Tempeh is better if you make it yourself

Black-bean-&-black-rice tempeh — photo by author

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian and Malaysian food made by fermenting cooked beans (traditionally, soybeans) with a fungus. During fermentation, the dense cottony mycelium of the fungus binds the beans together to form a compact cake. This page has a selection of informative articles about tempeh.

Using a fungus to make a food is not unusual. Bread and wine, for example, are made using yeast, a fungus. A fungus (Penicillium camemberti) forms the coating on Camembert and Brie, and Roquefort is made using Penicillium roqueforti. Tempeh uses the fungus Rhizopus oligosporus.

Tempeh cooks well, tastes good, and is highly nutritious…


Ask yourself at the time — or later, as you reflect on an incident or exchange

Photo by Antenna on Unsplash (modified by author)

One difficulty in learning from experience (despite its awesome power as a teacher) is that we often are so involved in the experience that we don’t step back — during the experience or, more likely, later — to ask ourselves “What does this tell me?”

I learned from a friend how useful the question can be. When I would describe some puzzling behavior I had observed in someone, she would ask, “What does that tell you?” …


Hear the dog that didn’t bark

Michelangelo said (though presumably in Italian), “It takes work to remove the traces of work.” What looks effortless, as any professional dancer will tell you, looks that way after hours of unremitting effort. Fred Astaire did not just walk on the set and do the routine impromptu. He worked for hours to make it seem effortless. All that backstage work goes unseen by the audience.

The same invisibility of effort occurs in many fields — public health, for example. …


What’s so bad about a union, from a management perspective?

Photo by Ant Rozetsky on Unsplash

What seems evident from the aggressive overreaction from Amazon management is that it truly does fear workers getting any power at all. The ideal, from a management perspective is that workers be powerless.

The reason is obvious: if workers have no power, then management can do what it wants with them. An Amazon warehouse employee spoke to a New York reporter. Just read this preface to the article (and the article itself is also worth reading):

Every shift, Darryl Richardson clocks in to the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, at 7:15 in the morning. He walks up four flights of…


Let the gods decide

Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash, modified by author

In a lecture course there’s no need to choose among the students: all students simply take notes, though from time to time one may ask a question for clarification. Some courses, however, require students to actively participate in class. Such classes use some form of the Socratic method, in which students do the talking or presentation, with the teacher acting as a coach or guide, asking occasional questions and keeping the discussion productive.

Choosing who will next participate

In discussions classes students talk more than the teacher. The teacher often calls upon students — to go to the board to demonstrate a theorem in geometry…


Withered good intentions can bloom again if you learn how to recover from failure

These crooked branches grow into an orderly top; a crooked path can still reach your goal. (photo by author)

Given that immediate and sustained success is extremely rare, we all experience multiple instances and kinds of failure. It follows that knowing how to handle failure—and, ideally, how to recover from it and set things aright — is an important skill to learn.

Some failures are easy to spot and have simple solutions — for example, a basketball player who can’t make a free throw can see the failure and remedy it through practice. Other failures are more invidious, developing gradually over time with the signs of developing failure obscured by the signal noise of daily life.

For example, anyone…


Patience is not a gift but a skill; skills require practice.

Photo by Little John on Unsplash

Patience is important, but like any skill it must be learned, so impatience is common (and can have serious consequences).

Impatience differs from impulsiveness. In impulsive behavior, the issue of patience does not arise: a person who habitually acts on impulse does so not because they are impatient but because they have poor impulse control. Controlling impulses is important, and developing that skill may require patience, but the two things — impulsiveness and impatience — are different. Impatience is a feeling (a kind of frustration), and impulsiveness is a habit of action (one worth breaking).

You can be impatient with…


The unfamiliar makes us uneasy, so some pretend it’s like previous experience.

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

I think we all like — or are at least comfortably reassured by — the familiar. In Patrick O’Brian’s (excellent) series of British naval novels in the Napoleonic era, Stephen Maturin quotes a Catalan benediction on parting: “May no new thing arise.”

New things make us uneasy because they are unfamiliar, so we don’t know what to expect nor how best to respond. I just moved into a new apartment, and I like it better as it becomes more familiar. …


Some say a disaster is looming, others believe it’s overblown — what’s your take?

FutureMe.org allows you to write an email that it will send to you at a date you specify. The World Health Organization has officially stated that we are now experiencing a pandemic of coronavirus.

Test your prognostic talent. Go to FutureMe and write yourself an email to be delivered to you on (say) 1 July 2020, setting out your expectations and predictions. For example, you may believe that it’s no big deal, just like the flu but with a lower mortality rate. …


But I finally figured out why I was repeatedly short of money

Photo by Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels

Years ago I was mystified at how consistently I ran short of money each month. I understood why someone supporting a family on a low-paying job (or two) would face financial straits. But I was earning a decent salary and living on my own — and still I came up short. That made no sense.

Implicit spending

Then I discovered what I call “implicit spending.” Some possessions must eventually be replaced. I finally realized that, as I use one of those, I am implicitly spending money. For example, take a computer I bought for $2000. Now that I own it, I thought…

Michael Ham

Wrote “Leisureguy’s Guide to Gourmet Shaving the Double-Edge Way.” Blogs at leisureguy.wordpress.com. Enjoys cooking, reading, movies, and listening to jazz.

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