Chocolate drink and some notes about food podcasts

Bittersweet Chocolate Drink:

This is a drink I came up with recently for times when I am craving chocolate but trying to stay away from candy. Add 1 Tablespoon cocoa powder and 1 packed Tablespoon dark brown sugar to a large coffee mug. Add 10-12 ounces boiling water. Stir thoroughly. Add in 2 Tablespoons dairy with some fat (milk, table cream, whipping cream, whatever). Stir, let cool.

So far, it’s been very filling and has helped keep me away from my dad’s stash of candy bars when I get chocolate cravings.

Food podcasts:

I’m still listening to podcasts. Here are a couple about food that I really enjoy. Continue reading

Phil’s Fonts — A nice site

Site: Phil’s Fonts,

I know the right alphabet and the right formatting can do wonders for a piece of written text.

I know what I like when I see it.

But I’m still learning how to create that myself.

Adding in the web browser dimension just makes it more complicated. Even if you like what you see on your screen, how will it render on the user’s screen? And yes, there are some newer ways to create more ways for users to see fonts, but I’m wrapping my head around how those work too.

Plus still learning about how different types of typesets work together (or don’t work together, as the case may be).

If you want to learn about fonts and typesets, the book The Non-Designer’s Design & Type Books by Robin Williams is fantastic.

And Ms. Williams’ book is where I found a recommendation for Phil’s Fonts, which is a very nice and useful site with many thousands of fonts. You can search them by name, type, and foundry, and it will tell you the different formats each font is available in, as well as letting you try out sample text with a font.

The only thing I’d say to be careful of is some of the end-user license agreements. Those vary by font foundry, and some can be VERY specific about what formats you can use the font in, or how many times, or on how many machines.

On the plus side, Phil’s Fonts has a couple of fonts available for free download each month, and also a really nice free newsletter that showcases different fonts each month so you can see how some of the many fonts look in different settings.

Useful tools for digital photographs

These are some useful links and tools I stumbled across recently.

I like taking photos and went fully digital almost 10 years ago, so I have lots and lots of digital photos. However, I have limited experience with all the thousand-and-one ways you can manipulate photos digitally, or all the information you can get from a digital photo file.

PhotoME doesn’t do any type of image manipulation. But it WILL show you just about everything it’s possible to find out from a digital photograph regarding the camera’s settings. In the case of some digital cameras, they embed a surprising amount of data into their picture files — what type of camera, both model and manufacturere; which lens; which exposure; was a flash used; and a ton of other stuff.

PhotoME will work with images in many different file formats, including JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PNG and most RAW file formats.

I’ve already played around with PhotoME a bit, it’s pretty impressive. Extremely easy to download and install too.

(NOTE: that camera data is referred to as EXIF data, it is embedded in your digital pictures by your camera. I am not certain, but I think there are applications and programs which can remove that EXIF data from your digital photographs, in case you don’t want the entire world to know which cameras you use.)

EXIF Viewer is a plugin for your Firefox web browser. It can show EXIF data of pictures on your computer if they are in JPEG format, and also pictures displayed in Firefox from other sources (such as web pages).

I haven’t tried EXIF Viewer yet, it looks interesting but is limited to JPEG files only.

Stolen Camera Finder is a web site that will help you track down a stolen or lost camera, based on the camera serial number in EXIF data from pictures from that camera.

(Obviously, if your camera is lost or stolen before you get any digital pictures from it saved to somewhere besides the camera, and you didn’t bother to write down the camera serial number, then you’re probably out of luck.)

This is another service I haven’t tried, but I thought I’d put up a link to it while I’m writing this post.

Some useful links for gardening

Each year I have vague dreams of planting a garden, and each year I get too busy with too many other things to start seedlings in the house, so I buy a few plants at local home and garden supply stores, and try my luck with those.

The results are mixed. Although I have introduced the rest of the family to a few mints & related related relatives they weren’t aware of, but have to grown to like very much. Particularly pineapple sage, chocolate mint, and citrus mint. And although most of our tomatoes didn’t do well this year, a couple years ago I got some zebra stripe tomatoes to grow well and Dad really liked those. (They stay green and tart even when completely ripe, and since Dad likes his regular tomatoes a bit on the tart green side, he really liked the zebra stripes. And yes, I may have gotten the wrong name on those.)

