Friday, September 29, 2006

Marshmallow Imitating Metal

MIM. It's a controversial topic in the gun world; mostly because manufacturers have been replacing formerly cast or forged and machined components, with MIM parts that have been surface hardened and/or hard chromed.

If it's done right, MIM parts should last as long as any other metal bits; and be cheaper to boot. Of course if it isn't done right, you wont know until the part suddnely fails, and you get a "crunch" instead of a bang.

Another issue with MIM, is the surface hardening. It makes the parts difficult to machine; and if you have to significantly reshape the part you'll cut through the hardening, exposing the soft metal underneath. This softer metal will then wear differently than the hardened surface did, and stress risers will devlop at the interface between the hard and soft surfaces; which will induce cracking.

Overall, I simply prefer not to have MIM parts in any load or stress bearing capacity in my guns.

The first thing I did when I got my Springer, was replace all the internals with tool steel or titanium parts.

Do I expect the MIM parts to fail? No, not really, but they weren't the best quality parts to begin with, the new parts are better, and more suited to what I want; and really given the fact that this gun protects my life on a daily basis, it’s more than worth it.

I got a deal on the springer at $800, and I bought it specifically to be a custom carry gun, with Yost in mind for the internal parts, so it's not like I was suprised with a big bill for an unreliable gun. The gun operated just fine with the original parts, I just wanted better ones.

On a Springer you want to replace the following (the list on a Kimber is similar):

1. Hammer
2. Sear
3. Disconnector
4. Safety
5. Slidestop
6. Extractor
7. Firing pin (sometimes. Some Springers have titanium pins)
8. Firing pin stop
9. Magazine release

Strictly speaking replacing the trigger isn’t necessary, because the stressed and wear part of the trigger is the bow, which is cold rolled pressed sheet anyway; but I replaced my trigger with an ultra short, ultra light Ed Brown serrated trigger; just because I like an ultra short trigger.

The only MIM part I didnt replace was the beavertail; one, because it isn’t a stressed part and is incredibly unlikely to break; but also because replacing the beavertail with someone elses model may make the gun LESS reliable. Beavertails are supposed to be interchangeable, but in reality they require an awful lot of hand fitting if they are going to be close fitted and still be reliable. The factory piece is well finished, and well fitted, so I didn’t want to mess with it. I DID chamfer and smoothe the edges of the hammer cutout, and the top surface of the part though.

I replaced all the ignition components with Yost (and had him fit them. He’s only 15 minutes from my house - 'course he took three months to do it); and the hard parts with Wilson or Ed Brown machined tool steel pieces. I also replaced all the springs with Wolff; and that stupid springer ILS with a Smith and Alexander arched mainspring housing with integrated magwell (that I blended with the frame).

The entire cost to replace those parts with top quality Wilson, Baer, Brown, Yost etc… parts is about $300; but you can get good forged and machined parts for as little as $150 (without the Wolff springs or the magwell of course).

Why didn’t I replace the barrel? Up until recently (some time last year), Champion barrels were Nowlin match bull barrels without the final surface finishing. Oh, and the factory sights are Novak LowMount combat tritiums, which are already about the best.

Essentially, my Springfield Champion, is actually a Yost Custom Commander, built on a Springfield frame and slide; and it's exactly what I want from a conventional framed 1911.

Why is it...

That every time a gun rights case gets beyond the circuit; the defendant is some kind of scumbag; or the case itself is argued on peripheral elements?

Someone on the NOR brought up the Maadi-Griffin .50bmg handgun/rifle kits that Bob Stewart used to sell; before he got his corrupt, convicted felon ass hauled unjustly to prison for doing so.

He ended up getting convicted for having unlicensed machine guns, and the case was overturned on appeal; on the grounds that the commerce clause which justified the law he was "violating" in the first place, did not extend to items that had ever been in interstate commerce.

Clearly Stewart was wrongly arrested, and wrongly convicted; and even the ninth circuit (who generally hate guns, and states rights) agreed; but the supremes decided not to hear the case (they dranted cert, but sent the case back to the circuit without re-hearing); instead saying that US v. Raich was controlling and sending it back to the ninth (who have not yet reheard the case), when clearly Lopez and Morrison were the controlling decisions.

Why do I say he'’s a scumbag? Well it could be the fact that he is a white supremacist who created the Maadi-Griffin for use in the racial holy wars he believed to be coming; or it could be the fact that he tried to have a fellow inmate murder a judge who ruled against him…

What I wouldn't give for one good solid, successful, upstanding gun rights defendant, who was clearly screwed over; and who managed to take his case all the way to the supremes.

