Monday, April 18, 2011


Here’s another good song title: Debauchery’s “Decadent Depravity of the Dead.” I think they’re onto something there, because that’s certainly one of my own least favorite things about the dead, their decadent depravity. (Every time that crosses my mind, I laugh.)

I got to the point again of thinking I’d return the Internet radio, which was requiring an undue amount of online research, and to confirm I’d be doing the right thing, I switched it from accessing the Internet to accessing my computer, which it has been balky about, but of course it did it perfectly, and back again. I guess it’s time to admit it: I’m in love with this thing, and I will now tell you its name. It is the Squeezebox Boom, from Logitech.

At first I had trouble finding my own childhood rock station, WRIF in Detroit, but what you have to do is visit the radio station’s website and get the URL for the live stream, which is different from the URL for the website itself.

So I’m happily listening to KQED, WRIF, my iTunes playlists, Snakenet, and downloaded episodes of On the Media, Radiolab, Fresh Air, and This American Life, all on one device. Of course, none of this is what I originally wanted the thing for, which is dharma talks, but I’m completely attached to it at this point.

Howie was away this past Tuesday evening and the affable Yvonne Ginsberg was there instead, with her small dog Leo. On Thursday, Hammett turned five, which means he’s been with me for precisely four and a half years. He celebrated by sitting on top of my turntable—what a bad little boy! Friday evening, the newly designated Chore Night, I cleaned the bathroom, which probably had last been done prior to Thanksgiving. Of 2010.

Saturday morning I went to the Zen Center and heard Christina Lehnherr’s talk, which was very helpful. She was one of the teachers for my EPP class. I stayed for the Q&A and for lunch.

Back at home, I did various chores (I guess Friday night is Big Chore Night, and Saturday afternoon is Little Chore Afternoon) and watched two movies in the evening, both of which I loved: Knight and Day, and Stone. The former is a frenzied crime caper with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. It didn’t get very good reviews, but it’s totally excellent because Tom Cruise is in it. I’m sorry, but he is completely attractive, and Cameron Diaz is fun to watch, too.

In Stone, Edward Norton plays a convict who deploys his wife, played by Milla Jovovich, to seduce his parole officer, Robert De Niro. It seems to be some sort of commentary on religion and spirituality. Norton’s performance is dazzling. Parts of it were filmed in Michigan. They may have used the prison in Jackson, MI, for the prison exteriors, and in the credits, thanks go to Washtenaw County and to the City of Ypsilanti (!).

On Sunday I went to Rainbow and then made Beluga lentils and brown rice, almond shortbread, and home fries.

I suppose you thought I forgot about this, but on the contrary. Some years after starting my test of mineral sunblocks, I’m ready to release the name of the winner.

A bit of background: A handful of years ago, I bumped into the Environmental Working Group’s database of personal care products, which offers information on ingredients and rates each item’s safety.

It’s healthiest to use a mineral sunblock, so, sifting and resifting through the EWG database, I tried several, and hated them all. They all smelled metallic, they all looked completely dreadful once applied—sticky, gunky, pink, white, masklike—and they also were impossible to get off. I gave up and went back to chemical sunscreen.

Then the chemical sunscreen I’d been using for years turned on me and added one and/or the other of the two main mineral sunscreen ingredients, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. I did a Google search for its former ingredients thinking I’d find a similar sunscreen, but instead I found such dire warnings that I discarded my remaining chemical sunscreen and went back to the drawing board.

Along the way, I’d at least learned how to get this stuff off your face. The containers often say to rinse with water. This does nothing. Soap and water more or less does the trick, but what I do is put lotion all over my face and wipe it off with cotton balls, repeat, and then rinse with water.

The runner-up: Alba Botanica’s mineral sunblock that is SPF 20; probably the SPF 30 is similar, but I tried the 20, since I always wear a hat, anyway. The EWG database says Alba Botanica might use nano-scale ingredients, but I called them, and they said they don’t.

And the winner! Vanicream Sunscreen, Sensitive Skin, SPF 30. (Not the “Sport” version, though this might meet the needs of some.) This gets a two rating on EWG’s one-to-ten scale, one being best. I don’t know how Vanicream does this, as they do not use nano-scale ingredients, but it goes on clear. It also smells like nothing when first applied, though later a faint sort of orange smell creeps in, not even really a metallic smell. It’s slightly tacky to the touch, but not thick or greasy.

There is also an SPF 60 of the same thing, which gets a three rating at EWG, has a slightly firmer feel on the face, and looks just as good as the SPF 30.
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