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Fried Egg Friday

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 12, 2021

Hi! This is a fried egg blog now. A couple of weeks ago, I shared how master chef Jacques Pépin fries an egg: as gently as the summer breeze on the cheek of a butterfly. That post resulted in several tweets and emails from people saying they had tried it and become instant converts. But like the old saying goes, there’s more than one way to fry an egg. A few years back, José Andrés showed Stephen Colbert how to make Spanish fried eggs:

I have to say…witnessing this technique (which is similar to those used in Asian cooking) blew my dang socks off. My favorite dinner for the past several months has been avocado toast and the key, IMO, is a crispy fried egg on top. I’ve slowly been upping the heat and amount of oil I use when frying, but Andrés has empowered me to go for broke next time with full power and deep oil. Can’t wait. (thx, @Erik_Naught_6)

Watch Two Korean Master Potters at Work

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 11, 2021

After the salt harvesting video I posted this afternoon, I got on a mini-roll watching videos from Eater’s Handmade series — specifically two Korean pottery videos. In the first video, master craftsman Yu Myeong Sik from the Kwangjuyo Group demonstrates how to make incredibly beautiful and delicate handmade bowls:

While in this one, Heo Jin Kyu shows how he makes huge pots used for fermenting kimchi called onggi:

As you might expect from the finished products, there are striking differences in their respective processes, but the level of craftsmanship and respect for traditional materials & practices are very similar.

Harvesting Salt From a Very Salty Lake

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 11, 2021

In this video, Eater visits Lake Retba in Senegal to watch how they harvest salt from the lake. As you’ll see, the process differs from harvesting sea salt. Lake Retba is so salty — Wikipedia has it listed as the world’s second most saline body of water, more than 10X saltier than the ocean — that salt crystals naturally form at the surface of the lake and then fall to the lake bed. Harvesting it then becomes a matter of collecting it from the bottom and the lake naturally replenishes the supply every 45 days or so.

Hey, Let’s Watch Jacques P├ępin Fry Eggs

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 29, 2021

Fried eggs are something almost everyone, regardless of culinary prowess, can cook. Even so, in the hands of a master chef like Jacques Pépin, even this simple dish can be improved upon. For starters, he uses waaaay more butter in the pan than most people probably do. And there’s water involved? The finished product looks amazing.

After you’re done watching that, you should check out Pépin making scrambled eggs:

And then finally, here’s Pépin making omelettes two ways (country/”American-style” and classic French):

Love that backhand plating technique!

How to Take a Walk During a Pandemic

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 25, 2021

With tongue in cheek, Jon Methven writes about what it’s like to take a walk during the pandemic.

My knapsack is full. I’ve stowed backup masks should I encounter any maskless pandemic denialists. I have Band-Aids, cotton balls and large-wound bandages, in case my run-in with the anti-maskers goes awry. I packed five gallons of backup sanitizer and a refill funnel. I have nine factory-sealed packages of antiseptic wipes. I packed face shields and oral swabs and disposable thermometers in case I need to self-test. I have a rolling oxygen tank. This jaunt is just what I need to unwind.

At least now people without kids know what it’s like leaving the house with a toddler.

How to Self-Rescue If You Fall Through Thin Ice

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 16, 2020

In this video, Kenton Whitman explains how to survive a fall through ice on a frozen lake or river.

The explanation could have been tighter and more engaging, but it gets really interesting around the 6:40 mark when Whitman ventures out onto some ice and falls through it to demonstrate the self-rescue technique (and he’s not wearing a wetsuit). Watching him relax to mitigate the cold shock response in realtime is spellbinding. His calmness really drives home that if you don’t panic and think clearly, you actually have a lot of time and energy to get yourself out of trouble. From the Four Phases of Cold Water Immersion:

While it varies with water temperature and body mass, it can take 30 minutes or more for most adults to become even mildly hypothermic in ice water. Knowing this is vitally important in a survival situation, since people would be far less likely to panic if they knew that hypothermia would not occur quickly and that they have some time to make good decisions and actions to save themselves.