But we keep getting various gardening catalogs, so I wanted to sit down and write a list of interesting garden catalogs we’ve gotten through friends or in the mail.

Before I get to any company names, I’d like to direct readers to the site Dave’s Garden, which among other things has a place for users to rate and leave feedback for gardening companies.
Continue reading

Nice post about tea from Jennifer Petersen at Over the Teacups

My friend Jennifer Petersen has a nice post about tea and what countries it is grown in at

It was particularly useful for me today, I am in the process of introducing a friend who doesn’t drink tea to some of the different types of tea out there and it is always nice to review information before I pass it on to someone else. 🙂

Found a neat new site while I was looking for silk ribbon

The site is (unsurprisingly)

They have bunches of silk ribbon, including both the thin colored silk ribbon that used to be in fabric stores about 10-20 years ago when silk ribbon embroidery was really popular, and tons more types besides.

I honestly hadn’t realized there were that many silk ribbon types out there.

You can sort by color, or by type, and in many cases you can buy spools in addition to 2 – 3 yard lengths.

They also have hand-dyed silk ribbon too.

The prices seem to be quite reasonable.

I’m glad I found the site. 🙂

. . . Yes, I know I need to start adding more pictures to my blog posts. Nothing but text gets boring after a while. I was looking for silk ribbon to hang a pendant on, perhaps after I get my order I’ll be able to write another post with a picture of how my pendant looks with its silk ribbon cord.

A few recommended resources for those who like to cook

Presented in no particular order.


Bon Appetit — A really good magazine. A lot of their recipes are too fancy or complicated for my tastes, but they have a lot of recipes that are good and once in a while have a recipe that is WONDERFUL!! And regardless of whether I actually cook any recipes in a given issue or not, it’s always fun to read.

Cook’s Illustrated — Another really good magazine, I start reading every issue as soon as it comes in the mail. Tells you not just how to make something, but why they are saying to make it that way and all the variations they went through to develop the recipe. Also has a wonderful website and tons of great links on their Facebook page too.

Cook’s Country A companion magazine to Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country focuses more on homestyle cooking, or cooking for larger groups. They regularly ask for reader submissions of vintage recipes and then after cooking them all up, let us know what the best vintage recipes are. Those vintage recipes are worth the price of subscription alone.

Catalogs and Web Sites

Bob’s Red Mill —  Based in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area (Milwaukie, Oregon to be precise), Bob’s Red Mill has really great wheat flours and tons of tons of specialty flours. If you are curious about various non-wheat flours, Bob’s Red Mill probably has it. Ground arrowroot, rice flour, barley flour, rye flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, and everything else you can think of. The packages all come with suggested recipes on the back. They also have some great mixes, like a soup mix that is beans and barley. Lots of recipes available on their website, also lots of cookbooks.

King Arthur Flour — Another flour and baking catalog, King Arthur Flour is based in the northeast U.S. Lots of really good wheat flours, also flavor additives, cheese powders, bread and bagel toppings, different types of bulk chocolate, baking tins, paper baking cups for things you’ll send out as gifts, all types of stuff. Recipes on their website and in each catalog. Lots of good cookbooks about baking and bread baking too. They have a really good baking cookbook, and also a really good whole grains baking cookbook.

Timeless Foods — If you want lentils, this is the place to go. Scarlet, golden, Du Puy, regular, Beluga, it’s all wonderful. Also some split peas and purple barley, but I love them for their lentils.

Spice Place — If you want spices mixes, this is the place to look. A lot of them are in restaurant quantities, but there’s a couple spice mixes I buy from here that I absolutely love so much I use them in restaurant quantities. I mainly go just to order spices, but their site says they are a whole online cooking community, so probably a lot more depth to the site than I’ve gotten into. They do pay attention to the customer, I got a very nice handwritten note with one order explaining that one of the spice mix companies had bought out another one, so even though the brand of mix I got was different than what I ordered, they wanted to assure me it was the same thing, just a different company name. I do $30-$100 orders a couple times a year, that level of attention even to small orders is nice to see!