All the way back to Miller, they'’ve only heard marginal cases and scumbag defendants.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Traffic reports and Hogs

My traffic hsa been steadily but slowly dropping off the last month or two; since I've had minimal gun content, and mostly been blogging about my personal and work life.

I WAS going to write a post about how I don't much care that my traffic is going down; I write for myself and choose the topics I write about; not in an angry way or anything, just as an aside; then I read this on Steve H.s' site this morning:
"I don't have a target demographic. I don't have a sales team. I don't sit around wondering what I can do to make readers happy and attract more of them. I've unpublished thousands of entries and made the search engines quit caching my work. Is that what a person who wants traffic does?

This site is a hobby. I don't care if you read it or not. If you've enjoyed it so far, wonderful. If you don't enjoy it any more, go read someone else's site. That's what I do. I don't hang around in other people's comments, telling them what to write.

Put a piece on your own blog, telling everyone how wrong I am. That's the best solution of all."
Ummm, yea pretty much.

Oh I do care that my readers enjoy what I write and that I write well; but I dont write to get hits, I write because it's what I want (really need actually) to do.

Now, don't take that to mean I'm not going to write about guns more, because I disdain trffic or anything. I havent written much about guns in a few weeks, because I have a few 5000-10000 word monstrosities coming, that I havent had the time to finish yet.

In the mean time, my diet and excercise, my work, and my family are all on the top of the forebrain stack, so that's what I write about on a day to day basis.

Feast and Famine

So after two weeks of a 2600 calorie or so a day lifestyle change (this isn't a diet, it's a permanent lifestyle change), I lose 10lbs.

I go on a business trip and have three days of 3000 calories a day plus 500-1000 calories of excercise, and I "gain" 10lbs.

Well no not really; what happened was two fold:

1. my acid balance, and hormone balance were thrown off by the change, and by the fact that I am in a UC flareup, and as such I am retaining a lot more water. I'd guess that at least 90% of that "weight gain" is actually excess water retention. I'm feeling thirsty even after drinking 1-2 gallons of water a day, and that's really just a screwed up brain signal.

2. My body has been kicked into fat storage mode by the rapid reduction in caloric intake; and is reducing my basal burn because it believes we are approaching a famine. So its not like I'm eating extra; it's that my body has decided that it needs to burn less.

Why do I know it's not really me gaining back the weight? Because I was at 405 5 days ago, and then two days later, I "gained" 5 lbs overnight. Then a few days later I "gained" another 5lbs overnight.

That's not actually possible given the caloric intake I've had. In fact, I would have to have had zero burn in the last fix days to gain even 3.5 pounds, given what I'd eaten. I've eaten a total of about 12,500 calories in the five days since I weighed in at 405, which is 3.6 lbs of fat equivalent. In that time I've also excercised about 3300 calories worth.

So, 9,200 calories of effective consumption; or a little more than 2.6lbs; presuming I'd burned NOTHING basally, which is obviously impossible.

When the body goes into famine mode, it can cut your basal burn in HALF, (though that's a bit extreme). You'd note it with poor circulation, reduced heart and respiratory rates, joint and muscle aches, headaches, reduced energy and fatigue, excessive sleepiness, and reduced body temperature; and to some extent I have noted some these things, but I'm sure my basal rate isn't quite THAT low at the moment.

This by the way is why you never cut your caloric intake by more than half, because then your body goes into EXTREME famine mode, and it actually starts shutting things down on you; not only do you not lose weight, but you can get health problems.

So lets assume five days at HALF my basal rate, or around 2200 calories per day.

Hmm, funny, that's more than my effective calorie consumption. Even at half my basal burn rate, given my caloric intake and excercise, I should have lost 1/3rd pound.

Now, I'm willing to believe that my caloric intake and excercise calculations are off by 10%, or even 20%; so lets say that my actual caloric intake was as high as 17,500 calories. I've burned at the absolute minimum to maintain life, 11,000 calories, and let's take excercise out of the equation entirely.

That's still only two pounds of weight gain even POSSIBLE FROM THE LAWS OF PHYSICS in five days. Which of course means that, as I said, 90+% of this "gain" is excess water retention.

In a couple weeks my hormone levels will adjust, my basal burn will settle out again, my water retention will drop to normal, and I'll start losing again. This is a pretty typical cycle, though three weeks is awfully fast for it to start; it usually takes 4-6 weeks.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Another Day Another Dollar

Ahh the joys of corporate meetings. All day yesterday, followed by a bad steak at a good restaurant (and some really good bison carpaccio); and then the boys go for the party.

