Sips A half hour later, he came downstairs to leave. He heard us talking about him, so he came over.

I repeatedly asked him what he thought was going on, but he couldn't guess what it might be. He thought maybe we were preparing for one of our semi-famous challenges. But, no, we were not.

During the discussion, which lasted about four minutes, he sipped on his coffee several times, allowing me to get an actual picture of him blissfully unaware that he was drinking coffee milk.

Ryan and I let him off the hook and gave him his real coffee. Jake said "I knew something was going on with the coffee! I even said something to Derek!"

However, he really didn't know we were pranking him. Derek revealed that what Jake though had happened was that we had mistakenly gotten him JUST an extra sweet coffee, and not an extra light one. In other words, he thought it tasted more like coffee than an extra-extra does, not less like coffee.


This prank, therefore, was a success! It is confirmed that when Jake orders an extra-extra, he gets something sufficiently like coffee milk that he still thinks he is drinking coffee.

The end!
Posted by James at 9:53 AM | Comments (9)

July 17, 2006

Frustration Over Lebanon

I’ve been struggling with my thoughts regarding what’s going on right now in Lebanon. I’ve come to a few conclusions, but I have had to admit that my understanding is very simplistic. As I learn more, my understanding changes and the whole situation looks different again.

Iran and Syria have been and will continue to use Lebanon to cause trouble for Israel at a very low cost to themselves, through the destructive force of Hezbollah. Anti-Syrian politics has been difficult in Lebanon, with Syria-supported terrorism plaguing the country.

Lebanon has been trying to make gains in controlling Hezbollah (in the wake of Syria’s occupation of Lebanon, which ended last year) but those were slow going. Now, Hezbollah has crossed a line that Israel can’t abide and as Hezbollah knows what’s in store, they’re unloading all of their weapons into Israel as IDF forces bomb Lebanese targets and begin the invasion.

What should Lebanon do? What should Israel do? Civilians are already dying as a result of the bombing. It’s absolutely horrible. And I don’t have any genius advice or a solution. I think that Blair’s call for international forces to help police the Lebanese border might be a positive step. But too late now?

This morning I listened to some microcephalic people talk about how they knew what was best for Lebanon, and their knowledge was even less than my meagre understanding. The ignorance was galling. At the same time, I was reading a blog post from an anti-Syrian Lebanese blogger in Lebanon, feeling his frustration, and sympathizing. It was quite a counterpoint to the voices on the radio which seem to always favor a “Hulk Smash” approach.

I’ll leave you with these comments of frustration on Lebanese Political Journal, and a link to the blog post.

The entire time this was happening, we were reaching out through the internet to Israelis creating a human bond. Perpetual Refugee actually went to Israel and wrote quite passionately about his personal experiences there.

The whole time, we were being attacked by Hezbollah members and anti-semites. I argued with people on a daily basis. I argued with government officials. I argued with the Army. I argued with Islamists. But I guess that’s not good enough. If the United States, France, and the UN Security Council are too afraid to do it, I’m supposed to.

So, Israel is doing it for us, eh? I thought they would impact on the local dynamic, at first. I thought Israel was going to help prove that they would not abide with Hezbollah’s weapons and wouldn’t let Hezbollah continue spreading the stupid myth that they can protect Lebanon. I thought this even after they bombed the airport. Okay, it’s a major symbol. I don’t like it getting bombed, but I get it. At first, they hit military targets and the airport.

But the devastation they have wreaked on us is truly horrendous. The US did not do this to the Iraqis. The US didn’t do this to al Qaeda in Afghanistan, for crying out loud.

My heart goes out to all the people suffering from this flare up in the middle east, no matter what country they’re in.


Posted by James at 1:03 PM | Comments (9)

July 16, 2006

Shhhhh... Everyone's On Vacation

When the study doesn’t support the administration’s agenda, you release the results on a Friday and hope the media misses it. (Turmoil in the middle east helps divert attention, luckily.)

The federal Education Department reported Friday that, in reading and math, children attending public schools generally do as well as or better than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private-school children did better. […]

Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, the union for millions of teachers, said the findings showed that public schools were “doing an outstanding job” and said that if the results had been favorable to private schools, “there would have been press conferences and glowing statements about private schools.”

