July 1, 2019 // Archive

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01 Jul

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Media captionTunisian poet Nidhal Gharibi took his life at the age of 32

Just before he killed himself, Nidhal Gharibi posted a message on Facebook: “It is four o’clock in the afternoon of March 27, 2018. I leave you at the age of 32 years, four months and two weeks… I love you all.”

Gharibi was a Tunisian poet. He was having trouble getting a job and had moved back in with his parents. But more than that he had lost all hope.

It’s hard to know the exact reasons why someone takes their own life. Most experts agree that there is usually more than one factor at work. Gharibi’s friends say his depression was exacerbated by the political and economic situation in Tunisia.

A BBC News Arabic survey of the Middle East and North Africa indicates that four in 10 Tunisians are depressed. Only Iraqis are more likely to report feeling depressed across the 10 countries, plus the Palestinian territories, that were surveyed.

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Getty Images

Image caption

A series of mass demonstrations in 2011 lead to the ousting of Tunisia’s long-time President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali

The survey highlights self-reported distress rather than diagnosing people as clinically depressed. But the way the question is asked indicates longstanding despair not just a fleeting sense of being down: “Life is overwhelming at times. In the past six months, how often did you feel so depressed that nothing could cheer you up?” Those answering “often” or “most of the time” were classed as depressed by the Arab Barometer, the research network that carried out the survey.

Mental wellbeing is not a subject much discussed in relation to the Arab world. The region is more commonly seen through clashing geo-political forces – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, oil, religion, terrorism and war – than the individual and how they see their place in the world.

But the personal and the political collided to kickstart the Arab Spring, which began with a suicide in Tunisia.

The Bouazizi effect

Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit seller, set himself alight with petrol after being harassed by officials and having his cart confiscated. He died in January 2011 setting off a chain of protests around Tunisia and much of the Arab world.

Since then suicides – often by setting oneself on fire – have increased in Tunisia.

“He [Bouazizi] burnt himself and after that case of suicide, many copied him,” says clinical psychologist Aymen Daboussi. “That means taking one’s own life as a form of protest became collectively integrated in people’s minds”.

Suicide deaths and attempts reached a peak of 857 in 2016, according to Najla Arfa at civil society group the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights.

“After the revolution, problems among young people increased. When it broke out we were happy, we thought the world would change,” she says.

But then the mood turned.

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Matthew Cassel

Image caption

Friends of poet Nidhal Gharibi say his ideas still live on

“Around 2013, 2014, the youth began to understand what was happening when older politicians were brought in to govern,” she says. “They don’t know where they stand in society or in the economy. They feel like they don’t belong.”

Gharibi was alarmed at what was happening to his country and tried to help young people in his hometown, according to his ex-girlfriend Olfa. His frustration was evident on Facebook. “Life is more than just surviving,” reads one post.

“He was unique, a rare person. Some would say that 32 is a very young age,” Olfa says. “But I think he came from a different time.”

Image copyright
Matthew Cassel

Image caption

Nidhal Gharibi’s ex-girlfriend Olfa says he was “great, truly great”

In his poetry there is a mix of alienation and defiance. “I’m free and alive within you and without you,” he writes. “Even if the passion of your love kills me, even in death I would still enjoy you. I’m free and alive within and without you. As long as my name flirts with the tears in your eyes.”

The stigma of mental health problems

More than 25,000 people were interviewed by research network the Arab Barometer for the BBC News Arabic survey. Overall, a third of respondents in the region said they were depressed. It sounds a lot. But is this higher than other parts of the world?

It is difficult to say for sure. World Health Organization figures indicate that the Eastern Mediterranean – close to the area covered by the BBC News Arabic survey – has the lowest rate of depression apart from Western Pacific. It also has a very low suicide rate.

But WHO’s method uses “years lost to depression”. This measures whether you have the support you need to live a normal life as much as the illness itself. And because suicide is considered a sin in Islam there are question marks over how accurate the region’s suicide figures are when comparing with the rest of the world.

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In the Netherlands about one in three people will be faced with depression or anxiety at some time during their life, according to a national study known as NESDA. In contrast, the BBC News Arabic survey is looking at people’s mental wellbeing in the past six months.

“It shows a large proportion of the population in the Middle East have very high levels of distress,” says Swaran Sing, head of mental health and wellbeing at the University of Warwick. “By and large these are higher than western averages.” Because of the stigma in reporting mental health problems the true figure could be even higher, he says.

Why war and depression are not the same

Almost half (43%) of Iraqi respondents say they are depressed compared to just 15% of Sudanese. What explains why Sudanese – at the time of the survey living under a brutal leader – report levels of depression a third less than Iraqis? And why is Yemen, at war for the past four years, less depressed than relatively stable Jordan and Tunisia?