Pendery’s — Another spice specialist, they have a catalog we regularly get. They have bunches of bulk spices and spice mixes, including some things common in the southern U.S. that we don’t see at all up north. Also tableware, novelty table items, things like bottle openers, aprons, a mortar and pestle both made entirely of sea salt, all types of stuff. LOTS of specialty cookbooks, I look through the catalog sometimes jut look at the cookbooks, and have bought holiday presents for relatives from their catalog (after buying about six cookbooks for myself the first time I ordered from them). Lots of hot spices, chiles and hot sauces.

Oil & Vinegar — I hadn’t thought to include this until I found out A Cook’s Wares was now semi-defunct (at least as far as an online presence goes) and I was trying to think where else I would find all the different types of vinegar they had. Oil & Vinegar is a franchise, so you’ll have to look up products by store. However, all their stores have an amazing selection of oils and vinegars, so it’s well worth checking out. They also have various spreads, spices, spice mixes, snacks, etc. Although it’s been a while since I’ve been in one, I’ve gotten an oil-marinated garlic spread there which was heavenly.

Catalogs I haven’t ordered from but seem worth mentioning anyway

Chefwear — Professional chef clothing, not just the double-breasted jacket (although they have that too), but shirts, bunches of types of aprons, lots of pants, clogs (including steel-toed clogs), if you want clothing to cook in Chefwear is a good place to look!

(Semi-defunct) A Cook’s Wares — Sadly, it looks like the owner of this catalog has decided to semi-retire and now only has one retail outlet in the northeast U.S. and is no longer trying to operate an catalog or online store. Very sad, as it was a very interesting catalog to browse through.

Useful Link – NICC Situation Report, if you’re ever curious about what parts of the U.S. are experiencing wildfires, full title is National Interagency Coordination Center Incident Management Report.

It’s updated quite regularly. No pretty pictures or links to news stories, just lists of how many wildfires are in the United States (also information at the end about wildfires in Canada, although that part is only updated weekly). Includes information like how many large fires, uncontained fires, how many of various types of teams are deployed, change in size of various fires, etc.

Got the link from a friend who is a volunteer fire fighter.


Mail order sources for sour cherries

A few years ago I tried a recipe for a tart cherry cobbler.

That was a big mistake, because the cobbler is great, and about a year later sour cherries became hard to find.

I was able to get some frozen one year, when one of the local grocery stores let people place orders for boxes of frozen fruit with a fruit and berry farm out of Oregon (I think it was Bithell Farms).

But as much as I checked, I missed the sign-up time for placing orders through that grocery store this year.

I know of only one grocery store in town that carries the canned sour cherries, and when I got some a couple years ago there they were about $5 per can. And these weren’t large cans, just the regular 14 ounce cans that most food comes in.

So digging around in the internet this morning, I found a few sources (I’m sure there’s others to be found with more searching, so this is by no means an exhaustive list):

  • Frank Farms in Michigan. Their frozen sour cherries are $7/lb or $35/5 lb bag. Yikes!!
  • Bithell Farms in Oregon. They do still have frozen sour pie cherries available as something to order. However, delivery time is limited, see their website for what times of the year they deliver to various states. And I didn’t see a price on their website, it may vary depending on distance, how large your order is, etc.
  • Surprisingly enough, the best option I found was to set up a subscriber order through Amazon for sour pie cherries canned in water. These are the same brand and can size I was getting in local grocery stores about four or five years ago, and quite a bit cheaper than the one store I could find them in two years ago. If you set up a subscription (which I did, for eight cans every two months), they are cheaper yet. Hooray!!!



Quote, August 24 2012 – Using volume & bile to win an argument

“If you have a case where the law is clearly on your side, but the facts and justice seem to be against you,” said an old lawyer to his son, who was about to begin the practice of the law, “urge upon the jury the vast importance of sustaining the law. On the other hand, if the law is against you, or doubtful, and the facts show that your case is founded in justice, insist that justice be done though the heavens fall.” “But,” said the young man, “how shall I manage a case where both the law and the facts are dead against me?” “In that case,” replied the old lawyer, “talk around it,” and “the worse it is, the harder you pound the table,” adds a modern commentator.