Oh and don’t miss when Whitman gets back into the water so that you can see him climb out from another camera angle. Don’t try this at home, kids.

The Art of Traditional Japanese Wood Joinery

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 15, 2020

This video is three minutes and nine seconds of pure precision — welcome to the world of Japanese wood joinery. Carpenter Dylan Iwakuni wordlessly demonstrates taking two or more pieces of wood and (improbably, impossibly) making them one. Seriously, I am gobsmacked at how exactly these bits of wood fit together.

If you enjoyed that, you may want to check out another of Iwakuni’s videos, Making the “Impossible Joint”.

(via colossal & the kid should see this)

A Marvelous Marble Machine for Making Music

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 11, 2020

For the past four years, Martin Molin of the “folktronica” band Wintergatan has been building a marble machine that the band can use to make music. He’s documenting the entire build on YouTube in a long series of videos (149 and counting). The most recent videos show Molin’s test of the machine with thousands of marbles and his tweaking to get things juuuust right. In the one above, he makes several adjustments from failures observed from his last test and then runs 30,000 marbles through the machine.

These videos are long, so you’d be forgiven for skipping to the end just to see the machine in action, but Molin is really enthusiastic — obsessed in the best way — and is great at showing his work. People really digging into things, especially tangible mechanical things, and bringing us along for the ride is always interesting. (thx, sippey)

How Soy Sauce Is Made Using Traditional Methods

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 13, 2020

Since 1789, Fueki Syoyu Brewing has been making soy sauce using simple ingredients, big wooden barrels for aging, and traditional methods handed down through the generations to ensure the signature richness and taste of their product. This video from Eater takes us inside the brewery to see how the magic happens.

How to Be at Home

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 04, 2020

For the National Film Board of Canada, director Andrea Dorfman and poet Tanya Davis collaborated on this short film about how to stay connected with ourselves and feel a connection with others while spending time physically apart from other people. I liked this bit about hugging a tree:

Go outside if you’re able, breathe the air
there are trees for hugging
don’t be embarrassed
it’s your friend, it’s your mother, it’s your new crush
lay your cheek against the bark, it’s a living thing to touch

See also Davis and Dorfman’s previous collaboration: How to Be Alone. (thx, scotty)

The World’s Best Tree Felling Tutorial

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 29, 2020

Oh, I already know what you’re thinking. Who cares about how to cut a tree down? Who cares about 8 different ways to cut a tree down? Who cares about watching 45 minutes of 8 different ways to cut a tree down? I hear you. But this tree felling tutorial is actually really informative & entertaining and watching people who are good at their work, are good at explaining their work, and genuinely have a passion for what they do is always worthwhile. The top comments on the video are almost uniformly positive; here’s a representative remark:

I live off-grid in the forest (same mtn range as these guys) and for 30+ years I have been felling trees for fire-prevention, firewood, and home-milled lumber. I have fortunately never had an accident, but after watching this video I realized that was only dumb luck. After carefully studying this video (3 times through), as well as others on this channel, this year I have placed every tree exactly where I wanted (even the leaders) and I’ve done this in a much safer manner than before.

Did you know, for example, the extent to which tree fellers can accurately place a falling tree? I did not and their precision is impressive — I actually cheered when the tree fell during the sizwill cut demo.

Fantastic 3-D Animation of How Medieval Bridges Were Built

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 23, 2020

The animation above shows how bridges were built in medieval times, well before the advent of backhoes, cranes, and bulldozers powered by steam and gasoline. I could explain what you’re about to see, but you should just watch the video.

The bridge constructed in the video is the real-life Charles Bridge in Prague, which was built over several decades in the 14th and 15th centuries. From Amusing Planet:

Construction of the Charles Bridge started in 1357, under the auspices of King Charles IV, but it was not completed until the beginning of the 15th century. The bridge has 16 arches and 15 pillars, each shielded by ice guards. It’s 512 meters long and nearly 10 meters wide. The balustrade is decorated with 30 statues and statuaries depicting various saints and patron saints, although these were erected much later, between 1683 and 1714. To preserve these statues, they were replaced with replicas during the 1960s. The originals are at Prague’s National Museum.