War and economic collapse do not necessarily cause depression. So says Rasjid Skinner, a lecturer at Cambridge Muslim College who is also visiting professor to the International Islamic University of Islamabad.

Active conflict can actually reduce alienation by giving people a sense of shared purpose, he says. For instance during the Troubles in Northern Ireland suicide rates were lower than in the years following the Good Friday agreement.

“What constitutes wellbeing is knowing you belong,” he says. And Sudan is one of the most tribal societies in the Arab world making for strong social bonds, Mr Skinner says.

Image copyright
Matthew Cassel

Image caption

Nidhal Gharibi’s family photographed after his death

“What gives you a bad feeling is not being connected and the sense that there’s no way out of your difficulties. That’s when you get despair.” In Sudan there is also a tradition of studying psychology, which may have led to a more enlightened view of mental health issues, he says.

In Tunisia – birthplace of the Arab Spring – hope has faded away. And in Iraq, removing Saddam Hussein – while yielding initial euphoria – seems to have opened a Pandora’s box of instability and sectarian violence. “People can cope with things as long as there’s hope. When you can’t see hope you get despair and it’s despair that leads to suicide,” Mr Skinner says.

It has been more than a year since Gharibi took his own life. For his friends it has taken time to make sense of it. “I can’t say I accepted it but I understood,” says Olfa. “Fortunately he didn’t die like most people, he left a lot. Ideas don’t die, they’re still here. He was great, truly great.”

If you are struggling to cope, you can call Samaritans free on 116 123 (UK and Ireland) or visit the BBC Action Line website

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01 Jul

Here’s a classic, chewy Oatmeal Cookie! This was Grandma’s favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, made with oats, brown sugar, white sugar, flour, and shortening. Walnuts and raisins are optional.

Photography Credit:
Elise Bauer

I’ve been going through our family’s stash of recipes and came across my grandmother’s oatmeal cookie recipe. She passed away several years ago at age 97 (she was born in 1899).

It’s funny how just seeing my grandma’s handwriting conjures up old memories of being a little girl and making these delicious old fashioned oatmeal cookies with her.

She had a real sweet tooth and we are still amazed she lived so long given her penchant for cookies, lemon meringue pie, and jelly-filled donuts.

My grandmother taught me how to measure, how to mix, and taught me a love of cooking, all through these homemade oatmeal cookies.

Homemade oatmeal cookies in basket Homemade oatmeal cookies in basket

Homemade oatmeal cookies in basket Homemade oatmeal cookies in basket

How Grandma Made Her Cookies

She used shortening (Crisco), not butter, which makes a more tender, chewier cookie in my opinion, though I tend to bake more often with butter than shortening.

Her oatmeal cookies usually included walnuts and raisins, though you can skip either if you want.

Storing and Freezing Oatmeal Cookies

These baked oatmeal cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container on the counter. They also freeze well.

  • To freeze unbaked dough: Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Scoop out the raw cookie dough, just as if you were going to bake the cookies now, and arrange the scoops close together on the cookie sheet. Freeze until the dough balls are solid, then transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. Bake as directed from frozen, adding an extra minute or two to the cooking time.
  • To freezer baked cookies: Stack a few cookies on top of each other and then wrap tightly in foil. Repeat until all the cookies are wrapped, then transfer to a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to a month. Thaw on the counter before eating.

Love cookies? Try these!

Updated July 1, 2019 : We spiffed up this post to make it sparkle. No changes to the original recipe.


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01 Jul

Butternut is a brand from Napa- and Nashville-based BNA Wine Group, which — and I’m sure they would admit this — focuses on low-cost bulk wines packaged under a cute name. Butternut is also one of the pioneers in the burgeoning canned wine space, with four varieties available in familiar 12 oz. cans. The company also produces wines in standard bottles. Eight total wines are reviewed below — both bottles and cans — and while it’s easy to tell the difference in this roundup as all the canned versions are non-vintage, I’m specifically including bottle/can designations on each review for the purpose of clarity.

Note that with the odd exception of the Butternut rose wines, these are all California-designated wines, meaning they’re blended from sources all over the state.

And so, without further ado, let’s see how buttery these Butternut wines really are.