I stayed to the first bar; and 8 double vodkas in I went back to my hotel. My BOSS on the other hand (actually my group lead), made it out to three more bars, finally heading back at 3am.

I'm SOOOO glad I missed that.

Normal blogging will resume after my re-run through the TSA retard wringer.

Monday, September 25, 2006

In the jaws of incompetence

Miracle of miracles (given my job), I've managed to avoid the evils of the TSA for 10 months; the longest I've been able to avoid airline travel since 9/11.

No longer.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the boarding area waiting to board my flight to Minneapolis, for an offsite business meeting.

Of course I had the wonderful joy of being stuck in security for an hour, because the news announced the ban on liquids was lifted; but that doesn't take effect til tomorrow, only no-one actually paid attention to that part. The line of women clutching perfume and hair care products on thei way out of the security checkpoint...

Then, of course, I was given the full search and pat down. Me, the reddish haired, pale white guy with VISIBLE SERVICE TATOOS; yeah I'm a threat to national security.

Pray for me...

Update, 12:15am CDT: It was as pleasant a flight as is possible given a full flight, in coach, with no upgrades available and, oh yeah, the A/C on the plane was broken.

Yes folks, the AC on the plane was broken. We had vent air, but it was uncooled, on a 96 degree day, in a metal tube with 100 people in it. Joy.

So I'm in my overpriced hotel (thankfully not payed for by me), having just eaten an overprice, and not very good steak (again, thankfully not paid for by me); and jsut loving the hell out of the joys of business travel.

Now I'm in Minneapolis (actually St. Louis Park, wherever the heck that is), and it's going to be 56 degrees with thunderstorms the next two days; of meetings I don't really need to be at.

The only reason I'm going, is because it's a team thing; and because I havent actually physically MET any members of my team, including my team lead, and my boss (hell, I've never even spoken to my boss, just been CC'd on emails. Gotta love gigantic companies eh. Theres only 4 people between me and the CEO of a company with 150,000 employees; I contorl millions of dollars worth of budget ever week (almost 2 million jsut on one project alone last week), and I've never even spoken to my boss.

And to think I used to do this twice a week for a living... man either I've goten soft, or this has gotten worse than I remember it, or both.

And of course, thursday night, it's back through the hands of the retards for the trip back to PHX.

I need to just buy a damn plane and fly myself everywhere. It's a 1400 mile flight, and it took me from 1:30 pm, 'til 7:30 pm PHX time to get through security and out of the airport.

A reasonably fast piston single, or light twin would get me here not much slower overall; and at $800 for the round trip, the cost wouldn't much different. Plus, I can't tell you how naked I feel with a pistol and a pocketknife.

If I were still flying 100k+ miles a year, I wouldn't hesitate for a second.

God speed Colonel

Earlier today, John Dean "Jeff" Cooper, passed on from complications arising from an earlier stroke and heart attack.

Whatever you think of him, and there are many who hated that man, as well as many who loved him; one cannot deny his impact on the world of shooting. He, along with Jack Weaver, and diverse others created the modern sport of practical shooting, and he helped found the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC); serving as the founding chairman and first president.

Jeff also founded the American Pistol Institue, called "Gunsite" (of which I am a graduate); and through the school popularized what are now commonly known as "the four rules of firearms safety", and the "color codes" for alertness and situational response.

Jeff had 86 years on this earth; 70 someodd of them as a shooter, and 20 someodd as a Marine. You can't sum up a life like that with a few sentences, but there's one quote that I think represents him quite well. When asked if violence did not simply beget more violence, Colonel Cooper responded "It is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy"

Semper Fi Marine

Big Government "Conservatives"

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Well that sucked


Jesus H. CHrist.

Okay, that last touchdown denver put up was jsut a mistake capitalized on perfectly; but wherethe hell were the Pats all damn night?

Madden had it right in the third when he said "I hate to say it, but the Patriots are basically sleepwalking here". Finally Brady picked it up in the foruth, but it was too little too late.

In week one, I predicted a loss against Denver, but their offense has been so bad the last two weeks that I thought we'd have this game, if only by a field goal.

If the Pats had managed 4 quarters of play like the first half of the fourth quarter, this would have been a very different game; instead... well, 17-7.

Oh and let me jsut say, the officiating was horrible. There were seriously bullshit calls on both sides.