– 1911, The Work of the Advocate: a Practical Treatise, Second edition, Footnote 17, Page 390, Bobbs-Merrill Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, quoted in “Legal Advice: Pound the Facts, Pound the Law, Pound the Table” by Garson O’Toole on Quote Investigator, July 4, 2010 (site last visited August 24 2012)

I originally went looking for a quote I vaguely remembered as “If the law and the facts of the case are on your side, calmly explain this to the jury; if the facts are on your side but the actual wording of the law is not, raise your voice and emphasize the facts to the jury while avoiding questions of the law; if both the facts and the law are against you, take off your shoe and pound the table with it while yelling at the top of your lungs.”

Instead, I found the (much more authoritative) versions listed at O’Toole’s Quote Investigator article, of which I cited the earliest one.

For those of you wondering — like I would have been at one time, before I spent nine years in a field that was all about reading and applying regulations, with a few semesters of local business-college paralegal classes I took in the evening and online — how the law, justice and facts could be in conflict with each other, situations like that can happen more than you would expect.

For instance, under common law there were certain types of contracts which weren’t legally binding unless the contract was written. Contracts involving marriage, anything lasting more than a year, land, debts on an estate that the executor must pay out of their private funds, debts over a certain amount, and anyone promising to pay someone else’s debts are all types of contracts that are only legally binding if the contract is in writing. If someone entered into that type of contract but only verbally, not realizing that those contracts are unenforceable if unwritten, and then the other party broke the contract, that would be a case where the law would say the contract was unenforceable so there’s no recourse, while the facts of the case might make an onlooker say “the law was followed, but justice was not done”.

Some really interesting posts about lavender and lavender essential oil at Over the Teacups

Lovely Lavender Part One and Part Two by Tom Torkildson. Interesting history of how different cultures have viewed and used lavender, how lavender essential oil is made, and the many uses of lavender essential oil.

Four great benefits of pure lavender essential oil by Jedha. Antiseptic, pain relief, soothing and cosmetic too.

All of those are at Over the Teacups.

Technical note — If you have an old Aqua Genie valve for a well or cistern and it has failed, Cycle Stop Valves may be a replacement


This happened to my parents recently — their house water supply runs off a cistern. The Aqua Genie valve failed and was no longer regulating the water pressure, after some looking around we found Cycle Stop Valves were a replacement and the new valve and associated parts we put in have been working quite well for the last couple months.

I think the pside-kick was the model we got from Cycle Stop Valves, although I could be mistaken on that.

If you are not familiar with what these valves do, they reduce cycling of your water pump.

If you have a house with a well or cistern, then without some sort of pressure or flow regulator the water pressure spikes up when the water pump turns on, and after a short while (often, just a minute or two) switch controlling the water pump senses the water pressure is high enough and the pump shuts off. As you continue running water out of a shower head or faucet, the pressure rapidly drops to the point where the water pump turns back on and the pressure spikes up again.

With a pressure or flow regulator, the water pump comes on but with not as much pressure or flow, and if you have the reduced water pump rate matched with the your faucet or shower head flow rates, the pump will stay on as long as the faucet or showerhead is flowing at its full rate. You turn the faucet or shower off, the water pump continues to run for a few seconds to get the house system up to pressure, then the water pump shuts off until the next time someone uses the faucet or shower (or flushes the toilet, which also uses water).

At least, that’s how I understand it. Looking around the web, I found a forum where it appears the discussion had gotten quite heated. I was going to post the technical notes from a couple of forum entries, then a did a little bit more searching — who would have guessed that plumbing forums would have so much animosity? (Not me.)

So first off, my parents have had a Cycle Stop Valve (CSV) in the home water system for a couple of months now, it works great.

Secondly, here are some links for further reading, if you are interested:

All that aside, my parents are happy with their Cycle Stop Valve and so am I, since I live with them and it’s nice to have constant pressure from the shower and faucet again.

If you like Celtic fiddle music, or just great fiddle music in general, here are two sites to check out

Compass Records

Compass Records carries most (all?) of the albums which were originally released by Green Linnet. They also have albums from other companies such as Mulligan Records, Xenophile, Celtophile, and Tayberry.

Loftus Music

Loftus Music was started in 2007 by Kevin Burke, a wonderful Irish fiddler, as a way to produce his own recordings and recordings that he was involved in with other artists.

In particular, here are some artists you can find at those two titles who I would highly recommend:

Kevin Burke. Wonderful Irish fiddler, does traditional Irish fiddle music, also fiddle music from other parts of Europe.

John Cunningham. A great Scottish fiddler, now sadly deceased.