NV Butternut Chardonnay (can) – There’s virtually nothing in the way of oak on this pale wine, which initially sees a fresh apple and lemon-scented note that’s quite refreshing. As the wine warms up and air has its way with it, things take a turn for the worse, with an unfortunate, aggressively beefy character ultimately dominating the experience. C / $30 per four-pack

2016 Butternut Chardonnay California (bottle) – The vanilla, all but absent in the canned chardonnay, is strong with this one, drowning out what appears to be a lemon and grapefruit melange underneath. Hard to drink for more than a few sips. C- / $11 per 750ml bottle

2016 Butternut Rose Central Coast (bottle) – Rose of tempranillo. There’s actually a nice acidity on this wine, balanced by a gentle floral character reminscent of potpourri. With a solid grip on the very dry finish, there’s almost none of the extreme sweetness here that one expects from the usual budget rose. Unarguably the most capable wine in this lineup. B / $11 per 750ml bottle

NV Butternut Rose Central Coast (can) – A heavy pork sausage note makes the nose problematic here, but if you can get past that there’s a nice little strawberry and vanilla cherry note that offers some level of intrigue. As with the bottled version, the finish is on the dry side, with some spice and floral notes evident. C- / $28 per four-pack

NV Butternut Sparkling Rose Central Coast (can) – This is clearly the same wine as the above, but with a little fizz applied to it. That’s not a bad move, as it cuts some of the meatier elements of the wine, though it doesn’t add much to the experience beyond a little buzziness on the tongue. Otherwise, the same tasting notes apply. C- / $28 per four-pack

2016 Butternut Pinot Noir California (bottle) – A green rendition of pinot, with a heavy notes of black olive and hemp dominating. A menthol character emerges in time as the finish unfolds… all of which is weird and largely unsatisfying. C- / $13 per 750ml bottle

NV Butternut Pinot Noir California (can) – Quite a different wine than the bottled, vintage-dated expression. Here an aggressive (suspiciously manufactured) blueberry note kicks things off, alongside notes of licorice, barrel char, and beef jerky. Also unsatisfying, but in a different way. C- / $28 per four-pack

2016 Butternut Cabernet Sauvignon California (bottle) – Again a strong note of licorice pervades everything, with barrel char and tree bark notes heavy throughout. There’s fruit in here somewhere, but plenty of tannin (powdered, I presume) tamps it into near oblivion. More stewed meat on the finish. D / $13 per 750ml bottle

bnawinegroup.com

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NV Butternut Chardonnay (can)

$30

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01 Jul

There’s no way around it: The average American millennial is financially behind.

Faced with a high cost of living, staggering student-loan debt, and the fallout of the Great Recession, American millennials are trying to make ends meet in the midst of The Great American Affordability Crisis.

The financial crisis split the generation into two distinct groups. Older millennials, who bore the brunt of the financial crisis, dealt with a tough job market and wage stagnation, making it more difficult for them to save. Younger millennials, who experienced the recovery period, entered a better job market and became risk-averse by watching the recession unfold.

However, the generation overall is plagued by financial problems that baby boomers didn’t have to face at their age. From saving to spending and financial behaviors in between, here’s what life is like as the average American millennial.

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01 Jul

Unleashed

Tarte Unleashed Chrome Paint Shadow Pot ($22.00 for 0.11 oz.) is a light-medium purple with neutral undertones and a metallic sheen. It had rich pigmentation in a single layer, which adhered evenly and smoothly on my lid by pressing into place. The pot arrived with more of a loose pigment consistency, though there was a plastic stopper included outside of the pot, which could be used to press it into place–they used to include the stopper inside, which helped keep the actual product loosely-pressed. Nevertheless, the consistency was soft, finely-milled, and blendable. It stayed on well for eight hours on me before creasing slightly.

  • Sugarpill Strangeling (P, $13.00) is cooler (95% similar).
  • Wet ‘n’ Wild Hasta La Costa Baby #3 (LE, ) is less shimmery, darker, cooler (85% similar).
  • Viseart Violet (PiP, ) is less shimmery, darker, cooler (85% similar).
  • BH Cosmetics Club Tropicana #15 (LE, ) is less shimmery, darker, cooler (85% similar).
  • MAC Plumluxe #3 (PiP, ) is darker, more muted, cooler (85% similar).
  • Tom Ford Beauty Daydream #4 (PiP, ) is less shimmery, cooler (85% similar).
  • Anastasia Opaline (DC, $12.00) is less shimmery, darker (80% similar).
  • MAC Get Physical (LE, $18.00) is darker, cooler (80% similar).
  • Makeup Geek Hype (P, $9.99) is less shimmery, darker, cooler (80% similar).
  • NARS Jardin Perdu (Right) (DC, $25.00) is less shimmery, darker, cooler (80% similar).

Formula Overview

$22.00/0.11 oz. – $200.00 Per Ounce

The formula is supposed to have “rich, vibrant” color that comes in “loose pigment” form and will “melt instantly” and “stay put for hours” on the eyes. They feel like a heavier, creamier loosely-packed eyeshadow, which I think is illustrated well across the six shades I initially purchased (shown in the group shot): some arrived more crumbly and two arrived very smooth, densely and tightly packed. They brand recommends using these with a fingertip, but I was able to use brushes as well as fingertips to achieve very similar results.

