General Archive

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Where Have I Been

Quora LogoIt's been a while since I've posted anything on here. For a while, there, my goal was a post per week, and I was doing pretty good at it. Then, I discovered Quora, a high-quality question-and-answer site. It's kind of like social media for nerds. Basically, people post questions, and then other people write answers. Users can upvote or downvote the various answers. There's a 'feed' where you can browse through and read answers. You can choose topics you're interested in, or particular users you want to follow. The feed algorithm also uses your past Quora browsing history to choose answers you might be interested in.

What makes Quora so much better than a site like Yahoo Answers is the quality of the users and the subsequent content they create. There's a NASA instructor and flight controller, Robert Frost, who's very prolific about answering technical questions about space travel or the workings of NASA. There are actual astronauts like Clayton Anderson. There are former fighter pilots like John Chesire to answer with a first person perspective on flying military and commercial jets. There are best-selling authors like Mercedes Lackey, Helena Schrader, and Orson Scott Card. There's the actual founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales. From time to time, they'll get well known experts in various fields to participate in answer sessions, such as Bart Ehrman and even Barack Obama. And then there are tons of intelligent and knowledgeable people, whose names you may not recognize, but who make great contributions.

Besides the community of contributors, Quora has a few things going for it that I don't have on my personal blog. Perhaps the two biggest are the built-in reader base and the built-in infrastructure. Even at my blog's peak popularity a few years ago, I didn't have many regulars. I would write an entry, and hope that people found it to read it. On Quora, I know there's a somewhat guaranteed audience. There are the people following whatever question I'm answering, the people following me in particular, and then any larger group the answer might get forwarded on to if it turns out to be popular. My most popular Quora answer has been viewed by over 250,000 people, and my next most popular, which I actually like better, has been viewed by just under 50,000 people. And compared to the page views on my personal website stats, I think the Quora stats tend more towards real people as opposed to spammers and bots. Quora has the readership and infrastructure to ensure that what I write actually gets read.

Another advantage is that it's highly interactive. It's not just me posting my own views. It's seamless to read what other people are writing. On days when I'm bored and only feel like being passive, I can just go and read other people's answers on Quora. And those answers can be quite educational. And if I come across something I'm actually interested in responding to, I can tag it for later. In fact, that brings up another advantage - a ready made pool of material to write about. Plus, because somebody had to post the question to begin with, I know that there's at least some interest in the topic.

So, I haven't abandoned this blog or website entirely, but I only have so much time per day to write. And right now, my main focus has shifted to writing on Quora. I'll still post more blog-appropriate posts from time to time, and just maybe reincarnate my Friday Bible Blogging series. But for now, if you're interested in reading things I write, go check out my profile on Quora. If you really like it, sign up for the site and 'follow' me.

Jeff Lewis's Profile on Quora

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Good Sources of Potassium

FoodSo I wrote an entry about two years ago about how I lost 40 lbs in 6 months. For the most part, I've managed to maintain my new weight, creeping up a few pounds every so often before focusing again to recover. I've also been kind of off again on again as far as exercise. A lot of that is due to breaking my foot and severely twisting my ankle last summer, along with a nagging case of tennis elbow that gets aggravated if I work out too intensely (which both sound better than attributing it to laziness).

Anyway, right now I'm in the midst of one of my 'recoveries' (for the record, I am currently lighter than my last weigh-in in that 2 year old entry - that entry was before I'd reach my target weight), and I'm also trying to get back in the routine of exercising, but I've been getting more leg cramps than normal. So, I figured I'd try to get a bit more potassium in my diet. And my first thought was, obviously, bananas. They seem to be everyone's go to food source for potassium. But, I decided to do a bit of research, first, and was surprised that there are actually quite a few foods that are better sources of potassium.

So, here's a list comparing the potassium levels in various foods, sorted by the most mg of potassium per calorie.