Celtic Fiddle Festival. Originally Kevin Burke, John Cunningham, Christian Lemaître, and Ged Foley, this was my introduction to Celtic fiddle music. Their albums are wonderful. In 2003 John Cunningham unexpected passed away, André Brunet joined the group and the album Play On is the first one released after that. (I’m not going to say that Brunet filled Cunningham’s spot, since those shoes would be almost impossible to fill & Brunet has a somewhat different style of music than Cunningham did; while Celtic Fiddle Festival’s music changed a little bit after the loss of Cunningham and addition of Brunet, both lineups are still wonderful. If you ever have a chance to see them live, don’t pass it up.)

Martin Hayes. Either solo or with Dennis Cahill, another incredible Irish fiddler.

New bulletin from Chouteau County FSA, look in the mail for a form CCC-931 for adjusted gross income for years 2009-2011

Bulletin sent out Friday. Full text of bulletin at

Some local producers will be receiving a letter in the coming days concerning the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) compliance requirements that were set forth in the 2008 Farm Bill. This mailing will also include form CCC-931. Producers that receive this mailing MUST complete the enclosed CCC-931 and return it to the Chouteau County FSA office within 30 days of receipt of the letter. . . . Many of the recipients of this letter may feel that they recently completed the CCC-931 form. The form that was recently completed, however, was for program year 2012, not 2009, 2010, or 2011. Again, producers receiving this letter are strongly encouraged to complete the enclosed CCC-931 and return it to the Chouteau County FSA office as soon as possible. For more information, please contact FSA at 406 622 5401 (ext 2).

The bulletin has additional information, as well as instructions and explanations for the entire form CCC-931.

Beautiful semi-precious stones at Designer Cabs

The site is, being the website for Designer Cabs, a family business in Branson, Missouri.

“Cabs” is short for cabochons, which are stones that are polished smooth and rounded, instead of faceted. Most opaque stones are made into cabochons, as faceting an opaque stone does not produce the flashes and sparkles of light that are produced by faceting a transparent stone.

If you like rocks and semi-precious stone, Designer Cabs is a nice site to browse through. Most of their stones are unmounted, although they do have a few pendants and rings. I look not so much to buy, but just to see what is out there. It is fascinating to see how much variety there is in semiprecious stones.

Because their stock changes with time, I’m not included any pictures from the site, you’ll have to look through it yourself. I found them through a recommendation in the book Designing from the Stone by Lisa Barth, which is also a very beautiful book if you like to look at semiprecious jewelry.



Really beautiful landscapes from Elizabeth Kirschenman

I ran across Elizabeth Kirschenman‘s art by accident while traveling in Canada a few years ago with a cousin. We stumbled upon a craft & art fair in one of the cities we visited and Kirschenman had a booth there (if you ever get to meet her in person, she is a very nice person).

She paints very beautiful watercolor landscape paintings. I bought a set of her greeting cards and looking her up on the web recently, I found that she displays art at the Grasslands Gallery in Val Marie, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Down Corner Coulee by Elizabeth Kirschenman

If you haven’t been around the Dakotas (U.S.), eastern Montana (U.S.), southern Alberta (Canada) or southern Saskatchewan (Canada), it’s arid grassland with occasional ravines or gullies. Those ravines or gullies are referred to as “coulees”.

River Ridges by Elizabeth Kirschenman

(Looking it up on the internet, I found the term coulee is derived from French / French Canadian words for “flow”. People from Montana, North Dakota, Alberta & Saskatchewan (and according to Wikipedia, eastern Washington and Louisiana also) usually know what a coulee is . . . People from other states or provinces are confused and wondering why we’re suddenly using old racist terms for manual laborers from Asia. Yes, I once had someone ask me that question when I mentioned coulees in Montana.)

Coulee Trail by Elizabeth Kirschenman

There’s lots of other nice art by other artists at the Grasslands Gallery page, including photographs, paintings and jewelry. It’s a nice site and I hope to see more of Kirschenman’s art posted there, as she is a great artist.