Until the middle of the 19th century, the Charles Bridge was the only crossing on river Vltava, which made the bridge an important connection between Prague Castle and the city’s Old Town and adjacent areas.

When I was younger, I remember watching (and loving) a PBS series on the building techniques used to construct the pyramids in Egypt, Stonehenge, the Colosseum, and Incan buildings. That the internet is now overflowing with engaging history videos like this bridge video is truly wonderful.

How to Kick Your Phone Addiction Using Stop-Smoking Techniques

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 16, 2020

I don’t know if you’ve been listening lately, but yesterday’s episode of Kottke Ride Home was a particularly good one.

I was amused by the jetpack story (as well as Casey Niestat’s denial) and the idea that there’s a 50/50 chance we’re all living in a simulation is right up my alley. But I was most interested in the segment on how we can curtail our phone usage using proven techniques learned from people who have successfully quit smoking (aka the thing that people did with their hands when they had free moment before phones came along).

From the article by McKinley Valentine that Jackson highlighted:

I tried turning notifications off on every app. I just got anxious and opened the apps more often.

I tried deleting the apps that caused problems-social media, news, messages-from my phone. I ended up just accessing them in the browser.

I tried using apps like Stay Focused to block my access. I’d just disable them.

I tried just not checking my phone — the cold turkey method — and folks, it didn’t go great. All it did was add a layer of guilt to my bad habit and sour mood.

I thought: I have to get smarter about this. Who knows about addiction? What addiction has been studied in-depth, for decades, with an absolutely massive group of experiment subjects, to establish the best-practice methods? Cigarettes!

Valentine tried three main methods to kick her phone addiction habit: substitution, urge-surfing, and following the techniques in Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. Carr’s advice was the most effective:

Carr notes that there is a huge disconnect between what we want and what we actually enjoy. They’re different neurological processes. That’s why you can desperately crave, for example, an entire blueberry cheesecake, but when you actually eat it, it’s only OK. Or why you often don’t feel like going out with your friends at all — it seems like kind of a hassle — but when you actually see them, you have an amazing time.

So Carr recommends working to really notice and internalise that disconnect. He tells smokers to pay attention to their next cigarette. It’s like mindfulness but for noticing the unpleasantness. How does it taste? Not, “how did you imagine it would taste when you were craving it,” but how does it actually taste? Does it smell nice? Do your hands smell nice? How do you feel — do you actually feel more relaxed, or do you feel worse?

Wow, “a huge disconnect between what we want and what we actually enjoy”…boy, have I observed that in my life many times. Gonna totally use this on some of my less constructive pandemic coping habits… (via kottke ride home)

How Artisanal French Butter Is Made

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 14, 2020

In Brittany, France, Le Beurre Bordier still makes butter by hand using wooden machines. In this video, we travel to their small factory and meet artisan butter maker (and goofy chap) Jean-Yves Bordier to see how they make what some people call the best butter in the world.

To Jean-Yves, the malaxage is a more romantic way to make butter. At his workshop, everything is churned, kneaded, and shaped by hand.

Bordier is such a character, and it’s genuinely delightful to see how he thinks like an artist about his work. (via colossal)

The Death of Rice

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 23, 2020

Oh god, I needed this video in my life this morning. Watch as Uncle Roger (a character created by comedian Nigel Ng) hilariously critiques a BBC Food video about how to cook fried rice. Spoiler alert: the cook drains the rice in a colander and then rinses it with water. Oh, and no MSG.

If you sad in life, use MSG. If you happy in life, use MSG. Put MSG in everything, it’ll turn it better. You just get a baby? Put MSG on baby, it’ll be better baby, smarter.

On Instagram, Uncle Roger shared how to cook rice properly.

Uncle Roger have many white friend tell me they use saucepan. Saucepan? Haiyaaa. World War II is over, use technology. Proper Asian use rice cooker.

