Commuting and office work in the time of Covid

After nearly a year of working from home, 10 days ago I started that commute back to an office environment at the hospital. Rapid-fire emergent findings, compounded by active misinformation and sabotage by the trump administration, and now these variants(!) make it very difficult for the average office worker to make sense of how best to protect ourselves. So here I talk about what I use and what's recommended: masks (always outside the home), goggles (for public transport, grocery store runs, or other crowded spaces), fans (to maintain air flow in the office) and, if needed, a portable air cleaner with HEPA filter for the workspace. My commute is in the NYC subways where that 'rush hour' is still fairly crowded. In this age of … [Read more...]

Until Covid-19 messaging improves, who do you turn to?

It's February tomorrow - a snow day here, yey!! - and over a full year into this pandemic. It's frustrating that to manage every new situation, the general public still has to scour Twitter for a prevailing consensus. We don’t have better guidance on masks (like what type and where to get them) and managing risky situations like public transportation. I fully agree with this piece in the NYTimes: It's been ten months, and I still don't know when to replace my masks! "Quickly synthesizing emerging evidence and providing practical guidance for the public and communicating it well is what the C.D.C. should be doing, and should have been doing. The new administration seems to have hit the ground running, and I hope that this is what it will … [Read more...]

Filipino snack

It's Friday night, before Monday, 14 December when the electors submit their votes. The Supreme Court just tossed out the Texas lawsuit seeking to reverse the election outcome in four states won handily by Biden, saving the constitutional representative republic we know as the United States of America. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) was clearly trying to obtain a pardon with this pathetic stunt, yet people and the media continue to give these people credibility. I know I have another bottle of champagne somewhere around here. Hard to keep them in stock when we keep winning all the time. (Where are trump and his seditious GOP followers? 1-57? They are has-beens and losers to the core and we all need to move on.) In the … [Read more...]

Bok l’hong (a photo recipe)

Khmer spicy green papaya salad. I miss so many things from Southeast Asia, and this is one of them. In Khmer it's pronounced ɓok lhoŋ: បុកល្ហុង. You can order sôm tām, or ส้มตำ, in a Thai restaurant. In Laos it is tam maak hoong, or ຕໍາ ຫມາກ ຫຸ່ງ. And I didn't realize they also have it in Vietnam, gỏi đu đủ (pronounced guy dodo). The premise is the same but each has its own distinct flavor. Thankfully the ingredients are locally available. Here we visit a Khmer friend who just whips everything out of her pantry like it's the simplest thing, and in 5 minutes she has some on a plate for me. Besides the ingredients we used, you can add others: yardlong beans (cut in small pieces), grated carrots, crab meat, finely chopped lemongrass, … [Read more...]

Pandemic winter activities

It's the holly jolly season year 2020 and we're looking for things we can do safely, outside the house. In NYS/NYC we're thankfully not seeing the catastrophic surge that the rest of the country is now reeling from. But we're seeing spikes across indicators (indoor activities will be restricted in NYC in a few days). And the vaccine rollout seems to agitate everyone into increasingly careless behavior. It's like we're in limbo - help's on the way, but there are so many caveats and really we're still in the throes of incompetence until that stupid buffoon is dragged kicking and screaming out of the White House. With all the mediocre-white-guy stupidity within the GOP my diet has often been reduced to late night popcorn and bubbly. So … [Read more...]

Making Kombucha is surprisingly minimalist

Someone in my neighborhood posts regular SCOBY giveaways, and so one day I decided to pick one up out of curiosity. Never did this before, and I'm not even a big fan of kombucha (they give cans of them away at street festivals and events, but I don't recall being impressed). But hey, with kids there are always projects you can add to the curriculum. So the little girl and I went to pick it up and the gal handed it over in a plastic container with barely any liquid. Scoby is short for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast, by the way. It's the living home for bacteria and yeast, which turns sweet tea into tangy, fizzy kombucha. The scoby grows to cover the liquid's surface area, sealing the fermenting kombucha from the air. Kitchn.com … [Read more...]

Technology fun

I love technology, and wish I had more of it in my background. Check out how this guy makes iridescent tempered chocolates with a 3D printer, in the first tweet below. He provided all instructions free on his twitter feed. And imagine how much less painful organic chemistry is, if learned this way, second tweet below. The learning possibilities are endless for homeschooling curriculums. I’m finally getting some decent results producing 100%-edible iridescent tempered chocolate. The colors are from the chocolate (not any ingredient or coating) diffracting light after being forcefully molded onto a diffraction grating in vacuum. pic.twitter.com/6wpbsIKh5C — Samy Kamkar (@samykamkar) May 9, 2020 🔬Learn chemistry with AR!#AI … [Read more...]

Mourning in the time of Covid

The kids had a sweet Grandma. She pushed her comfort zone to hang with us - she got on that 30-hour trip to Bangkok for our first kid and tried everything (durian, street foods, even a tuk-tuk ride straight out of the movie Ong Bak!). She always had a thoughtful gesture - I'd forget my own birthday and anniversary if it weren't for her cards. And she loved our friends. She was always there. … [Read more...]