“The administration has been giving public schools a beating since the beginning” to advance President Bush’s political agenda, Weaver said, of promoting charter schools and taxpayer-financed vouchers for private schools as alternatives to failing traditional public schools. A spokesman for the Education Department, Chad Colby, said he did not expect the findings to influence policy. Colby emphasized repeatedly that “an overall comparison of the two types of schools is of modest utility.”

When they scraped the bottom of the barrel they found the Conservative Christian schools there, with the worst performance overall. The worst in math, and no better than the public schools in literature (the only place where other private school types excelled.)

The next time someone is beating on public schools, which surely have their problems, remember that it could easily be worse, and IS in some places. As we work together to find ways to improve the schools, private school does not stand up to scrutiny as any sort of a solution.

BTW: My intention is not to pick on Christian schools specifically. Here’s an interesting take on Muslim faith schools in Britain. (Social problems rather than educational issues are addressed, and I think the problem may apply to faith schools in other integrated cultures as well (no matter what the faith.): “Why no child of mine will go to a faith school.”

[Edited to reduce the cuteness/cleverness of my comments and increase the clarity and my point.]

Posted by James at 12:46 PM | Comments (9)

July 15, 2006

Squid Ink

I looked in Webtender and in ExtraTasty, and neither of those websites had a drink named “Squid Ink.” I am surprised. There needs to be one.

While experimenting with pomegranate juice, Julie and I found that it’s so dark that it tends to make drinks inky, especially when mixed with blue curacao. Julie had the idea that it looked like squid ink. Our first version was too citrusy, but drinkable. I tried to make it more purple (going the Jesus Prayer Rug route) Big mistake. The results were not good.

But now, I think I’ve refined the recipe to something worth drinking. And it has my favorite distillate beginning with “r” in it. That’d be “rum.”

Squid ink is not the most appealing color for a drink. But I’m sick of my people trying to rename my drinks to things like “Pinky Tuscadero.” Wink.

Squid Ink

  • 2 oz Pomegranate Juice
  • 1/2 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1 oz Midori
  • 1 1/2 oz Spiced Rum (like Captain Morgan’s)

Shake over ice. Strain into cosmo glass.

Maybe it would be even darker with Gosling’s Black Seal. But Black Seal and Midori? Dunno ‘bout that.

Posted by James at 3:20 AM | Comments (24)

Not Quite Gamera

Incan Turtle DudeWe spent the day Friday in the Boston area.

First, we hit the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology and the Harvard Museum of Natural History. It’s two, two, two museums in one!

Actually, they are two connected museums, and you can visit them both for one admission. We used library passes and got in for $1 each. Get in cheap and spend your money in the gift shop seems to be our motto, (have to work on the holdings of the Burke Museum of Natural and Not-So-Natural Curiosities dontchaknow).

In any case pictured here is an Incan turtle-man which reminded me of my favorite Kaiju monster, Gamera. This leads the museum patrons to deep thoughts such as “did the ancient Incan civilization have Creature Double Feature?”

The kids put up with us as we examined the Peabody’s anthropological artifacts (K actually enjoyed those, but M is not as interested in archaeology) . Both perked up when we took in the sights of the mineral room at the Harvard Natural History museum. Some amazing pieces there. Meteorites you can touch (K said they smelled like outer space) a giant gypsum crystal found in a Mexican cave, minerals in all shades of color and all imaginable shapes.

Also at the museum are amazing glass flowers. Maggie and I had expected some sort of artistic display. Indeed, these were works of art, but they were intended to be true representations of plants and flowers, not merely artistic impressions. Along with normal scale glass models there were also glass models of the reproductive parts of the plants, magnified 5 to 15 times or so. Even more in the case of some of the pollen models.

As if that weren’t enough, there is a huge gallery of mammals in the museum as well. Bones, stuffed mammals, and pictures. There are smaller sections for prehistoric megafauna and sharks and birds. M closed her eyes through much of the exhibits of larger animals after having been frightened by a large farm animal of some kind.

We left the museum when it closed at 5, and decided to stay in the city for a while. We made our way to the Boston Museum of Science, took advantage of our membership and a nearly empty museum, open late on Friday night. It was great fun for the kids , since the museum was really crowded the last time we went.