(via @jennyyangtv <— this thread is an entertaining read as well)

Update: Uncle Roger meets up with the woman who cooked the egg fried rice in the BBC video:

How to Read a Scientific Paper

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 03, 2020

With the Covid-19 pandemic and the reams of research scientists are producing in trying to understand it, many people are reading scientific research papers for the first time. Long-time science writer Carl Zimmer, who estimates he’s read tens of thousands of them in his career, provides some useful guidance in how to read them.

When you read through a scientific paper, it’s important to maintain a healthy skepticism. The ongoing flood of papers that have yet to be peer-reviewed — known as preprints — includes a lot of weak research and misleading claims. Some are withdrawn by the authors. Many will never make it into a journal. But some of them are earning sensational headlines before burning out in obscurity.

In April, for example, a team of Stanford researchers published a preprint in which they asserted that the fatality rate of Covid-19 was far lower than other experts estimated. When Andrew Gelman, a Columbia University statistician, read their preprint, he was so angry he publicly demanded an apology.

“We wasted time and effort discussing this paper whose main selling point was some numbers that were essentially the product of a statistical error,” he wrote on his blog.

Developing research-reading skills can also be helpful for activists attempting to drive change using data about policing & racism in America. (Just be aware that recent scientific studies have shown the limitations of facts in changing human minds.)

Dad, How Do I…?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2020

When he was a kid, Rob Kenney had a rough family life and grew up without stable parents around to teach him how to do common household chores. He and his wife successfully raised two children and Kenney decided to use his parenting experience to help those who may be lacking parental guidance. He’s started a YouTube channel called “Dad, how do I?” that offers “practical ‘dadvice’ for every day tasks” like how to fix a running toilet, how to check the oil in your car, and how to shave your face.

My god, the dad joke he tells at the beginning of the running toilet video is just *chef’s kiss* perfect.

Jim Henson Demonstrates How to Make Your Own Puppets

posted by Jason Kottke   May 01, 2020

In this charming video from 1969, right before Sesame Street premiered on PBS, Jim Henson spends about 15 minutes showing how to make simple puppets out of materials you might have handy at home: cardboard, plastic cups, fabric, wooden spoons, potatoes, etc. Joining him was the designer of the Muppets, Don Sahlin.

He is “the inventor” of the Muppet look, from a design point of view. As discussed in the book Jim Henson’s Designs and Doodles, many of the Muppets began as Henson’s rough sketches, which Sahlin then built and modified as needed… Sahlin was known to refer to himself as the “guardian of the essence” of the Muppets.

Henson’s Kermit-y voice is super soothing. What a great find by the indispensable Kid Should See This.

Build Your Own Magically Floating Lego Tensegrity Sculpture

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 23, 2020

Ok, take a look at this short video of a Lego structure. Whaaaaat kind of sorcery is this?!

The top part of the structure appears to be floating, held aloft by plastic chains seemingly incapable of supporting the load. This is an example of a tensegrity sculpture, in which tension (and not compression) is used to carry weight.

If you want to build your own, the instructions and parts list are available and you can watch this tutorial as well:

(via colossal)

Boots & Cats: A World Champ Explains the 13 Levels of Beatboxing Complexity

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 06, 2020

This is fantastic: former beatboxing world champion Butterscotch explains the 13 levels of complexity involved in beatboxing, from the simple “bass drum” to how to breathe while beatboxing to singing to emulating real instruments.

Expert beatboxers go so fast that it’s amazing to see someone with Butterscotch’s skill level break this down — like watching a water balloon bursting in slow motion. Her short explanation & demonstration of “breathing within the beat” bleeeewww my tiny little mind. Also, she is soooo good — what a treat to watch.

See also Robert Lang on the 11 Levels of Complexity of Origami, Tony Hawk on the 21 Levels of Complexity of Skateboard Tricks, and A Demonstration of 16 Levels of Piano Playing Complexity.

Update: Phil Guillory is a speech-language pathologist and he wrote up a technical analysis of Butterscotch’s explanation of beatboxing. It is gloriously nerdy and I love it.