That ref is a fuckin moron

Two bullshit pass interference calls? I mena TOTAL bullshit calls. Even blind ass Madden saw it.

Broncs and Pats, here's hopin.

So, we had another ugly victory last week; to make us one of 11 undefeated teams heading into week 3.

Of course the Broncos are 1-1 coming off a 9-6 squeaker against Kansas City at home, and an embarrassing 18-10 loss at St. louis; so maybe I shouldn't be as worried as I am.

Denver has always had a problem beting the pats at home (and the reverse is true); especially whe it's chilly, and it IS a night game tonight... but the game time forecast is in the mid 60s, perfect football weather, though they are expecting 15 mph winds so that ma be a factor.

On the injury front, New England is hurting a lot worse than Denver, including key player Tom Brady, who WILL play, but who has a sore shoulder; and with both starting tackles hurt (Matt Light has a strained knee and Nick Kaczur separated his shoulder) the line is going to be weaker than it needs to be against a team like Denver, plus we've got two wide recievers out or hurt.

Of course the Broncs may be looking a little softer on D than might be expected, with some injuries there including D-End Courtney Brown; but I wouldnt count on it.

The good news is, the Pats defense is doing well with the new 4-3 configuration (with some glaring exceptions of broken coverage against the jets); and Denvers offense is struggling, with jsut 1 toudchdown, and 19 points in two games. Plummer is jsut not cutting it here; and in fact has been a disappointment in the NFL in general after a spectacualr ASU career. Add in Cedric Cobbs, Mike Bell, and Rod Smith to that injured list, and we're going to see Denver trying hard to get that ball up the field against a solid defense.

I'm thinking a low scoring game here folks; and a lot of turnovers. Both QBs are just above the 50% completion mark at the moment, and both seem to have turnoveritis, with Brady at 2 interceptions for three touchdowns, and 7 sacks; and Plummer currently rated third from the bottom, with only Kerry Collins and Andrew Walter trailing (who the hell is Andrew Walter?).

I'm expecting to see a lot of attempts on the groud, shut down well on both sides. What I'm HOPING for, is that the pats can finally get some air going against Denvers only average pass rush; but with the line weakened and Bradys shoulder hurt I'm not confident.

My call? Denver gets shut down on touchdowns again, MAYBE pulling one, and two field goals. Pats pull two TD's and a field goal, maybe two; or worst case a TD and three field goals.

The vegas line is at New England for six and a half, with an o/u of 38.5. I think it'd be a miracle if they hit the over; but the 6.5 is reasonable. I think we're gonna take the game; but not beat the spread.

The Joys of Excercise

So, Mel and I went out yesterday morning, and took the dog for a brisk 45 minute walk.

We were feeling good when we got back, and we needed some cooldown stretching anyway, so we did some stretching and light calisthenics; which got our blood moving to the point where we decided to do some heavy calisthenics (pushups, crunches, sidestraddles etc...).

All in all we excercised for about 90 minutes yesterday; but all but 15 minutes of that was moderate effort, low impact.

I felt great all day, until last night when my joints started to stiffen up.

When I woke up this morning, I pretty much couldn't move.

Ahhh, the joys of excercise.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

a little advice

How to encourage your wife to join you in a weight loss program:

"Well honey I would like to have sex with you more, longer, and better, and that would be easier if we lost weight together."

Works every time...


Friday, September 22, 2006

Naked and Starving

So, yesterday in "Scalar", I wrote the following:

Well, I jsut bought a gee-whiz-bang full body monitor type scale, rated up to 440lbs; and guess what?

I recalibrated the old scale based on the new one, and man was I shocked. It turns out, checking the differences between the two, that I started off this whole thing 25 or so pounds lighter than I thought.

Yup, I was 415, not 440; and as of just after lunch (which weighed in at 20oz itself, plus a 32 oz coffee), I weigh 410.2lbs, or probably 406.8, naked and on an empty stomach.

So I've dropped about 8 lbs in the last 10 days; and if you look at my revised calorie burn numbers; based on what I've been eating, and my newly figured starting weight of 415; they come out to within a pound of what I expected.

It's good to know the math is working out huh.

And this morning, further proving the math is working out, my weight is...

Wait for it...


So, as I wrote yesterday, I've lost somewhere between 8 and 9 pounds in 11 days.

And for those of you who doubt the power of thermodynamics, I point you once again to the math. Read the spreadsheet, and look at the results.

Oh, and for those of you who doubt my claims as to muscle mass or bodyfat, I'mna point you to a measurement on that spreadsheet under the "weights and measures" sheet.