Most of the shades were quite pigmented whether applied dry or wet, but wet application definitely intensified the vibrancy and shine of the finish. I found they applied a little better in practice (dry) than initially swatched, which might be due to applying to a smaller area and pressing/patting on without spreading across a larger area. They have a slightly thicker consistency, so I recommend using a patting/pressing motion to get them to adhere evenly and smoothly on the lid, but they did seem to “melt” (as described) as I worked with them on my skin and after a few minutes, so they had a very smooth sheen while worn.

I did get some fallout, especially with the shades that appeared more crumbly, and I had less fallout after I pressed the looser product down in the respective pot (effectively crushing everything together). They lasted between eight and nine hours on me before creasing faintly.

Browse all of our Tarte Chrome Paint Shadow Pot swatches.

Ingredients

Mica, dimethicone, octyldodecyl stearoyl stearate, alumina, synthetic fluorphlogopite, isododecane, sodium dehydroacetate, trimethylsiloxysilicate, silica, tin oxide, sorbic acid, carmine (CI 75470), titanium dioxide (CI 77891), aluminum powder (CI 77000), iron oxides (CI 77491), ferric ferrocyanide (CI 77510).

Frose

Tarte Frose Chrome Paint Shadow Pot ($22.00 for 0.11 oz.) is a medium pink with subtle, warm undertones and much warmer, golden shimmer that gave it a highly reflective, metallic finish. It had opaque pigmentation in a single layer, whether applied dry or wet–the wet application yielded a slightly deeper base color. The consistency was soft, finely-milled, and mine arrived very loose with a “stopper” that was included outside of the actual pot (rather than inside as it was sold previously, which was less messy). I applied the eyeshadow by patting and pressing into place and that was enough to prevent fallout. It wore well for eight and a half hours on me before creasing faintly.

Formula Overview

$22.00/0.11 oz. – $200.00 Per Ounce

The formula is supposed to have “rich, vibrant” color that comes in “loose pigment” form and will “melt instantly” and “stay put for hours” on the eyes. They feel like a heavier, creamier loosely-packed eyeshadow, which I think is illustrated well across the six shades I initially purchased (shown in the group shot): some arrived more crumbly and two arrived very smooth, densely and tightly packed. They brand recommends using these with a fingertip, but I was able to use brushes as well as fingertips to achieve very similar results.

Most of the shades were quite pigmented whether applied dry or wet, but wet application definitely intensified the vibrancy and shine of the finish. I found they applied a little better in practice (dry) than initially swatched, which might be due to applying to a smaller area and pressing/patting on without spreading across a larger area. They have a slightly thicker consistency, so I recommend using a patting/pressing motion to get them to adhere evenly and smoothly on the lid, but they did seem to “melt” (as described) as I worked with them on my skin and after a few minutes, so they had a very smooth sheen while worn.

I did get some fallout, especially with the shades that appeared more crumbly, and I had less fallout after I pressed the looser product down in the respective pot (effectively crushing everything together). They lasted between eight and nine hours on me before creasing faintly.

Browse all of our Tarte Chrome Paint Shadow Pot swatches.

Wild at Heart

Tarte Wild at Heart Chrome Paint Shadow Pot ($22.00 for 0.11 oz.) is a light, pinky-peach base with shimmer that shifted from pink to blue. It had opaque color coverage that applied evenly to bare skin when I pressed and patted it into place, as it was quite loose upon arrival. The texture was was soft, smooth, and almost cream-like once it was applied to my skin. It lasted nicely for eight and a half hours on me before creasing slightly.

There was a plastic stopper that was included outside of the pot, which pressed the product into place but the jar was quite filled so some product got pushed over the edge of the stopper. I would have preferred that they kept it inside like prior releases of this formula.

Formula Overview

$22.00/0.11 oz. – $200.00 Per Ounce

The formula is supposed to have “rich, vibrant” color that comes in “loose pigment” form and will “melt instantly” and “stay put for hours” on the eyes. They feel like a heavier, creamier loosely-packed eyeshadow, which I think is illustrated well across the six shades I initially purchased (shown in the group shot): some arrived more crumbly and two arrived very smooth, densely and tightly packed. They brand recommends using these with a fingertip, but I was able to use brushes as well as fingertips to achieve very similar results.

Most of the shades were quite pigmented whether applied dry or wet, but wet application definitely intensified the vibrancy and shine of the finish. I found they applied a little better in practice (dry) than initially swatched, which might be due to applying to a smaller area and pressing/patting on without spreading across a larger area. They have a slightly thicker consistency, so I recommend using a patting/pressing motion to get them to adhere evenly and smoothly on the lid, but they did seem to “melt” (as described) as I worked with them on my skin and after a few minutes, so they had a very smooth sheen while worn.

I did get some fallout, especially with the shades that appeared more crumbly, and I had less fallout after I pressed the looser product down in the respective pot (effectively crushing everything together). They lasted between eight and nine hours on me before creasing faintly.