Humming adds a really interesting layer to this. The act of humming itself is a natural nasal sound. The soft palate, or velum, is relaxed, allowing airflow into the nasal passages. Humming requires glottic closure in order to vibrate vocal folds, and those vibrations resonate up the oropharynx and, because the lips are closed, the air then has to travel into the nasopharynx to be released. When Butterscotch adds percussive beats on top of the hum, if there truly is nasal airflow, that would mean that her velum isn’t fully contacting the pharyngeal wall, and there would be a combination of nasal and pharyngeal air flow. Obviously, a video like this won’t allow us to visualize, so we’ll have to make a couple of assumptions here: a combination of oral and nasal airflow would (1) reduce the loudness of the beats while (2) also reducing the loudness of the hum itself. This is because air would be traveling in two directions, so there would be less pressure for both, and thus, less loudness and resonance. Given that the hum sounds pretty consistent, I think it’s safe to guess that Butterscotch is able to relax her velum to allow for nasal airflow voluntarily, which is indeed a very challenging thing to do given that velar movement is largely automatic. Super cool.

How to Shop Safely in a Pandemic

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 26, 2020

Note: Please check the updates below for some important corrections to some of the information in this video.

From Dr. Jeffrey VanWingen MD, a video on how to ensure that your grocery shopping experience is as safe as possible and to avoid potential COVID-19 infection from plastic and metal surfaces. I’m going to be honest with you: a lot of this seems like overkill (as it should — see the Paradox of Preparation). However, this is also pretty much what I’ve been doing after grocery shopping for the past 2 weeks because I am a fastidious motherfucker1 with plenty of time to wipe down groceries. If it comes down to a choice between watching 7 more minutes of The Mandalorian or wiping down my groceries before putting them in the fridge, I’m gonna wipe them groceries. Baby Yoda can wait.

See also this PDF from Crumpton Group about how to keep your household free of the outside effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Household members should understand that their principal effort should be directed towards isolating the inside of the home from the pandemic effects outside. All physical thresholds of the home will serve as a cordon sanitaire. Strive to decontaminate everyone and everything to the best practical degree before entering.

Many of Dr. VanWingen’s recommendations mirror those in the PDF. See also expert guidance on COVID-19 and food safety. (thx, meg)

Update: I have not had a chance to read it yet (was attending to some other things this evening — family, trying to have some normalcy), but I’ve been told that this thread is a good response to the video above. I’ll have a closer look at it tomorrow.

Update: Ok, I’ve read Don Schaffner’s thread criticizing this video. At least I think this is the video he’s referring to because he never says it outright — which I’ll get to in a minute. (Schaffner is a professor in the food science department at Rutgers who I linked to the other day in my post on COVID-19 and food safety.) As he notes, there are a couple of factual errors and VanWingen does offer some dubious advice, particularly about washing food with soap (which I didn’t take seriously). I do not believe, however, that VanWingen was suggesting that people leave frozen items and perishables in a warm garage for 3 days and that the normal rules of food safety are somehow countermanded by potential coronavirus contamination. If you want to leave that box of Cheerios that you don’t need in the car for 3 days, go right ahead. He definitely should have been clearer on that point though.

But the bulk of VanWingen’s video was about how to handle your groceries and takeout food coming into your house to minimize the chance of infection. (And as I mentioned, much of it mirrors the advice in this document and in Dr. Michael Lin’s document from a couple of weeks ago — this isn’t just his opinon or my opinion.) If we are to take seriously a) the assumption that anyone could have COVID-19 (including yourself & grocery workers) that we are operating under w/r/t to handwashing & keeping a 6-foot distance, b) the preliminary results that suggest that SARS-CoV-2 can last on some surfaces for days, and c) that person-to-surface-to-person transfer of SARS-CoV-2 might result in infection (i.e. the reason we are doing all this handwashing and face not-touching), then we should be disinfecting surfaces that other people have been touching recently. Right? We should assume that all surfaces are contaminated. This doesn’t seem outlandish, especially when grocery stores are restocking shelves continuously — that bag of chips that you put into your cart may have been placed on the shelf only 30 minutes before. How is disinfecting your Oreos package when you get home from the store a bad idea? Sure, wash your hands before you eat, but if you have kids, you know how futile that can be sometimes, especially when Oreos are involved. So why not just clean the package? Ditto with transferring takeout food to new containers and giving it a blast in the microwave to warm it up.