The last time I worked out in any serious was was in the spring and summer of 2003; when I managed to get down from 345 to 295 in two months, and from a 46" to a 38" waist; by restricting myself to a 2000 calorie diet, circuit training twice a day for 45 minutes, and riding the recumbent lifecycle twice a day for an hour.

That was when I was last recalled to active duty; but I was way overweight. They were making me retest on bodyfat every six weeks (they REALLY wanted my fat ass back in blue). I made the pushups, and the situps, but not the pullups, the running, or the tape; and they were determined to make me get it. Of course even if I made the tape my knees wouldn't hold up, but hey, their numbers would be good right.

Anyway, that wasn't training for strength or size. The last time I did ANY powerlifting or heavy weight training, was in about 1997-1998 or so, soon after my first serious knee injuries.

So let's call it 8 years.

At my peak, training for strength not size or shape, I had 24" arms; at around 12% bodyfat.

Right now, 8 years since any serious training, and 3 years since any training at all, I have 21" upper arms, and 16" forearms, with less than 1" fat pinch. My calves are 22" with absolutely 0 pinch.

Almost all my bodyfat is around my middle, my bitch tits (I'm gynocomastic, and always have been, ever since puberty, even at 7-12% bodyfat), and on my upper thighs.

In the "biggest" condition of my life, at around 12% bodyfat (which to a bodybuilder is obscenely high, but for a powerlifter is quite low) I weighed 285 lbs, had a 38" waist, 54" chest, 32" thighs, 26" calves, 24" biceps, 18" forearms, and a 21" neck; all with less than 1/2" pinch, mostly 0" pinch. I used to split the thigh seams of pants, and rip the shoulder seams on shirts.

It's genetics. There's no other explanation. I've had bodybuilders tell me that it took them 10 years to get up to the size I am naturally. Now of course they had far more definition and symetry; but in most gyms, size is king.

At one point, I was so massy, I had my basal burn rate up to around 14-16 calories per pound per day; even on a non-workout day. That's 4000+ calories just on a maintenance diet, at 285lbs. Workout days, I had to eat as much as 6500 calories to keep up (I knew guys who were even bigger than me, who would train 5000 calories a day, and eat nearly 10,000).

When I was 17 years old, I was nearly as big as I listed above; and one gym session I managed to incline leg press (80% range of motion - the strength press) 22 plates on a 50 kilo sled (1040 kilos); which was every single plate we could fit on the thing in every position (it was only designed for 20 plates total, the last two were not very stable); and it broke the sled. It actually split the bushings the sled rode it's rails on. In that same time period I was able to do a 12 plate full range of motion press (590kilos); which is only about 75 kilos short of the unofficial world record. When I did, I popped some capilaries in my eyes; and I wasn't able to walk properly for several days afterwards

When I was in high school, I used to bet guys that I could leg press the back end of their pickup trucks off of jackstands . It's actually easier than it looks (though just as stupid and dangerous). I made as much as $100 bucks on a single bet, until people wised up.

As recently as 2003, I was able to do a 16 plate (770kg) strength press, and a 10 (500kg) plate full range of motion press once; but subsequently I was only able to manage 8; and I couldnt walk properly for two days afterwards.

So that's what I'm working with; and also that's what I'm comparing myself to. I don't know if you understand how frustrating it is to have been so big, strong, and fit; and now to be a weakass fatbody in comparison (though I'm still a hell of a lot stronger than the "average" guy).

Actually, it's not even strength. It's a matter of once being a top achiever in ANYTHING, and then in a matter of a few years, not even being on the board.

This has happened in several areas of my life now; and while I won't ever be able to get all of them back; I can get this particular one back, at least most of the way.

I may never do 90% of the things I've done when I was in my teens and early 20s; but I'm damn sure going to get myself back to the standard of strength and fitness that I want to be at (even if it isn't even close to what I was like before).

Shut up and read. Now.

Y'all may have notice I'm not much of a linker. I figure if someone is reading me, they probably already saw the stuff I'd be linking to most times at someone elses blog (note to other bloggers, I'm not ignoring you, I jsut get tired of seeing the same link on 10 peoples sites, so I choose not to be one of those 10 people).

So anyway, I don't link much to other bloggers posts; even some really GREAT posts from bloggers I like, and am friends with.

This one is different. Go, read it, now: Memorials and Missed Chances

Can I get a ooh rah for the good Dr. please! Good writing Marine.