Food Serving Size, g Serving Size, oz Calories per Serving K per serving, mg K per cal, mg/cal
Zucchini 196 6.91 33 512 15.52
Asparagus 100 3.53 20 202 10.10
Broccoli 148 5.22 50 468 9.36
Brussels Sprouts 88 3.10 38 342 9.00
Green Bean 100 3.53 31 209 6.74
Potato 213 7.51 163 897 5.50
Strawberry 100 3.53 33 153 4.64
Black Bean 100 3.53 339 1500 4.42
Kidney Bean 100 3.53 333 1406 4.22
Banana 118 4.16 105 422 4.02
Pinto Bean 100 3.53 347 1393 4.01
Pineapple 100 3.53 50 109 2.18
Granny Smith Apple 100 3.53 58 120 2.07

Since I did this research for myself, those are all foods that I like and tend to eat fairly regularly - in other words, lots of savory vegetables, not so many sweet fruits*. I'm rather glad. I'd much rather eat a bit more asparagus, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts than have to eat a banana every day. And I'm really excited that potatoes have more potassium than bananas.

Anyway, I just thought this was interesting, and worth sharing with anyone else looking to get a bit more potassium in their diets.

Related Entries (including updates):


*I actually do eat a Granny Smith apple almost every day, but obviously, they're a lot more tart than most fruits. I also like strawberries and pineapples from time to time, but again, they're more tart than typical fruits.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fastnacht Day 2018

I'm actually remembering to make this post the day before Fastnach Day this year, as a reminder for people to stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up what they'll need to make fastnachts tomorrow morning.

Now, there's a good chance you don't know what fastnachts are. Since I'm lazy and have already written about fastnachts before, I'm just going to straight up copy my post from last year (well, with a handful of tiny edits).

You may call Fastnacht Day something else like Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, but if you grew up in the same part of Pennsylvania as me, it's definitely Fastnacht Day (pronounced foss-not*). Fastnachts are more or less a potato based donut. They're a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition** (meaning it was originally a German tradition) to use up all the fat and sugar and before starting the Lenten fast. We even got them in school lunches when I was in elementary school (and I'd suspect they still do). Well, I don't do the traditional fast anymore, but I definitely keep up with a tradition of making good food.

If you want to try making them yourself, just stop on the way home from work to buy the ingredients you'll need (because I'm guessing you don't keep buttermilk in the fridge), and make a batch. Here's the recipe my family uses:

Here are a couple pictures from when my daughter and I made them last year (we had to wake up pretty early). Since we were running a little late, everybody was grabbing fastnachts to take with them before they were all done, so I didn't get a picture of the entire completed double batch.

Alex Cutting the Fastnachts Frying Up the Fastnachts

And to give an idea of how popular fastnachts are in that part of Pennsylvania, here are a few articles from local newspapers up that way, along with the Wikipedia entry.

So go get yourself a fastnact tomorrow. If you're not near Pennsylvania Dutch country and don't feel like making them yourself, at least go buy yourself a cake donut and pretend it's a fastnacht.


*The original German is a bit different. In fact, a German coworker said they were called fasnachtk├╝chle where he was from in Germany, but I couldn't pronounce it. Though I have other German friends from a different part of Germany, and they'd never heard of the tradition. So I guess it's regional in Germany, too.

**Just to be clear, Pennsylvania Dutch is not synonymous with Amish and Mennonite. Granted, the Amish and Mennonites still stick to Pennsylvania Dutch traditions the strongest, especially in still speaking the language, but there were/are lots of other Pennsylvania Dutch people.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Big Christmas Post, 2017

Christmas TreeIt's the first full week of December, so I figure it's a good time to kick off the Christmas season with a blog post. I've written quite a few Christmas related entries over the years, and posted various comics and memes. So this year, I decided to gather up all the best stuff into one post - mostly with links, but with a bit of content in this entry. I know this is recycling, but it's still good stuff, especially if you've never read it before.

 

Jolly Posts

AOPA Christmas Card A Plane Christmas Greeting
This is a poem written by my late Uncle Bud. We both shared a love of aviation. This is his version of "The Night Before Christmas" (or "A Visit from St. Nicholas" for you pedants), with an aviation twist.
  