Schaffner’s stance is that most surfaces aren’t contaminated to a high degree, which is undoubtably true. Having watched the video & read Schaffner’s advice (and other advice by other experts), where your personal comfort level with making sure the surfaces you and your family come into contact to are disinfected is up to you. Ultimately, advice from experts is still advice and you have to figure out whether it works for you. It’s easy to believe you should wash your hands frequently because that’s universal advice. But “you should disinfect surfaces you touch” and “you don’t have to worry too much about disinfecting your grocery packages” are genuinely conflicting bits of advice from well-meaning experts! You’ve gotta use your noggin and make up your own mind, based on your personal idea of risk and safety. It’s gonna land differently with different people.

Finally, I’m going to get a little cranky here, but I found Schaffner’s overall tone in the first few tweets of that thread mocking, ungenerous, and unhelpful. Instead of gently offering alternative authoritative advice, he subtweeted (by refusing to link to the video and calling Dr. VanWingen not by his name but referring to him as “the video MD”) and made fun of VanWingen’s outfit. I know it must be frustrating to see what you perceive as misinformation out there, but we do not need Doctor vs Doctor battles here. Everyone’s just going to get defensive and dig their heels in. </cranky>

Update: From Joseph Allen of Harvard’s School of Public Health, Don’t panic about shopping, getting delivery or accepting packages.

Yes, the virus can be detected on some surfaces for up to a day, but the reality is that the levels drop off quickly. For example, the article shows that the virus’s half-life on stainless steel and plastic was 5.6 hours and 6.8 hours, respectively. (Half-life is how long it takes the viral concentration to decrease by half, then half of that half, and so on until it’s gone.)

And here’s how to take reasonable precautions when getting a package delivery or going to the grocery store:

You can leave that cardboard package at your door for a few hours - or bring it inside and leave it right inside your door, then wash your hands again. If you’re still concerned there was any virus on the package, you could wipe down the exterior with a disinfectant, or open it outdoors and put the packaging in the recycling can. (Then wash your hands again.)

What about going to the grocery store? The same approach applies.

Shop when you need to (keeping six feet from other customers) and load items into your cart or basket. Keep your hands away from your face while shopping, and wash them as soon as you’re home. Put away your groceries, and then wash your hands again. If you wait even a few hours before using anything you just purchased, most of the virus that was on any package will be significantly reduced. If you need to use something immediately, and want to take extra precautions, wipe the package down with a disinfectant. Last, wash all fruits and vegetables as you normally would.

Important caveat: the coronavirus half-life times are for room temperature. For colder temperatures (like in the fridge or especially the freezer), the virus will last longer. So maybe wipe down that bag of frozen peas even if you’re not going to use them for a couple of days.

  1. Hey, if you don’t know what you should be doing in a certain situation w/r/t to coronavirus, just ask your most detail-oriented friend. You know, the one who shows up to things on time and is usually a fussy pain in your ass. They’ll have a plan all ready to go and will be happy to share it with you because they’ve been waiting YEARS for some shit like this to happen. NOW IS OUR TIME TO SHINE!

How to Wash Your Hands Properly

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 13, 2020

Most humans have been washing their hands since childhood, but I bet very few of us have been doing it correctly. Because of the effectiveness of hand-washing with soap in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the CDC and the WHO (and health professionals everywhere) both make it their top recommendation and provide guidance on how to do it properly: CDC hand-washing instructions, WHO hand-washing instructions.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.

Here’s a video from the WHO on proper hand-washing technique (and a similar one from Johns Hopkins that has subtitles):

And a graphic from the WHO:

Wash Hands Instructions

And if you’re getting sick of singing Happy Birthday while washing your hands, a site called Wash Your Lyrics can help you make a hand-washing infographic with your favorite song’s lyrics.