Quote, June 16 2012 — Some psychology tests show volunteers for psychology tests are pretty good at guessing what the test is about and what results the testers are looking for

“It’s a truly steep climb to cart unsuccessful replications of other scientists’ studies up Mount Publication. Major journals make no secret of preferring papers that describe novel advances and attract media attention, says psychologist Hal Pashler of the University of California, San Diego. Not surprisingly, failed replications often get filed and forgotten, meaning studies that support priming have gotten more attention than those that don’t.”

– Bruce Bower, “The Hot and Cold of Priming”Science News, May 19 2012 (site last accessed June 16 2012)

If you don’t read the article — or do read it and only remember one thing — the most important thing mentioned in Bower’s article “The Hot and Cold of Priming” is the site It’s a site for posting unpublished replications of previous psychological studies.

As mentioned in the I opened this article with, it’s a lot harder to get journals to publish attempted replications of previous studies that show the same result was not observed.

There’s a lot of detail I’m not going to go into, since Bower’s very good article already covers most of it. To briefly summarize:

  • “Priming” is the theory that people respond to subliminal cues. If you are holding a cup of warm coffee, you will have a warmer attitude toward strangers, and a colder attitude if you are holding a cup of cold liquid. If you read about older people, you’re going to move slower yourself since older people are generally regarded as moving slower.
  • Priming got a lot of publicity in 1996 when Yale University psychologist John Bargh published the results of a number of priming studies he had done. As an example, college students had to work with scrambled sentences. Students whose assigned work included sentence which contained words often associated with older people, such as “wrinkle” and “Florida”, took a second slower to walk down an exit hallway at the end of the study. [1]
  • When some other psychologists, including Stéphane Doyen of Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, tried to replicate Bargh’s experiments, they found a lot of the experiments’ results depended on whether the testers administering the experiment knew what results would be considered positive for the experiment (“positive” in the sense of showing an effect that is statistically significant).

And the fight is on . . . .

Skeptics of priming say that since the results repeat most reliably when test administrators are told what results the test is hoping to find, the tests actually show that volunteers for psychology tests are really consistent at noticing and responding to subtle unspoken cues from test administrators in order to get a result the test subjects think will make the test administrators happy. Since there was even a test where the test subjects were able to guess fairly accurately afterwards what the test was about and what effect it was trying to produce on them, it would follow that psychology tests need to be designed very very carefully and a lot of detail needs to be included in reports so everyone reading (and citing or relying on) the test results knows exactly what the test did and didn’t do.

Supporters of priming say no, the tests were fine, the skeptics introduced biases of their own by conducting the tests in different countries where various stereotypes (such as “old people are slow”) are not as prevalent.  And besides, say supporters, skeptics just don’t like the possibility that complex behavior can be affected so much by small subtle cues. So the skeptics are letting their own biases influence the results of their studies, but the original priming studies were fine. [2]

Whichever it is (personally, I think the skeptics have some pretty valid points), what is established very strongly in Bower’s article is a lot of psychology studies — and perhaps the whole field of psychology — could benefit from more openness, more attempts are replicating studies, more acknowledgement and publication of failed attempts at replication, and more rigorous thinking about the scientific method in general.

There’s a section in article about the “null hypothesis”. I’ll admit I didn’t completely understand it, but what I did grasp is psychologists come up with a null hypothesis that a certain variable doesn’t actually affect anything. Then they design a test that should turn out one way if the variable truly doesn’t affect anything, and if they can show a statistically significant affect associated with that variable, the hypothesis must be true.

But what that actually does (assuming I haven’t completely misunderstood or bungled the way I wrote that) is confuse causation with correlation. Just because two observed behaviors seem to be linked in some fashion doesn’t mean one causes the other.

However, the following section leads me to believe my explanation & criticism are not too far off the mark:

“At the San Diego meeting, psychologist Joseph Simmons of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia argued that researchers often arbitrarily exclude data considered unreliable, alter experimental conditions that don’t work as planned and otherwise fiddle with what goes into a final report. Cherry-picking data in this way masks the statistical weakness of published studies and raises doubts about many reports of statistical significance, he said.

For decades, a string of influential psychologists have recommended disposing of null hypothesis significance testing altogether, calling the approach an unscientific ritual that should be replaced by testing specific predictions. In the February Theory & Psychology, psychologist Charles Lambdin of Intel Corp.’s campus at Ronler Acres in Hillsboro, Ore., calls significance testing psychology’s “dirty little secret.”