Check out more pictures from the trip (all phonecam, sorry) in my Flickr photostream.

Posted by James at 1:54 AM | Comments (2)

July 14, 2006

Uniform Code of Shotgun

Weight Graph

Posted by James at 9:52 AM | Comments (4)

July 13, 2006

Frozen Drink Season

Smoothies of Industry

If you're in the northeast US and you have a TV, you've probably seen the ad campaign for Dunkin Donuts' new smoothies. Of course, if you're in the northeast, you can't avoid Dunkin Donuts so you may have already had one of their new smoothies.

In any case, in the last few years, the approach of summer has meant new frozen drinks from the most familiar coffee vendor in New England. This year the new offerings are 3 fruit and yogurt smoothies. I have tried one of them: the Strawberry Banana Smoothie.

Its flavor was pleasant and not too surprising. Sufficiently berry-like with a hint of banana. Strong creamy/tangy flavor from the yogurt.

Coolatta Calories

Previously, when I went to Dunkin Donuts for a frozen treat, I set my sights on their coffee Coolattas. They're delicious.

16 oz. is a small. The medium size is 24 oz. Since I generally get a medium, the "small" nutrition information is, to me, a little misleading. Even though Dunkin Donuts tells you the nutrition values are for 16 oz., it may not be clear to people that 16 oz is a small.

To wit, I once explicitly placed an order for "whichever one is 16 ounces" and was given a 24 oz. medium. By a manager. I have a witness (Sara!). So I have adjusted all the calorie information below for 24 oz.

When you get a 24 oz. Coolatta (with cream), you're getting 525 (admittedly delicious) calories of fat and sugar. 300 calories from fat, but the 210 sugar calories aren't all that good for you either. (BTW, I think they miscalculated and that there are actually 555 total calories in a Coolatta. I think there are 30 calories in complex carbohydrates they forgot to figure in.)

For comparison, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese is 516 calories. A medium order of McDonalds fries is 450 calories. 2 "Big Grab" bags of Ruffles potato chips (at a total of 3 ounces of chips) are about 480 calories.

I'm not telling you not to drink one of these. Just know what you're getting into.

So, I sometimes asked them to make the Coolatta with milk. Those weigh in at 315 calories (60 from fat and 240 from sugar this time). A whole milk Coolatta is almost as good as a cream one. At least, to me.

Going all out to eliminate fat, you could get a Skim Milk Coolatta. That's 255 calories. Nearly all the calories are from sugar. However, the drink's enjoyability suffers when you lose all of the fat.

Ultimately, last summer, I switched to an Iced coffee with skim milk (adding Splenda for sweetness). That's a 37.5 calorie drink. Good for when you really want coffee, but it does leave something to be desired.

If it looks like I'm targeting fat here as evil, I'm not. There really isn't anything all that special about calories from fat. A low fat diet is not, in and of itself, going to help you lose weight any more than, say a vegetarian diet, or a no-Twinkie diet would. However, because fat has 9 calories per gram and carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram each, reducing extra fat in your diet might make it easier to reduce calories. But you really have to find a way that works for you, and people have different food preferences that may make one approach easier than another. Don't go too crazy. A healthy diet includes fat. As always, follow you doctor's advice if you have a condition that warrants dietary restrictions.

In a future post, maybe I'll give a recipe for one of my homemade low-cal banana and strawberry smoothies. I have to measure the calories carefully, though, before I go posting about it here on the blog. Since I'm "outing" Dunkin Donuts for their calorie contents, I want to be up front about my own alternative. That means getting out the scale, and usually when I make my smoothie I am on my way out the door.

Additional Links

Posted by James at 2:05 AM | Comments (14)

July 12, 2006

Slater Park

Driving around Rumford, RI last night with Maggie, we stumbled upon a really nice park. Slater Memorial Park. We’d actually wandered out of Rumford, I think, and into south Pawtucket.

Here’s a satellite view of the park from Google.

The park is quite large. It features a Loof carousel, a petting zoo, a number of water features and a bike/walking path. Here’s a page with some additional details.