Browse all of our Tarte Chrome Paint Shadow Pot swatches.

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01 Jul

We’ve seen it happen too many times. A person calls 911 to report a disturbance next door or out in the street. The police show up. Things go awry and the police shoot the person at the center of the disturbance — and it turns out that the person had a mental health issue.

According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a Virginia-based nonprofit working to improve access to mental health treatment, at least one in four people killed by the police in the US has a serious mental health problem. Stories of these police killings have been in the headlines over the past few months, with anguished family members decrying officers’ violence toward their loved ones.

There’s got to be a better way to handle 911 calls.

Some people say there is: Instead of sending police to deal with non-criminal emergencies, why not send mental health experts?

Oakland, California, last week became the newest city to explore this approach, which has already been tried to good effect in Oregon and, farther afield, in Sweden.

The new Oakland budget allocates $40,000 for a study on how best to implement the Oregon model there. It’ll investigate questions like: What’s the best way to complement existing mental health services without competing against them? Where in Oakland do most 911 calls related to mental illness originate? In which neighborhoods does it make most sense to concentrate a pilot program?

The goal is to launch a pilot next year, and although supporters are not yet sure what its size, duration, and cost will be, they’re hopeful it’ll make a big difference to the city’s overpoliced community of people without homes. They were among those who first called for a non-policing approach.

Other cities from Portland to New York are keeping a close eye on what happens in Oakland, because they’re also interested in potentially implementing this approach. If the model takes off nationwide, it could be an effective way to reduce needless suffering for millions of Americans who have mental illness.

The non-policing approach has been tried elsewhere — and it works

In 2015, Stockholm started test-driving an ambulance devoted entirely to mental health care. It looks like a regular ambulance on the outside, but instead of stretchers, it’s got cozy seats — perfect for a therapy session on wheels. Two mental health nurses and one paramedic travel on board. Most of the emergency cases they handle involve people at risk of suicide; sometimes, they involve people having a psychotic episode.

The idea is that making these experts available boosts the quality of care, avoids needless escalation by law enforcement, and minimizes the stigma attached to people with mental illness.

“It used to be the police who handled these kinds of calls,” Anki Björnsdotter, who works as a mental health nurse aboard the ambulance, told Vice. “But just the presence of the police can easily cause a patient to feel like they’ve done something wrong. Mental illness is nothing criminal so it doesn’t make sense to be picked up by the police.”

During its first year, the ambulance was requested 1,580 times and attended to 1,254 cases. That means the single vehicle was tasked with zipping all around Stockholm to handle 3.4 cases per day.

“It has been considered a huge success by police, nurses, healthcare officials, as well as by the patients,” said Fredrik Bengtsson, who’s in charge of mental health emergencies at Stockholm’s Sabbatsberg Hospital.

In Eugene, Oregon, the group handling such calls is called Cahoots (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Street). This nonprofit was founded by social activists way back in 1989, but it’s been garnering more attention in recent years as the police’s sometimes violent and even lethal treatment of people with mental illness has sparked a public outcry.

Cahoots handles non-criminal crises involving people who are homeless, disoriented, intoxicated, mentally ill, or enmeshed in an escalating dispute. Here’s how the Wall Street Journal explained their work:

The program in Eugene is unique because Cahoots is wired into the 911 system and responds to most calls without police. The name Cahoots was intended to be a humorous nod to the fact that they are working closely with police. Cahoots now has 39 employees and costs the city around $800,000 a year plus its vehicles, a fraction of the police department’s $58 million annual budget. They are also paid to handle calls for neighboring Springfield.

“It allows police officers to … deal with crime, but it also allows us to offer a different service that is really needed,” said Lt. Ron Tinseth of the Eugene Police Department.

In contrast to police officers who typically seek to project authority at all times, Cahoots employees dress in black sweatshirts, listen to their police radios via earbuds, and speak in calm tones with inviting body language.

In 2017, Cahoots handled 17 percent of the police calls in Eugene, according to the Journal. “When I’m talking to a more liberal group of people, I’ll make the argument it’s the compassionate thing to do, it’s the humane thing to do,” said Manning Walker, a Cahoots medic. “When I’m talking to a conservative group, I’ll make the argument that it’s the fiscally conservative thing to do because it’s cheaper for us to do this than for the police and firefighters.”

Oakland plans to launch a pilot program inspired by Cahoots. It will see a mental health counselor and an EMT respond to some 911 calls instead of police.

Anne Janks from the Coalition for Police Accountability, an organization that advocates for constitutional and transparent policing in Oakland, told me she hasn’t encountered any critics of the plan to adopt the Cahoots model. “It’s actually been heartening for those of us who’ve been doing political organizing for a while — we’ve been joking that we’ve never worked on something before where everyone’s supporting it,” she said.