Recipe for Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 12, 2020

Many stores have long since sold out of hand sanitizer in the US and washing your hands is a better move anyway, but if you’d like to have some sanitizer on hand for when you can’t get to a sink, the World Health Organization has you covered. The WHO recipe is for making 10-liter batchs, so Popular Science helpfully scaled it down to a more reasonable size:

1 cup 99% isopropyl alcohol
1 tablespoon 3% hydrogen peroxide
1 teaspoon 98% glycerin/glycerol
1/4 cup, 1 tablespoon, and 1 teaspoon sterile distilled or boiled cold water

To the alcohol, add the hydrogen peroxide & glycerin and stir or shake if you’re mixing in a container with a lid. Then add the water.

For COVID-19 prevention, the CDC recommends a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol; this recipe will end up being about 75% alcohol. The Popular Science piece also includes another recipe for a hand sanitizing gel that’s much closer to store-bought gels that involves mixing isopropyl alcohol, aloe vera gel, and tea tree oil. They also note that vodka does not contain enough alcohol to meet the CDC’s recommendation, especially when mixed with the other ingredients.

How to Make Aleppo Soap Using Traditional Methods

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 24, 2020

Since 1945, Syrian company Pearl Soap has been using traditional centuries-old methods of making “Aleppo soap” from olive oil and laurel oil. Here’s how they do it (I love the contraption they use to cut the soap):

After cutting, the soap is stacked and aged:

The cubes of soap are then stacked in staggered cylinders to allow maximum air exposure. Once they have dried sufficiently, they are put into a special subterranean chamber to be aged for one year.

You can’t buy Pearl’s soap directly from their website and I couldn’t find it anywhere else, but Aleppo soap from other makers is widely available on Amazon and Etsy. (via huit denim)

Russian Multiplication: A Different Way to Multiply

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 24, 2020

I’ve loved math since I was a kid. One of the big reasons for this is that there’s always more than one way to solve a particular problem and in discovering those solutions, you learn something about mathematics and the nature of numbers.1

In this video, math fan Johnny Ball shows us a different method of multiplication. In Russian multiplication (also called Ethiopian multiplication and related to ancient Egyptian multiplication), you can multiply any two numbers together through simple addition and doubling & halving numbers. The technique works by converting the numbers to binary and turning it into an addition problem.

I loved learning about this so much that I scribbled an explanation out on a napkin at brunch yesterday to show a friend how it worked. We’re friends because she was just as excited as I was about it. (via the kid should see this)

  1. I’ve probably told this story here before, but for an assignment in a quantum mechanics class in college, we had to derive an equation using two different techniques. After much struggle at the whiteboard on a Saturday morning, a friend and I got the results of these two approaches to converge on the same answer and it felt like we had unlocked a deep secret to the universe.

How to Make a Kurzgesagt Video (in Just 1200 Hours)

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 19, 2020

In this video, Kurzgesagt shares their process of making their unique brand of explainer video.

They estimate it takes about 1200 hours of time for each video. I love Kurzgesagt’s videos and am happy to support them on Patreon.

Map of Areas Most Often Missing During Handwashing

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 17, 2020

With news of more than 70,000 confirmed cases and 1700 deaths from the COVID-19 virus, the importance of handwashing is once again front and center. Using data from a 1978 study on the hygiene of health professionals, this is a map of the most missed areas when washing hands.

Hand Washing Map

This more recent paper contains a short review of various studies of missed areas, most of which conclude that people often forget to wash their fingertips:

In 2008, the WHO designed a handwashing leaflet, making reference to Taylor, who indicated that the fingertips, interdigital areas, thumbs, and wrists are the most commonly missed areas in handwashing. Pan et al. also found that the tips of the nails and the fingertips had the largest amount of residual florescent stains left after handwashing among healthcare workers in Taiwan. The commonly missed areas among medical students in the study conducted by Vanyolos et al. was the first metacarpal, the proximal part of the palm (lateral), the distal phalanges, and the nail beds. In healthcare workers in Škodová et al.’s study, the thumbs and fingertips were the most commonly missed areas. In this study, the most frequently missed area was also the fingertips. However, the medial aspect and back of the hand were the second and third most missed areas, respectively. Moreover, the interdigital area and the front and back of the fingers were the least missed areas, which is in contrast to Taylor’s study.