I mentioned it to Sharon and she said that there is a Slater Mill museum in Pawtucket. Turns out the museum is just over a mile to the west. It might make a nice day trip (with kids) to visit the museum in the morning, scoot over to the commercial center on Newport Ave for lunch, bike/run/scoot/skate or play at the park for a while and then see a movie at the really cheap Patriot Cinema just over the Pawtucket border to the south in Rumford (half a mile south of the park, on Newport Ave.)

Posted by James at 5:14 PM | Comments (2)

Side By Side

Side By Side
Originally uploaded by Dr Momentum.
Stop & Shop in Rumford gives you a choice of Red Sox-themed peanut
packaging or Yankee-themed peanut packaging. And they're right there,
side by side.

I can almost understand this for Rhode Island, but the S&S in
Dartmouth also gives you the choice. What's up with that!!?!?

In Somerset, only the Red Sox peanuts are available. I'm just sayin'.
Posted by James at 5:12 PM | Comments (2)

July 11, 2006

Italian Footballer Utters Lamest Excuse Ever

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the World Cup, you probably know by now that French footballer Zidane was red-carded and ejected from the final against Italy for a brutal head-butting of Italian footballer Marco Materazzi. (videos of it are all over YouTube)

(First, an aside. Soccer looks like a fun sport, but all the writhing around on the ground in response to injuries is a real turn-off. Players appear to take every opportunity to look like 5-year-olds on a playground when somebody bumps into them. As soon as they learn they aren’t getting the penalty, they somehow manage to suck it up and a miraculous recovery occurs. Yeah, yeah, yeah — I’m a dumb American who doesn’t “get” soccer, I am the hundred millionth person to make this criticism, and there are similar phenomena in other sports. But I’m not a fan of those other sports, and seeing grown men acting like preschoolers is a pet peeve of mine. I don’t care what effect it has on the game technically, it’s ridiculous to watch.)

Back to Materazzi and Zildane. The head-butt looked gratuitous. Yeah, there was some chest-groping just before on the part of Materazzi, and I keep joking to Ryan that a purple nurple was involved (because Ryan was adamant that this was not happening, I kept showing him the video and saying things like “steer clear of Italian football celebrations, or at least guard your nipples.” Yeah, real clever stuff. Plus I just like saying “purple nurple.”) Ryan assures me that Materazzi was just holding Zidane back, but they did exchange words at that time.

There are varying accounts of what Materazzi said to Zidane. At first, neither footballer would talk about what was said. Lipreaders claim to have deciphered Materazzis comments from the video:

Britain’s top forensic lip-reader, Jessica Rees - whose skill has led her to be summoned as an expert witness at criminal trials - believed Materazzi called Zidane a “son of a terrorist whore” before he added, “So just f—- off”.

Materazzi’s representative came forward to say the comment was instead about Zidane’s wife.

A lot of that trash talk I’m sure goes both ways, and it’s a whole lot of he said/he said. You’ll have to come to your own conclusions on whether there was actual hate speech involved, or what you want to believe.

But what really got me was this comment from Materazzi:

“I did insult him, it’s true,” Materazzi said in Tuesday’s Gazzetta dello Sport. “But I categorically did not call him a terrorist. I’m not cultured and I don’t even know what an Islamic terrorist is.

What what what? Do you think someone explained it to him afterwards? This is really one of those “dumb if you do, dumb if you don’t” comments. Sorry you got head-butted, Marco, but give us all a huge break, here.

Sometimes, Americans get criticised for being unworldly because they’re not familiar with soccer — a sport so popular in much of the world. Well, at least I know what “football” is. And I have had enough experience in the world to know when someone is acting incredibly lame.

Posted by James at 9:36 AM | Comments (17)

Big Dig Ceiling Section Falls, Kills Woman

One woman is killed in the collapse.

The problems keep getting worse. Debris falling and damaging cars, leaks, and now someone’s been killed, and someone else injured.

(Here’s a blog commentary overview at Universal Hub)

Posted by James at 9:12 AM | Comments (20)

July 10, 2006

Same Difference

Same Flavor, Different Taste... Or SomethingI bought some of this chipotle BBQ sauce from Bull’s-Eye the other day and Ryan notice something strange about it (as did the kids, since they are trained in advertisement criticism).