“The Cahoots program has proven successful in Eugene to treat those struggling with mental health issues with dignity and respect, and to direct them to services that are more appropriate than spending time in police custody,” said Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland’s citywide council member, who secured funding for the study. “I believe this is a good model to test in Oakland, and I look forward to sharing the results.”

Already, Cahoots is working with a number of cities — Olympia, Washington; Denver, Colorado; New York; Indianapolis, Indiana; Portland and Roseburg, Oregon — to see how they might be able to implement the non-policing model. With any luck, this approach, which is both more empathetic and more cost-effective, can help to reduce suffering for millions of people.


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01 Jul




Some grapes only attain full ripeness at high alcohol levels. Grenache can reach 14.5 to 15.5 per cent in places such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape.


Bill Zacharkiw

I was working the other night in my role as sommelier when the subject of alcohol levels came up. My clients had heard that wines with lower alcohol — by which they meant under 14 per cent — are better than those with higher alcohol.

While there is a definite movement by wine lovers toward lower-alcohol wines, I don’t believe quality is the driving motivation. Maybe they want a little less of a buzz. While I agree that a 13.5 per cent cabernet sauvignon will be better in general than one at 15 per cent, there is no magic number when it comes to the alcohol level a wine should have. It depends on the grape variety and, ultimately, the balance with the other constituent parts of the wine.

More than anything, alcohol level is simply an indicator of the style of wine you might expect.

Certain grapes only attain full ripeness at high alcohol levels. One of those is grenache. In places such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Priorat, 14.5 to 15.5 per cent is generally the level of alcohol to expect. In cooler places, it can be as low as 13 per cent. 

Sangiovese, the great Tuscan grape behind such wines as Chianti and Brunello, is another variety that can reach higher alcohol levels. A few winemakers have told me that in places such as Brunello, 14.5 per cent is optimal, while in cooler Chianti, most seem to shoot for 13.5. Amarone, because it is made by drying grapes prior to fermenting, is almost always above 15 per cent.

But winemakers have less control over the situation than you might think. Remember that there are two types of ripeness that must be considered. One is called sugar/acid ripeness. This one is easy: as a grape ripens, it develops sugars and acids fall. If you have ever tried an unripe grape, it’s a pretty tough chew.

The second type is equally important. Phenolic ripeness is the ripeness level of the skins, seeds and stocks of the grapes. This is where a wine gets its colour, aromas, flavours and tannins.

In great vintages, these two types of ripeness happen at the same time. However, in years that are too hot — which occur more often than those that are too cool — sugar ripeness happens faster than phenolic ripeness. This means if the winemaker wants to keep alcohol levels down, they might have to sacrifice aromas and flavours.

If they wait for the aromas and flavours, they risk having the wine’s sugar — and thus alcohol level — shoot through the roof, and the acidity plummet. Quite often they are forced to work a compromise, which is why the vintage might not be considered a great one.

So if you find a wine whose alcohol level is maybe one per cent higher than normal, try it. It might have just the right balance. 

Related

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01 Jul

Uh-Huh Honey

Colour Pop Uh-Huh Honey 9-Pan Pressed Powder Palette ($12.00 for 0.36 oz.) is the newest addition to the brand’s monochromatic palettes, and is–you guessed it–all about yellow. The eyeshadows performed well across the board with Stinger being slightly chalky and taking more effort to work with; the rest were pigmented, long-wearing, and blendable. Palooza (Pressed Glitter) is consistent with other shades in the formula, but it wasn’t impervious to fallout.

I actually think they missed some takes on yellow, like a soft, buttery yellow; cooler, highlighter yellow; and a deeper, more olive/yellow-leaning brown (almost between mustard yellow and ochre). For me, Sweet Spot and Oh Beehave are a little too close; I get the subtle differences, but I’d rather one swapped for something more dissimilar.

Colour Pop Stinger Pressed Powder Shadow
Colour Pop Stinger Pressed Powder Shadow
Colour Pop Stinger Pressed Powder Shadow
Colour Pop Stinger Pressed Powder Shadow
Colour Pop Stinger Pressed Powder Shadow
Colour Pop Stinger Pressed Powder Shadow

Stinger

Stinger is a medium yellow with strong, warm undertones and a matte finish. It had nearly opaque pigmentation in a single layer, which was buildable over primer but not over bare skin. The texture was soft, lightly powdery, and seemed a touch chalky when I worked with it–the powder didn’t go on as evenly and as seamlessly initially. I was able to get it to sit right on my skin with enough blending. The eyeshadow wore nicely for eight hours on me before fading noticeably.

Sunburst

Sunburst is a bright, golden yellow base with blue-green sparkle over a metallic finish. The eyeshadow had rich pigmentation in a single stroke, which adhered evenly and smoothly to my skin. The consistency was soft, blendable, and creamy enough to melt on my skin but wasn’t too dense or thick. It stayed on well for eight hours on me before it creased slightly.