So wash those fingertips! Here’s the CDC-recommended guide to washing your hands properly.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

See also this TED Talk on how to properly dry your hands with a paper towel. (via a map a day)

Advice from Medieval Monks on Avoiding Digital Distraction

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 10, 2020

For Aeon, historian Jamie Kreiner writes about what advice medieval monks might have for us on avoiding the distractions of our phones, social media, and Netflix.

Medieval monks had a terrible time concentrating. And concentration was their lifelong work! Their tech was obviously different from ours. But their anxiety about distraction was not. They complained about being overloaded with information, and about how, even once you finally settled on something to read, it was easy to get bored and turn to something else. They were frustrated by their desire to stare out of the window, or to constantly check on the time (in their case, with the Sun as their clock), or to think about food or sex when they were supposed to be thinking about God. They even worried about getting distracted in their dreams.

John Cassian, an influential figure in early Christian monasticism, wrote about how to fortify yourself against these sorts of distractions.

Some of these strategies were tough. Renunciation, for instance. Monks and nuns were supposed to give up the things that most people loved — families, properties, businesses, day-to-day drama — not only to erode their sense of individual entitlement but also to ensure that they wouldn’t be preoccupied by that stuff in their professional lives of prayer. When the mind wanders, the monastic theorists observed, it usually veers off into recent events. Cut back your commitments to serious stuff, and you’ll have fewer thoughts competing for your attention.

Restraint had to work on a physiological level, too. There were many theories in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages about the connection between the mind and body. Most Christians agreed that the body was a needy creature whose bottomless appetite for food, sex and comfort held back the mind from what mattered most. That didn’t mean that the body must be rejected, only that it needed tough love. For all monks and nuns, since the very start of monasticism in the 4th century, this meant a moderate diet and no sex. Many of them also added regular manual labour to the regimen. They found it easier to concentrate when their bodies were moving, whether they were baking or farming or weaving.

Abstract Photographs of the Colorful Insides of Golf Balls

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 16, 2020

James Friedman Golf Balls

James Friedman Golf Balls

James Friedman Golf Balls

James Friedman is primarily a documentary and street photographer, but for his Interior Design project, he went abstract and captured the insides of golf balls.

For some viewers, my photographs from this series, titled Interior Design, allude to celestial bodies and the sublime. For me, their serendipitous structural exquisiteness and their subtle and passionate arrays of colors have inspired new exploration in my photography; I am particularly delighted to see the diminutive golf balls transformed into 36” x 36” prints.

Incidentally, I do not play golf.

Here’s a 1966 British Pathé film about how golf balls are made (compare w/ a more modern process):

See also Friedman’s short account (w/ photos) about photographing Andy Warhol at a 1978 art opening. (via dense discovery)

An Introvert’s Guide to Cancelling Plans (Without Losing Your Friends)

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 20, 2019

Olga Khazan writes about How to Flake Gracefully:

I am the queen of cancellation.”Heyyyyy guyyyyyyyssss-” begins a typical email from me backing out of plans, yet again. (The Ys multiply the guiltier I feel, and the more recently I’ve no-showed.) A book thing came up, and it has to be done by Monday, so I can’t use that non-transferable ticket you got me after all. Or I’m sick, again. But actually sick this time — not pretending to be sick so I can run errands without making anyone mad. To make time to copyedit something, I canceled on a work party of my boyfriend’s, then canceled on my own work party for good measure. I’ve started feebly sending this same boyfriend to social engagements in my stead, like a sad foreign minister from Flake Nation.

Part of the secret is not to overbook yourself in the first place. I’m a long-time practitioner of this technique — I say a straightforward no to lots of things, and if I say yes to something, I almost never cancel. And lately I’ve been saying yes more often, because as Khazan writes, getting out and doing stuff, even if it’s potentially uncomfortable and maybe not even your cup of tea, is part of caring for yourself. Human souls are not meant to be left on shelves; they need to run and play with others in the real world. Still though, as an introvert, I have to admit that nothing feels better than when someone cancels plans with me. The pure luxury of unanticipated JOMO knows no equal.