As M put it, “How can you have a new flavor and still have it taste the same? That’s like getting strawberry ice cream and having it taste like mint ice cream.”

New flavor, same taste. The best of both contradictory worlds!

Posted by James at 8:18 PM | Comments (3)

Hooray For Christians

“Jesus called us to love our neighbor, love our enemy, care for the poor, care for the outcast, and that’s really the moral core of where we think the nation ought to go,” Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told CBS News correspondent Russ Mitchell.

Love? Is that a message that will sell? I guess they’ll see.

“We are furious that the religious right has made Jesus into a Republican. That’s idolatry,” Campolo said. “To recreate Jesus in your own image rather than allowing yourself to be created in Jesus’ image is what’s wrong with politics.”

Ouch, Rev. Campolo. I’d give you an “Amen” but an endorsement from an atheist is probably not going to help you much.

Posted by James at 6:05 PM | Comments (4)

July 9, 2006

Whale of a Linguistic Tale

Apparently, “Whale Tail” was selected by American Dialect Society this year as the “most creative word” of 2005. How did I miss this? I’d never even heard the use of “whale tail” in this context.

I’ll let you check out the Wikipedia article to get the full explanation.

I located this addition to the lexicon while researching the British slang-word “chav” which appeared in an article I was reading. There were three words I was interested in. “chav,” “yoof,” and “slag.”


I’ll start with “slag,” because it’s older. “Slag” is equivalent to the American slang word “slut.” Wiktionary says it’s Australian and UK slang. I first remember seeing it on a comedy TV show in the mid 80’s on PBS. The show was called “The Comic Strip Presents.” Comedy greats Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French were involved in this show that produced separate satirical/parody episodes. When Maggie and I were in college this show was on late at night on WGBH, the local PBS station. One episode entitled “Slags” was about a futuristic gang of young miscreants.

The term “slags” was already in use as an insult at the time, and it has survived to the present day.


Chav” is a term I had never heard before. It seems to have become a very popular word in the UK and it reached some sort of noticeable threshold about 2003 or so. The term is slang for a particular subcultural stereotype. The closest thing in the states would be “wigger” but I think most readers here might be familiar with the “chav” stereotype if they imagine British 16-to-20somethings wearing “bling” jewelry, excessive name brands, and participating in numerous misanthropic behaviors such as that happy slapping. (mentined on Wikipedia, Aces Full)

One stereotypical characteristic of the chav involves lazy pronunciations of certain words, such as substituting the “f” sound where “th” is appropriate. “Wif” for “with.” Also, using a “k” sound instead of the “ing” sound. “Nofink” instead of “nothing.”


It took me a moment or two, but then the meaning of “yoof” became apparent; it’s “youth” in the slurring speech of a chav.

I found it interesting that the subject of the satirical comedy piece “Slags” was about a Clockwork Orange-esque future with brit youths running around committing crimes, and that looking up “slags” today led me back to this subculture which seems to have adopted petty and violent crime as a hallmark.

“Whale tail” turned up as one of the traits of chavettes, along with the “tramp stamp” — a term for lower back tattoos which is already catching on here.

Have you encountered any slang lately that was new to you, which you think you’re likely to use again in the near future? The only other compelling term I’ve heard recently is “Coultergeist” for Ann Coulter, but I have very little reason to refer to her on a regular basis.

Posted by James at 4:07 PM | Comments (1)

July 8, 2006

Keri's Campaign

Keri’s Campaign

Originally uploaded by Dr Momentum.

It’s official. Keri is running for princess of Fall River!

I’d better study up on political campaign strategy, because I’m her campaign manager.

Official announcement here.

Posted by James at 12:29 PM | Comments (5)

July 7, 2006

Cancel The Account

Here’s a bonus Friday link because the world is insane.

AOL has people you need to talk to if you want to cancel your account. Ostensibly, these people have the job of helping customers, but in reality their job is to convince you not to cancel. In fact, these poor individuals are expected to change the customer’s mind 60% of the time.

One frustrated customer recorded his call to AOL and it is now posted on Consumerist for all to hear. In my humble opinion, both of these people are trapped in a corporate-manufactured hell.

Click here to listen to the conversation of the dammed.