Go tell the spartans, passers by,
that here obedient to their laws we lie

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I just wanted to make it clear...

James Woods kicks ass beyond all reason.


Interesting news. Good, but in a way irritating.

So I was tired of having a crappy scale that wasn't accurate over 400lbs; considering, I'm over 400lbs. I didn't realize just HOW inaccurate my previous scale WAS however; and my initial estimate, based on the wildly inaccurate scale I HAD was 440lbs.

Well, I jsut bought a gee-whiz-bang full body monitor type scale, rated up to 440lbs; and guess what?

I recalibrated the old scale based on the new one, and man was I shocked. It turns out, checking the differences between the two, that I started off this whole thing 25 or so pounds lighter than I thought.

Yup, I was 415, not 440; and as of just after lunch (which weighed in at 20oz itself, plus a 32 oz coffee), I weigh 410.2lbs, or probably 406.8, naked and on an empty stomach.

So I've dropped about 8 lbs in the last 10 days; and if you look at my revised calorie burn numbers; based on what I've been eating, and my newly figured starting weight of 415; they come out to within a pound of what I expected.

It's good to know the math is working out huh.

Mel has managed 4lbs in the same time, and her numbers look to be working as well.

The only problem I have, is that I still can't get an accurate bodyfat measurement. The BIA system works fine if you are either all skin, or all fat; but for a former athlete who's gone fat but still has plenty of muscle mass like myself... Yeah no.

My tape measurements show me at 39% bodyfat, but this body comp monitor (which takes water % into account supposedly), shows me at 52% fat. That's pretty much impossible, because if I were 52% bodyfat, my waist would be 6" bigger than it is.

The doctors say that even under the best circumstances the things have a 3-6% margin of error (the manufacturer claims less than 1% which is bullshit. Immersion tanks even have a 2-3% margin of error), and for people with high bone density and muscle mass, can have a 6-12% margin of error. I can believe I'm at 40% bodyfat, but no way 52%.

So I guess for now I'll have to have bad measurements. I don't feel like spending $60 on an immersion tank, or $200 on an X-Ray body comp analysis.

I'll tape myself again on sunday, then run the bodyfat off the bodycomp montor, and see what the difference is, to see if it stays consistent.

Remember, my goal here is to get down to 285lbs; with a 42" waist, a 52" chest, and a 20-21" neck (I'm at 21 now). By the tape standard, that would have me right around 20% bodyfat.

Thats 120 or so lbs (call it 120 from the end of this week), in 19 months (til my birthday after next). Hell, if I could keep losing this fast I'd make it by my NEXT birthday, but that aint gonna happen.

Once I get down to about 385 though (hopefully another month or six weeks), the excercise is getting ramped up. You're going to see my burn rates go through the roof, so I'll hopefully be maintaing loss rates, AND increasing muscle conversion (which should increase my burn rate per pound as well; though not too much).

I figure I can maintain 2-3lbs average weight loss per week over the course of a year though; given the fact that I'm starting high, and ramping up my excercise. I'm confident I can make my goal weight in 19 months.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Recipes for REAL men, Volume 17 - REAL Coffee

Ahhh coffee, one of the last legal addictions. I fully and freely admit I am a coffee junky. Oh I've gone for months at a time without (or without any other source of concentrated caffeine), but Why would you if you didn't have to?

I TRULY love my coffee. I drink at least a pint a day, and on a heavy day I'll down two full pots, or about 1 gallon.

Of course that's a lot "better" than I used to be. From the time I started drinking coffee regularly, at about 13 (I got my own Gevalia subscription that year), til I was about 21 or so, I would have as much as 1 pot of coffee per hour when I was awake. Considering I would sometimes stay awake for three days at a time... well that's some serious coffee consumption.

Oh and no, it wasn't the coffee keeping me up. I've had chronic insomnia since I was five, with or without caffeine, so why not be more alert and enjoy it eh? In fact, the caffeine actually HELPED me sleep; because when I came down, it was easier for me to sleep than if I'd just sat there without any coffee at all.



For each mug (8oz) of coffee you need
9 ounces of filtered, but not distilled water (distilled water tastes odd, because of lack of minerals)
3 tablespoons of fresh, medium to medium fine ground, medium roast, arabica coffee (whatever your preferred blend).
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (the real thing, not cashia, if you have it - optional)
1 Tablespoon heavy cream (optional)
1 Tablespoon raw sugar (optional)


This is the really important part. No matter how good your coffee beans are, no mater how precise your proportions are, it's the grinding and brewing that makes the difference.