A 5 percent significance level merely indicates that chance may not be responsible for slowed walking among readers of elderly references, Lambdin says. But the likelihood of any proposed explanation for the results remains unknown. In Bargh’s study, slow walking might be due to priming, subtle coaxing by experimenters, volunteers’ guessing the purpose of the study, a combination of all three or something else entirely. A rejected null hypothesis sulks in the corner, saying nothing about the relative merits of any potential reason for its existence.”

[1] Students taking a second slower to walk down a hallway is not what I would call earthshaking results. Yes, the experiments are looking for subtle effects, but unless that’s a really really short hallway, a single second sounds like statistical noise more than a statistically significant result to me.

[2] The argument against skeptics that the skeptics are just upset at the notion of small cues influencing complicated behaviors, and that’s why they design tests that fail to replicate original results, sounds to me like a red herring (although probably an unintentional use of one). There’s a whole separate topic that I need to write about one day regarding the belief among many people — especially academics, college graduates, and other designated “smart” people — that if someone feels an emotion about something, then they’re not capable of being objective and their arguments can be dismissed. I personally think this viewpoint is foolish at best and at worst a deliberate attempt to avoid a question by casting doubt on the questioner. If a question is a valid question, then it remains valid regardless of the emotional state of person asking the question. In fact, to me that is a test of whether a line of reasoning is well-constructed or not: does it still stand up to examination if you vary your assumptions about the reasoner’s state of mind?

If you’re seeing ads on Wikipedia, your computer is probably infected

More information here on Wikimedia‘s blog entry, “If you’re seeing ads on Wikipedia, your computer is likely infected with malware”, by Phillip Beaudette, May 14th 2012

Also covered on The Register, “Seeing ads on Wikipedia? Then you’re infected. Click fraudsters are milking you for cash”, by John Leyden, May 17 2012

“Planning for the Rest of Your Life” — Wonderful post by Randy Cassingham

Link is, from Randy Cassingham’s This is True Blog.

(Specifying it’s from his blog as he also has a great e-mail newsletter named This is True. If you’re not subscribed, check it out, it comes out once a week & has a free subscription option if you don’t a few ads in the middle of your newsletter.)

“Planning for the Rest of Your Life” is a really great & inspiring post by Randy about setting out to make a plan for your goals and figuring out how to get to those goals.

OK, But How Does It Work?

You can call it the “law of attraction” — putting your “energy” out to the “universe” so that it will respond with what you want (which is what I’m told the movie The Secret was about) — but I consider that a “woo woo” belief, and that doesn’t work for me. Maybe that works for you; if it does, great: that’s all the explanation you need. But you don’t have to look at it that way. I don’t.

Here’s how I look at it, with my “rational mindset”: we humans need to get our desires — our goals, our dreams, our best-case scenarios — clear in our minds, and nothing is better at making them clear than writing them down. Plus, you can edit your plans if you change your mind, or if you decide your goals are too easy to achieve (or too big to bite off within a reasonable time). Or when you do the “Why” parts, you might find that they’re so thin that you need better ones so that you’re truly motivated to achieve your goals. Or you might find your “beliefs” in that area are holding you back.

If you have a clear vision in mind, with good reasons why you should work toward that vision, and a step-by-step plan for getting there, and they’re aligned with your beliefs, and keep those details constantly in mind (is it becoming clear why you have to write it all down?!), your brain will help you get it done. You’ve “programmed” your brain to Make It So, and you’ve made it clear to yourself why it’s worth the work to get there.

Recommendation: Timeless Food, great place to buy lentils

Timeless Food,, is a great place to go if you are looking for lentils. They sell six different types in one-pound bags.

Timeless Food’s products can be found in many gourmet and natural food stores (their products are all organic). If you’re looking for a store in your area,  there is a store finder at this link.  I stumbled across Timeless Food’s lentils because 2J’s in Great Falls carries their products.

In addition to Green lentils, Timeless Food also offers Du Puy lentils, Pardina lentils, Black Beluga lentils, and also Harvest Gold lentils & Petite Crimson lentils.

If you’re not familiar with the different lentil types, the first four in my list are a bit more solid and are great for salads and soups. The last two types will cook up into a bit more delicate lentil, and are not only great when cooked regularly but also are excellent for pureeing for use in dips and other dishes. I’ve found pureed gold or crimson lentils are an excellent thickener for casseroles or soups, adding both flavor & thickening.