Sweet Spot

Sweet Spot is a medium-dark yellow with warm undertones and a matte finish. It had opaque color coverage that adhered well to bare skin with a smooth, even application of color. The consistency was soft to the touch, smooth without becoming powdery, and remained blendable on my skin. It lasted well for eight and a half hours on me before I noticed fading.

Dandy

Dandy is a bright, golden yellow with strong, warm undertones and a metallic finish. It had rich color payoff with a creamy, smooth, and blendable texture that felt like it melted against my lid–it was one of the better eyeshadows ColourPop has produced. The eyeshadow wore well for eight hours on me before creasing faintly.

Palooza

Palooza has a translucent base with an assortment of hexagon-shaped glitter particles that shifted from copper and yellow to yellow and green. I find it’s the exact same color as Puffin, which I was able to catch the shift to copper a bit better. It was loosely-pressed in the pan, and it was easy to pick up more product than desired as a result, so I’d recommend using a lighter hand. It had good adhesion on its own, and it had light fallout over eight hours but was certainly impressive for a glitter-packed product on its own. The product dispersed fairly evenly, too, without dropping fallout.

This product is not intended for use around the immediate eye area, per the brand; when I wear these types of products on my lid, they can cause irritation for me, so I wore this on my lower lash line, which helped prevent fallout into my eye. Most of the product removes with just water, but I find that, as with more glitter, flecks remain here and there even with very, very vigilant removal!

Queen B

Queen B is a rich, deeper gold with strong,w arm undertones and a metallic finish. It had an incredibly creamy, smooth consistency that was rich without being too thick on my skin. The pigmentation was opaque in a single layer, and it stayed on nicely for eight hours before creasing slightly.

Totally Buggin’

Totally Buggin’ is light, yellowed orange with warm undertones and a mostly matte finish. The color payoff was nearly opaque in one layer, while the texture was soft, lightly powdery in the pan, but blendable and not prone to sheering out or having fallout during application. It lasted well for eight hours on me before fading visibly.

Oh Beehave

Oh Beehave is a medium-dark yellow with stronger, warm undertones and a matte finish. It had nearly opaque pigmentation with a soft, blendable texture that wasn’t too powdery nor too firmly pressed in the pan. This shade lasted well for eight and a half hours on me before fading noticeably.

Buzz Kill

Buzz Kill is a deep, mustardy yellow with warm undertones and a matte finish. It had excellent pigmentation with a soft, slightly thinner consistency that wasn’t too powdery nor too firmly pressed in the pan. The eyeshadow applied well to bare skin and stayed on well for eight hours on me.

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01 Jul

 

The question will always creep up, in one form or another. Someone may ask how to include yoga into their strength training schedule. Someone else, who’s defined their fitness through bodybuilding workouts, wants to know how to get over the mental hurdle of cutting back on their gym time to start running outside.

 

Ultimate Bodyweight - Strength. Skills. Flexibility.Ultimate Bodyweight - Strength. Skills. Flexibility.

 

It’s a normal maturation to broaden your methods and means of physical health and function after some time focused on one approach. And why shouldn’t it happen? With so many opportunities and the reduction in barriers to as many different experiences as we want, why shouldn’t we try as many things as possible?

 

But sticking your toe in everything and remaining an amateur in all is different from taking steps to deepen your skill and aptitude in multiple disciplines simultaneously. So, what’s it look like to practice a group of fitness/strength/movement methods in a way that creates a state of balance and familiarity with all sides of physicality while improving?

 

First, we have to understand that simultaneously doesn’t necessarily mean equal improvement. The quickest path to mastery is to focus single-mindedly on only one practice. There’s value in that—that can be a hero’s path. But if you find yourself to be someone who needs to do many things and not only one, there’s a path for you too.

 

Choose Additional Disciplines

If you’ve dedicated yourself to one phase of fitness, you can’t add more disciplines haphazardly. You have to decide what is most important, exciting, and likely to keep you engaged and interested now, and then put in the work to figure out how to improve all of them—not just one.

 

Limit Yourself to 2-3 Disciplines

It’s a good rule to limit yourself to two-three different practices, mainly if they are competing for demands such as high-intensity conditioning and powerlifting. But who am I to put limits on you based on my experience, perceptions, personal standards, or what I’ve read in books? Maybe you’re more powerful and resourceful than I can imagine. Just understand that the more pursuits you have, the more intelligently laid out your plan to practice and improve them must be.

 

While you must train all these facets simultaneously, you need to make sure you outline which take priority throughout a year. Yes, a year. You have to accept that this is a long game, and you need to set aside your desire for short term gratification.