First step, pick out a good grinder. Your choice of grinder is really dependent on what type of coffee you want to make, and how you want to make it. Espresso and auto drip machines respond best to burr grinders; which also heat up the coffee less in the grinding process. The blade style grinder produces unsatisfactory results for everything but the absolute coarsest grinds (cowboy grind), and the absolute finest grinds (Turkish); and should only be used with vacuum pots, the heaviest paper filters used for gravity pots and the like; or if you intend to leave the grounds in the coffee you are drinking (as in Turkish and Cuban).

Now, how much to grind? Well what I recommend is about 3 tablespoons of grounds per 8 oz mug (I usually drink mine in 16 oz or 24 oz mugs actually). Depending on what grind you use, this usually works out to about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of beans per tablespoon of grounds, with some leftovers.

I have a very automatic nice burr grinder. You set the number of cups you want, and set the grind; and it automatically grinds what it thinks is the right amount of coffee for that setting. It's calibrated for right around 2 tblsp per "cup"; and I find if set it to grind to 12 cups, medium fine; I have exactly the right amount of grounds for 8 mugs (or rather for 4 of my mugs).

Oh, and completely ignore the markings on your coffee pot (or the side of the machine), if it's an American home machine. Most American coffee machines are calibrated for six ounce "cups", which is ridiculous. The only people who drink their coffee six ounces at a time are little old ladies, refugees at red cross aid stations, and people with names like Hercule, and Antonio.

You want to add about 8.5 to 9oz of water for every 8oz mug of black coffee you plan on serving; because the grounds will retain some water, and some water will evaporate as steam. Basically, for my 12 "cup" pot, if I fill it to the maximum capacity, I get 4 of my 16oz mugs worth (with cream and sugar), plus a little left over as the dregs; and that's pretty much ideal.

Speaking of coffee machine silliness, when brewing coffee, you want to heat your water above 195, but not above 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Water at the boiling point turns coffee unpleasantly bitter and burned tasting.

In the ideal world, brewing will take 4 minutes at 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

What does that have to do with machines?

Well, some good quality machines will brew at the right temperature, and take the right amount of time, but most don't. If a coffee machine has a single heating coil for the warming plate, and the siphon; you can almost guarantee that it will either burn your coffee in the brew, burn it on the warming plate, or send it on a temperature rollercoaster ride.

The $30 and under machines tend to overheat everything, flashing the water to steam with a single overheated element, which could damn near boil the pot on the warming plate. The over $30 but under $150 consumer machines don't get the water hot enough, and cycle the temperature on and off a lot, which is almost as bad.

If you want good coffee from an electric machine , spend the $200 and get a good quality machine (most often from a specialty company like Sweet Marias), like a Technivorm, or a commercial Bunn (which make great coffee if you shut the warming plate off entirely and just brew with the water heater - but you have to get the commercial machines with the 1000+ watt heater. The high end home machines only have an 800 watt heater, and don't get hot enough).

For a cheaper, better alternative to a low cost drip machine, get a gravity pot (like a Chemex), a gravity filter cone and carafe, or a vacuum pot. French presses also work, but I don't like the results unless you pour the coffee into a carafe immediately after the steeping time is done (I love French press coffee if you brew it absolutely perfectly). Most French press users leave the coffee in the press too long, and that makes for bitter, burned tasting coffee, as the water extracts the roasting artifacts after its been in the grounds for more than about 5 minutes.

Load the filter loosely. I prefer Swiss gold foil filters, but good paper works fine too. If you have a large basket style filter, instead of a thick cone filter, use two filters.

Oh, I should note here, if you are using a machine, or a gravity filter, don't make less than two mugs at a time; or the water won't stay in the grounds long enough. On the other side, don't make more than 8 mugs at a time, or the water will stay in it too long.

If you must make 1 cup at a time, don't get one of those silly single cup "brew pod" machines; they're horrible. The coffee is undrinkable. The best solution is either a single cup gravity filter cone (they cost about $5 and take normal sized disposable paper filters); or something called the "aeropress", which actually presses out 1 single cup of coffee at relatively high (but not espresso high) pressure. It makes a damn good cup of coffee, and I've found it to be the best solution while traveling or camping.

Back to the brew...

Once loaded, sprinkle the salt and cinnamon evenly over the top of the grounds, then brew.

Why Salt and Cinnamon? Well, I just like cinnamon, but there is a good reason for using it; it restores some of the flavor balance to filtered water, and it ups the aroma factor of the coffee. Remember, you aren't trying to flavor the coffee with cinnamon here, just add a little extra accent. The same could also be done with nutmeg, allspice, or ground hazelnut.