Koch Fractal Snowflakes An Early Christmas Present - Koch Snowflake Christmas Ornament 3D Printer STL Files
This is a brand new post this year. I played around with making snowflake ornaments for my 3D printer. But since I'm a nerd, they couldn't be any old snowflakes. These are fractal snowflakes.
  
White Wine in the Sun Merry Secular Christmas 2017 - Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Society
I have a tradition of posting a video of this song every year around Christmas. This year was no exception. Go give it a listen, and donate to the National Autistic Society while you're at it.

 

Curmudgeonly Posts

Santa in the Crosshairs War on Christmas
This was my first War on Christmas post. It covers a bit of the history of Christmas in the U.S. ("a nightmarish cross between Halloween and a particularly violent, rowdy Mardi Gras"), the Pagan origins of so many modern Christmas traditions, and in general why it's silly to get upset over an imagined War on Christmas.
  
Santa is no more Yes, Virginia, There Are Liars
I've never particularly liked lying to kids about Santa Claus, nor the whole mindset around Christmas time that kids should suppress their doubts and critical thinking skills. Playing pretend with kids is one thing, but lying is something else.
  
Scrooge When Happy Holidays Isn't Good Enough
This was an incident a few years ago that still stands out in my mind - a Salvation Army worker getting physically punched for wishing somebody a 'happy holidays' instead of a 'merry Christmas'. I included a meme that shows the appropriate response to any holiday greeting.

 

Should I Donate to _____ Charity?

Since so many people start thinking about donating to charity around the holidays, here are a couple entries on charities.

Salvation Army? The Salvation Army - To Give, or Not to Give?
As much as they try to portray a completely wholesome image, the Salvation Army isn't without their controversies. I'm not actually going to advocate that you do or don't donate to them (but if you don't, please donate to somebody else), but you should at least understand some of the activities they engage in that you may not agree with.
  
Charity Debunking an E-mail on Charities
This was written in reply to one of those email forwards, decrying all the supposed waste from certain charities, and suggesting you donate your charity money to other, more worthwhile charities. Well, suffice it to say, since it was an email forward, it wasn't particularly reliable. Granted, it's been a few years since I've looked into each of these charities, but it still gives you a sense of how legitimate various charities are, and provides links to a few watchdog groups.

 

Christmas Memes & Comics

You may have to click to embiggen to read this one.
Calamities of Nature Comic on Charlie Brown Christmas
Source: Calamities of Nature (via the WayBack Machine)

 

Santa Jesus Meme
Source: Master Marf (no idea if that's the original creator)

 


Source: Meme GeneratorMeme Generator

 

Christmas Tree Image Source: Free christmas Tree Backgrounds

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

An Early Christmas Present - Koch Snowflake Christmas Ornament 3D Printer STL Files

Koch Fractal SnowflakesI've had a 3D printer for a little while, now. While I mostly experiment with printing out various concept aircraft, I figured that for Christmas, I'd print a few Christmas ornaments. But with me being the nerd I am, I couldn't just print out any old random ornament. It had to be something a bit nerdier. So, after reading a post on Scientific American Blogs, A Few of My Favorite Spaces: The Koch Snowflake - A look at the most festive fractal, I was inspired to print a few tangible interpretations of the fractal. And I've shared the STL files below, for anybody else who might want to make them.

But first, here's a really cool animated gif from that Scientific American article, originally from Wikimedia Commons, showing the development of this fractal.

Koch Snowflake Fractal
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, Credit: Ant├│nio Miguel de Campos

And here are the STL files. I've put a preview of each model. Clicking on the thumbnail will show a higher resolution image. To download the STL, use the actual download link.

Koch Snowflake 1 Preview Download Koch_Snowflake_1.STL
  
Koch Snowflake 1 Preview Download Koch_Snowflake_2.STL
  
Koch Snowflake 1 Preview Download Koch_Snowflake_3.STL

And here's a photo of the completed products.

Koch Snowflake Ornaments
Click to embiggen

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