 

I’ll use myself as an example because I’m pretty interested in myself. This year I set an objective to compete in:

 

 

I’m pretty competitive.

 

 

The Backburner Isn’t Bad

If you want balance in all things physical, you’ll feel spontaneous pulls toward new, exciting activities and practices that you may not have planned in your well outlined year. It’s okay to start these other activities and play around whenever you want. Just concede that you will most definitely not improve past the initial beginning learning curve.

 

List them all out as they crop up in your mind and then decide what catches your attention. Then start doing it. Accept that you’re doing the new practices for the experience itself and to widen your knowledge and understanding of the learning process.

 

Also, be careful in picking things that will detract from what you are trying to improve. A one-week long yoga retreat will most likely not inhibit your weightlifting when you return, and it may even help. But training for a fifty mile run through the desert most definitely will affect your weightlifting.

 

There are sub-categories in each practice that should be labeled when you’re figuring out what you can physiologically and psychologically mesh together. I’ll run through a few to explain the idea.

 

Running

All running is not equal. The training you complete for a marathon is different than the training you would do to increase your 100-meter time. Pacing for running a marathon will be different from strictly improving your one-mile time.

 

When identifying these sub-categories, you have to list out all of the demands (both physiologically and psychologically) to see not only what you need for the training but also what you can add. Once you identify the type of training that will be necessary for a 5k, you may decide that your goal of competing in your first physique show is incompatible. So, maybe you decide on a different category or form of fitness that brings you just as much satisfaction.

 

Yoga

It’s way too naive to say that yoga, as a whole, will help improve your performance in a barbell sport, assuming you’re coming at this from the strength side first and not the other way around. But this is what you hear from every direction.

 

Yoga helps this, and yoga helps that. But the problem is that there are different approaches in yoga, and even within these approaches, it can differ from studio to studio and teacher to teacher.

Some styles are more of an athletic type of yoga for strength and balance:

 

 

While other styles of yoga are slower and more gentle with long holds and focus on positioning:

 

 

So, if you were looking at yoga as a workout, you’d want the first types, but if you’re looking at it as a restorative method, you’d be more interested in the second group.

 

It’s essential to make these distinctions instead of applying a label to yoga as a general, restorative practice when the sub-categories can have so many different influences. If your priority is rock climbing and, you are interested in adding yoga to be strictly a meditative activity to improve flexibility and body awareness and helps you recover, then the proper type needs to be chosen.

 

Combat Sports

With the growth in popularity of MMA, there’s no difficulty finding a place to practice striking or grappling arts. Martial arts have been pretty easily accessible for a long time, but the rise of general gyms that offer boxing or kickboxing classes or small clubs of Brazilian jiu-jitsu renting space out of commercial gyms is much more commonplace than it used to be.

 

If you decide you want to use your body physically in a new and challenging way that teaches you a different flow, fluidity, and control of movement like many forms of martial arts does take some care in choosing what will fit with your current practices rather than doing what jumps out at you immediately.

 

Again, that’s not to say that in a few months you can’t change up everything and focus first on that fighting style to which you’re most drawn. When you’re adding a fighting practice to other forms of physical training and not subtracting anything, you need to think about how this new demand will affect your progress in what you’ve been trying to improve.

 

If you’re a super-heavyweight competitive powerlifter, still concerned with rising in the ranks, with shoulders that have only been used to bench press for many years, Brazilian jiu-jitsu may not be for you. The flexibility in the shoulders, hips, and spine that you’d need to improve in this practice would be compromised if you kept pushing forward in powerlifting, but you’d also probably be injured.

 

If, however, you’re willing to give up some size, strength, and stiffness valuable to your powerlifting total, then it’s a different story. In that case, you could do both. But if you’re still more concerned about your powerlifting performance, you’d need to consider other options. You are maybe practicing boxing once a week would be an activity with enough novelty to keep your mind engaged and your curiosity in trying new things satisfied.

 

Brazilian jiu-jitsu could be a more natural step for an Olympic weightlifter or rock climber who has more base mobility and has practiced different whole body coordinated efforts.

Maybe you like to do triathlons and need to opt for an even gentler martial art.

 

Evaluate and Decide

It is important to remember to evaluate what you think you would like to pursue:

 

  1. Assess
  2. Categorize
  3. Choose what makes you happy and prevents undue limitation.

 

Taking the time to consider your interests, capabilities, and the different modalities that mesh with your current practices will help you select the new disciplines that will keep you engaged for the long game.

 

Part 2 will explain how to develop a flexible plan to help you integrate these new practices smoothly into your training. The time spent to create your plan will go a long way to prevent problems and injuries later in the year.

 

Jesse competes in the sport of Olympic weightlifting and he was also formerly a competitive powerlifter. He has been featured in main strength and fitness publications. You can read more from him on his website.


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