Friday, 8 April 2011

look for the clutter

a couple of days ago, ali and i were talking about how important having clean houses were to us. and we were just talking about clean versus clutter. we both wage a weak battle against entropy. and when that god of disarray wins, we often are able to not notice -- we aren't fond of admitting defeat.

long story short: this afternoon, i decided to go in search of the clutter. it was phenomenal! there was so much junk tucked away all over my house that i just didn't notice. anyway, its like i see the world differently . . . i'm going to let myself see the clutter so i don't have to just let it collect and spend an entire day just trying to see it . . . (blatant metaphor!)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

my boss gave me warning today :(

Important Message from Secretary Sebelius
For OS announcements to all of HHS
Sent:Tuesday, April 05, 2011 7:12 PM

Memorandum for All Employees

Throughout the discussions about funding for the rest of the fiscal year, the President has made it clear that he does not want a government shutdown, and the Administration is ready and willing to work day and night to find a solution with which Congress can agree. Given the realities of the calendar, however, prudent management requires that I plan for an orderly shutdown should Congress fail to pass a funding bill.

The President and I know that the uncertainty of the current situation puts federal employees in a difficult position, and are very much aware that a shutdown would impose hardships on many employees as well as the groups and individuals our Department serves. As we approach the expiration of the current CR, our leadership team will provide you with updated information as soon as it becomes available. For now, I want to provide you with information on how the potential shutdown – should it occur -- will impact Federal employees.

As soon as funding lapses, Federal departments and agencies will not be permitted to incur further financial obligations performing activities funded by annual appropriations, except those related to the orderly suspension of operations or performance of excepted activities. This means that some employees will be furloughed and unable to work. Our contingency planning for the potential funding lapse includes determining which agency functions are excepted from a furlough. Should it become necessary to implement our contingency plans, you will receive formal notice from your supervisor no later than Friday April 8.

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has created a document to address some of the questions that I know must be on your mind. The document can be accessed at OPM will provide additional pertinent information for federal employees as the week progresses. And our leadership team will do our very best to provide clear information about the status of events as the week progresses.

Thanks to the hard work and dedication of all of you, HHS provides critical health services to Americans and vital human services to some of most vulnerable citizens. Your contributions touch people’s lives in so many significant ways, and I want you to know how deeply I appreciate your dedication and your expertise. Thank you for your continued service to the Department and the Nation.


Kathleen Sebelius

i think it is really important to recognize that there are approximately 310 million Americans. A year ago the number of federal employees was 2.15 million. This furlough will bring unemployment rates up at least a whole percentage point . . . at least. So many federal employees aren't counted because they are hired via a contract. a weird secret of the reagan shrink-of-government, was that he just privatized heaps of stuff. so, government didn't actually shrink, it was outsourced, and ended up being more costly . . . one of the reasons we are in this mess.

the impact on the US economy will be brutal. many federal employees are living paycheck to paycheck. that means 2.15 million people will have a hard time paying their bills, buying food, etc. that is a LOT of revenue just stripped away from the economy is a quick swoope.

they talk about costs of the shutdown, but i haven't heard people talking about all of the employees who are suddenly not going to be able to afford to live . . . will all these employees then go on unemployment? what would you do?

Saturday, 2 April 2011

do you know about UMAMI?

i was supposed to be writing my hungary blog, but got down a weird internet wormhole that made me ask the question, "what is the taste tangy" . . . i searched all over and couldn't figure that out, but i discovered that there are 5 basic tastes, not 4 like i learned in school.

do you know that in 1985:
Umami was officially recognized as the scientific term to describe the taste of glutamates and nucleotides. Now it is widely accepted as the fifth basic taste. Umami represents the taste of the amino acid L-glutamate and 5’-ribonucleotides such as guanosine monophosphate (GMP) and inosine monophosphate (IMP).[8] It is described as a pleasant "brothy" or "meaty" taste with a long lasting, mouthwatering and coating sensation over the tongue. This is due to the detection of the carboxylate anion of glutamate in specialized receptor cells present on the human and animal tongue. Its fundamental effect is the ability to balance taste and round the total flavor of a dish. Umami clearly enhances the palatability of a wide variety of foods (for review Beauchamp, 2009). Glutamate in acid form (Glutamic acid) imparts little umami taste; whereas the salts of glutamic acid, known as glutamates, can easily ionize and give the characteristic umami taste. GMP and IMP amplify the taste intensity of glutamate
so there are FIVE basic tastes now (but actually 26 years): sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and UMAMI

these sentences helped me figure out what they are getting at:
  • Ripe tomatoes are rich in umami components.
  • Umami is a loanword from the Japanese umami (うま味?) meaning "pleasant savory taste".[6
  • One of Kuninaka's most important discoveries was the synergistic effect between ribonucleotides and glutamate. When foods rich in glutamate are combined with ingredients that have ribonucleotides, the resulting taste intensity is higher than the sum of both ingredients. This is why Japanese make dashi with kombu seaweed and dried bonito flakes, Chinese add Chinese leek and cabbage with chicken soup or Italians combine Parmesan cheese on tomato sauce with mushrooms. The umami taste sensation of those ingredients mixed together surpasses the taste of each one alone.
  • Umami has a mild but lasting after taste difficult to describe.
  • It induces salivation and a furriness sensation on the tongue, stimulating the throat, the roof and the back of the mouth
  • umami is not palatable, but it makes a great variety of foods pleasant especially in the presence of a matching aroma.[21] But like other basic tastes, with the exception of sucrose, umami is pleasant only when used within a relatively narrow concentration range.[19]
  • Umami taste is common to foods that contain high levels of L-glutamate, IMP and GMP, most notably in fish, shellfish, cured meats, vegetables (e.g.mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, etc.) or green tea, and fermented and aged products (e.g. cheeses, shrimp pastes, soy sauce, etc.)
  • The stomach can "taste" sodium glutamate using glumate receptors[33] and this information is passed to the lateral hypothalamus and limbic system in the brain as a palatability signal through the vagus nerve.[34]
it is pretty cool to think about what taste is for a little bit . . .
actually, i think hungary is umami: the people, cuisine, history, skyline, etc.