As well as lentils, Timeless Food also has Black Kabuli Chickpeas (an heirloom variety), Purple Prairie Barley (another heirloom), Golden Flax Seeds, and Yellow Split Peas.

And although I’ve been using their products for a few years now, it was only a couple months ago I looked at the packaging closely enough to realize they’re a Montana company. 🙂


On a side note, as with any other type of dried lentil or bean you need to sort through these lentils before tossing them in the pot to cook. Lentils & beans grow close to the ground & while farmers and combine harvester manufacturers try their best to make sure the only thing in a package of lentils is lentils, there may be the occasional small rock that couldn’t sorted out mechanically because it was the same size as a lentil.

And on another side note, on their history page Timeless Food said they are also home to Eighth Wonder, which is a really wonderful distributor of heirlooms rices from the Philippines. (I wasn’t able to find any Eighth Wonder rice for sale on Timeless Food’s site, but I’ll go back and look another time to see if there’s a way to order those rices online as well. Eighth Wonder was started by a Montana native who was in Philippines in the Peace Corps, adn then started the company after revisiting her host village and finding that they were not finding a market for their heirloom rices locally.)

Website design, text readability, & contrast — some interesting links

I ran across a site the other day called Web Pages That Suck. I started browsing & it has a lot of really good stuff — both humorous, but also very useful.

While reading through the 20 worst websites of 2011, I came across an extended rant discussion about contrast on web sites.

If you are building a web site & you want it to be readable, you need to look into contrast. (And if your website isn’t readable, probably no one will use it.)

One of the quickest guidelines I found is “view your site in monochrome”. If you put it in monochrome & it’s blah, with no visual landmarks or differentiation between sections, then you have a problem no matter how great your color scheme, layout or content is. (I’ve already read “view it in monochrome” in design tips for lots of other things, from drawing to jewelry design to photography.)

A really good — and very pointed — website about the need for contrast is Contrast Rebellion. And honestly, the graphics layout & design by themselves are really fun to look at. (I couldn’t the slideshows to work, but it’s such a minor part it doesn’t really detract from my enjoyment of the site.)

Web Designer Depot has a nice article on contrast in general, not just text & color, but size, placement, layout, etc.

It turns out the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) has developed a standard for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and contrast within a website is part of that standard. Some of the other sites I visited note that as people get older, their eyesight deteriorates, so a site that is no problems for someone who is 20 might cause big problems for someone who is 60.

While there’s a little bit of math at the WCAG contrast page I linked above, there’s quite a bit at the Wikipedia Visual Contrast page. I’m adding the link for that just so I can reference it later — I’m pretty good at math but I think it’ll be a long time before I get so concerned about contrast I start looking at those equations.

And A List Apart (one of my favorite sites to browse through anyway) had a really good March 2010 article titled “Contrast Is King”.

Some sites that are more tools-to-use-right-now (and yes, most of these were taken from the articles I just linked to, but part of the reason for this post is so I can go back & easily find this information for myself later):

Colors on the web lets you input the hexadecimal codes for two colors & tells you right away if they meet the recommended web design standards for contrast.

Check My Colours will let you type in a website address & it will test entire page for you. Thoroughly. Very thoroughly. Out of curiosity, I typed in the address for this little blog (which uses one of the premade premade themes) and in about 5 seconds, it told me it had tested 1185 elements and found 385 failures. Wow.

Color Scheme Designer helps you design color schemes, and will also show you the color schemes in monochrome & how the color schemes would be seen by people with different types of color blindness. In a post in October of last year I had a link to another color scheme design site, kuler. kuler has a bit more regarding ways to look at color schemes artistically — do they set a mood, are they cool or warm, etc? But I think I like Color Scheme Designer more, especially with the options to check monochrome contrast & see what colors look like to someone who is colorblind.

Speaking of colorblind, Colblindor is a blog all about color blindness (of which there are many types, and more men than women are colorblind, I didn’t know that before). There’s even a page on Colblindor that lets you upload an image then run it through different filters to see how it would look for various types of colorblindness.

And lastly, while I was digging around, I also found, a site with tons and tons of fonts. F0r all the talk about color & contrast, choosing a readable font is just as important too.