Posted by James at 1:29 PM | Comments (9)

Scoop Shotgun

And, the scoop URL of the day:

Somerset Scoop Yahoo Group

It’s a page for Somerset political discussion. “Somerset Citizens Online Open Politics” Nohting like a little small town political back-and-forth.

(Thanks to some digging by Keri)

Weight Graph of doom.

Posted by James at 10:54 AM | Comments (1)

July 5, 2006


I’m rooting for Portugal to beat France today and then Italy to win the World Cup.

[Ed. That came out wrong. I meant that I want Portugal to beat Italy — I want Portugal to go all the way. ]

I want to see Fall River and New Bedford go crazy-nuts.

Posted by James at 2:54 PM | Comments (5)

This Ad Approved By Osama

Bush voters, go ahead and surf away from this page. You’re not going to be interested in this. I’d rather not have to apologize to you afterward, so you may as well just not read it.

OK. First, a banner I created during the 2004 campaign:

It turns out that Osama Bin Laden is smarter than some Election 2004 Bush supporters, according to CIA analysts. Sorry for the harsh take, but when a terrorist can manipulate a bunch of people from halfway around the world and barely lift a finger doing it, it seems like he’s outsmarted you. You see, a lot of Bush supporters (neocon bloggers f’rinstance) spun Kerry as the choice of the terrorists.

CIA analysts who considered the evidence had a different opinion on that question, and that opinion was supported when Bin Laden made an announcement late in the campaign that denounced George W. Bush. The analysts figured this was an attempt to rekindle the USA’s commitment to continue Bush’s policies (a failure for the American people but a boon to terrorist recruiting).

As their internal assessment sank in, the CIA analysts drifted into silence, troubled by the implications of their own conclusions. “An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin-Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,” Suskind wrote.

One immediate consequence of bin-Laden breaking nearly a year of silence to issue the videotape the weekend before the U.S. presidential election was to give the Bush campaign a much needed boost. From a virtual dead heat, Bush opened up a six-point lead, according to one poll.

The above is from an article on this website, but ultimately from Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine.

Many righty blogs took Bin Laden’s announcement at face value. For all their blustering tough self-images when it comes to the “war on terror” they ironically took Bin Laden at his word. But, of course, this is when a mark is the most vulnerable to a con. Bin Laden was telling them exactly what they wanted to hear, and many bought it.

The CIA analysts weren’t the only ones who noticed this. But nobody finds it easy to swallow that they’re being manipulated by a crazy terrorist.

The effect immediately following the announcement could not have been more clear. The only question then is whether you believe that Osama could have predicted that reaction.

Terrorists seem to know a thing or two about getting a reaction out of people. And Osama had plenty of recent examples of American reaction. Our hawkish reactions are all over the news and easy to predict.

You don’t learn from a terrorist by taking him at his word.


In case you’re still wondering why Bin Laden would want the Bush administration to continue, see today’s NYT story:

C.I.A. Closes Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden

In recent years, the war in Iraq has stretched the resources of the intelligence agencies and the Pentagon, generating new priorities for American officials. For instance, much of the military’s counterterrorism units, like the Army’s Delta Force, had been redirected from the hunt for Mr. bin Laden to the search for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed last month in Iraq.
Posted by James at 1:55 AM | Comments (7)

July 4, 2006

Happy Independence

(image hosted by ImageShack)

Posted by James at 12:45 PM

July 1, 2006

Jellies in Blue

Jellies in Blue
Originally uploaded by Dr Momentum.
PawSox game on Thursday night and the Aquarium (Boston's New England Aquarium) on Friday. I uploaded just a few pictures (if you're a Friend or Family in Flickr, you'll see a couple more, as usual).

The PawSox lost badly, 0 to 1. The run came in on a wild pitch. The Lynx had at least twice as many hits as the Sox did. Their pitcher was quite good. The Sox had some great defensive plays, especially early on, but a few bad plays in right field later in the game were enough to put the Lynx into scoring position.

At least the Red Sox won on Thursday night.

The aquarium was a lot of fun. The girls enjoyed the exhibits as least as much as the last time we went. It was our most relaxing and fun visit yet.
Posted by James at 2:06 AM | Comments (3)