Preparing for emergencies: your plans?

It’s hard not to look at the suffering following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria plus the earthquakes in Mexico and not have deep empathy for those people suffering. (Indeed, you may be one of them.) As each disaster happened I wondered, “what would I do to prepare?” and drew on my Gulf Coast childhood memories of hurricanes and flooding. The difference is that Washington, D.C. (my home) is likely to get different disasters, and now that I am an adult need to be responsible for myself and my family, and helpful so far as I can to my neighbors. And I need to be a good world-citizen to others not near me who need immediate help.

So, what to do? I’m talking about material preparation, but also spiritual and probably political preparation, the last being what power can be harnessed to overcome political roadblocks. (We’ve seen evidence of this this week.)

I’ve been documenting some plans and identifing some resources. Until then, what are your plans (or habits) for when disasters strike? What tools do you need to prepare? What incentives or encouragments do you need to take steps now?

Feel free to comment as I work through this myself.

Ten non-resolutions for 2017

So, it’s 2017 now. I’m in that group of people who wants to make New Year’s resolutions, but doesn’t keep them well. I’ve made ill-fated resolutions about losing weight so many times that I’ve given up on them. I’ll try these ten non-resolutions instead:

  1. Try to keep my sodium intake down. That should help with my blood pressure.
  2. Find and use a tailor to make my clothing fit. Easier than trying to tailor myself.
  3. Try to walk a bit more. It’s the most exercise I get, so I might as well get more.
  4. Move my diet closer to vegan (I’m already a vegetarian) particularly by restricting egg consumption. I don’t really like them anyway, and it’s a good way to lose some more saturated fat.
  5. Work on core strength. Do those exercises I learned in physical therapy. A concrete step to overcoming back pain.
  6. Settle on a good haircut, with a reliable barber. I wasn’t going to lose skull weight anyway, so a good haircut would help my head look better. Ditto the beard.
  7. Cut back on white bread. I like it, but it sits on me like lead.
  8. Try to take outings that don’t focus on getting food or eating.
  9. Take the stairs more and see if that helps strengthen my knees, or see an orthopedist if it doesn’t.
  10. Learn to stretch my back to help relieve back pain.

So I won’t make a resolution to lose weight, but will endeavor to change those behaviors that will get me closer to having those health and appearance improvements that I attribute to weight loss. After all, it’s not the particular number of pounds that I want.

We’ll see if that works, or at least if I can keep up with it.


Tools to scrape data from a website

This is another one of those notes-to-self for later, and perhaps to inspire others to try. Putting the log back into blog. While I’d love to learn enough Python or what-have-you to scrape the data from a website, the following tools got the job done.

  • to do the heavy lifting of scraping. The best option I found in an exhaustive half hour of searching and testing.
  • Open Refine to split columns where I wanted, though that’s only a part of its power
  • Using a spreadsheet as a crowbar to make sure the data was in the right columns. Open Refine probably is the right tool, but good ol’ LibreOffice Calc got the job done.

And pen and index cards, to note what I did so before I try and scrape data from another site, I’ll do a better job.

Vegan ham #3: Lam Sheng Kee Vegetarian Ham (Bacon Flavor)

best-vegan-hamThe first two installments (1, 2) of this review series makes the third very easy — and satisfying. Until we have a chance to sample more vegan hams, Lam Sheng Kee Vegetarian Ham (Bacon Flavor) will be the one we will buy for hot and cold ham eating.

But to be clear, I mean “ham lunch meat” substitute, not country ham or honey-spiral-thingy. It’s not as sweet as the chicken flavored ham, but not as smoky as breakfast bacon either. Just think ham lunch meat. It’s chewy without being gummy, flavorful but not cloying and — in one hot preparation — made a delicious fried rice. Fine, as long as you don’t oversell it. $10 for the kilogram log.

If you find it (or the chicken flavor ham) please note it in the comments.

Please excuse the bit of plastic wrapper
Please excuse the bit of plastic wrapper.

Vegan ham #2: Lam Sheng Kee Vegetarian Ham (Chicken Flavor)

The vegetarian chicken ham Let me start by saying I really like this product. Even if it has about two too many words in its name. I think “vegetarian ham” is easier to understand than a “chicken ham.” After all, a vegetarian analog is like the meaty original, but made without animals. But is a vegetarian chicken ham a now-meat-free version of a ham, but originally made with bird flesh? Or pork, made like bird, but now made with soy?

It’s none of these, I gather. It’s light, savory, lightly spiced vegetarian product that I’d call “imitation chicken lunch meat”– which I think gets the point across, even if that might not pass regulatory muster, and again suffers for having two too many words in it. And to be clear, it’s like a processed chicken product, like the inner part of a chicken nugget, so don’t expect long fibers of imitation meat.

A confession. I don’t think I ate this one hot, but ia slice of the vegetarian chicken hamt has probably enough flavor to stand up in a soup. Indeed, next time I hope to make a pot pie with it. But it’s so delicious cold that this is how we plowed through it. Often in strips on a plate with other food, or sandwiches. I think this is the same product that my go-to Vietnamese Buddhist restaurant serves in slivers in a cold lotus root salad (Gỏi ngó sen). Both the restaurant and the supermarket where we got the Lam Sheng Kee Vegetarian Ham (Chicken Flavor) is at the Eden Center, in Falls Church, in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. It comes frozen, in a 1 kilogram log for about $10 at the Good Fortune Supermarket.

My mother used to make a perfect-to-spread “blender chicken salad” and I think this product would be ideal for it. Other ingredients to buy would be the vegan Just Mayo (at Target) and vegan Worcestershire sauce. This used to be easy to find: just get the cheapest brand. But now they all have anchovies. The same supermarket has large, cheap bottles of vegan Worcestershire sauce, from Taiwan, with the soy sauce — a bit thinner than I like, but it’s not that you use much, right?

In any case, this vegan ham is a winner, and I’ll buy it again. But what if you wanted ham ham? That’s for next time.

Vegan ham #1: Chef Bowl Frozen Soy Protein Food

vegan ham #1At the risk of dissuading all of you from trying a vegan ham, Hubby and I started on the one we had never seen before and which — to be fair — didn’t even describe itself as ham or any kind of meat.

Introducing the Chef Bowl Frz. Soy Protein Food.

It weighs 1050 grams, so slightly larger than the others to be reviewed, which are 1000 grams. All cost pennies less than $10, and we bought them at the Good Fortune Supermarket, at the Eden Center in Falls Church, Virginia. 2015-12-31 20.23.57

It’s slightly chewy, slightly spongy and eraser pink all the way through and so a better comparable might be cheap bologna (though not so fatty) than ham. Like bologna, it didn’t have much flavor and what flavor it did have wasn’t quite what you’d call ham-like. It was insipid in black-eyed peas. vegan hame #1 slice

The two things that it has going for it is that you can buy a half-sized log and that if it’s your only option it is better than nothing. I might bake it to warm through and serve it with a sweet-sour condiment like fried apples or pineapple, or cube it for fried rice. But we have better options and so I’ll buy those — and later review them — instead. It also had fewer ingredients than other vegan hams, but given its other failings, I’ll not call that a plus.

Nutritional info from My Fitness Pal