But Salt?

Yes, salt. The salt changes the mineral and acid balance of the water, allows it to extract more flavor out of the coffee, sharpens your tastebuds, and helps keep the bitter oils in emulsion with the water.

Trust me, a little salt in your grounds can make most any coffee better. You want it to look like a light snow over dark ground. Too much salt, and you'll.. you know puke and stuff; its just a couple pinches for a whole pot.

Finally, we brew. For best results, on a "stop and pour" type machine, start the brewing process with no pot under the brew basket. Let the basket fill with hot water, for about a minute or so to let the grounds saturate evenly; THEN add the pot under the basket and let the brew finish. Most gravity pots and filters are calibrated so that if you fill the filter completely with water, and then stir stir a bit, they will brew for the proper amount of time.

If you do have a "stop and pour" machine, DO NOT STOP THE BREWING PROCESS TO POUR A CUP. You have to wait until ALL the water has brewed through, then stir the pot up a bit; or the flavors will be unbalanced from cup to cup. You can wait a grand total of 3 minutes.

For best results pour immediately into a vacuum carafe or air pot; to prevent scalding, loss of flavor, and to prevent oily resins from forming on the top of the coffee. Absolutely, leave the coffee on the heat no longer than 15 minutes; or it WILL noticeably oxidize and taste stale or burned.

Now, how to serve.

Personally, I think the only proper vessel for coffee, unless you need to keep it warm a long time, is a large, heavy, china mug; and I prefer loop handled. I personally like the 8 and 16oz sizes for a regular mug, because by the time I finish anything larger, the coffee has cooled too much to properly enjoy it. Conversely, if I DO need to keep my coffee warm longer, I prefer a 24oz thermal mug; because the extra thermal mass helps keep the coffee warmer longer.

Sometimes (if I can get the best quality beans, and brew them in a good machine or filter) I take it black, but most often I take 1 tblsp of cream, and 1 of sugar, per 8 oz (as I said, I tend to drink 16 or 24oz at a time). Any more than that, and you aren't drinking coffee, you're having a coffee flavored dessert.

As to flavorings and the like... well, coffee purists will tell you hell no; but I don't see anything wrong with having a flavored coffe if you feel like it. I rather enjoy hazlenut, mocha, vanilla, and carmel flavors with my coffee from time to time.

One thing to absolutely avoid though, are artificial creamers and sweetners. Coffee is just plain nasty with saccharine of aspartame; and the only time I use coffeemate or other "creamer" is when the coffee is horrible, but I need the caffeine. You are drinking corn starch and soy filler, and you can definitely taste it.

If you absolutely can't have sugar, but want your coffee sweet; I recommend Splenda (sucralose). It's an inverted sugar; which means it is actually made from sugar (sucrose specifically), and tastes sweet, but your body can't convert it into calories (though there are some calories in some preparations of the stuff from fillers and bulkers). If you are one of those nutjobs that thinks artificial sweeteners are evil plots by corporations to control our minds or give us all cancer so they can sell us drugs that don't work... well first of all what the hell are you doing reading my site... but anyway use Xylitol instead. It actually has calories, but not many.

Other than for drinking, coffee made this way makes for great infusions and reductions; say in a coffee cake, or a barbeque sauce for example.

And be sure to check out:

Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 17 - REAL Coffee
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 15 - DTG (Damn That's Good) dip
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 15 - More Chocolate Than Cookie
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 14 - Millions of Peaches
Recipes for REAL Women, Volume 13 - Mels 10,000 Calorie Butter Cookies
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 12 - Lard Ass Wings
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 11 - Bacon Double Macaroni and Cheese
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 10 - It's the meat stupid
Recipes for REAL Men, Volume 9 - Labor Day Potatos
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 8 - It's a pork fat thing
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 7 - It may not be Kosher...
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 6 - Andouille Guiness Chili
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 5 - Eazza the Ultimate Pizza
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 4 - Two Pound Meat Sauce
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 3 - Highbrow Hash
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 2 - MuscleCarbonara
Recipes for REAL men, Volume 1 - More Beef than Stew

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Hearth, Home, and Happiness

So there's this thread on TOS at the moment concerning a brave career woman in Germany who resigned from her very prominent job; because she was crucified following her comments urging more women to stay home and raise their kids.

I am one of those women who has forsaken "professional" paid work for a far more misunderstood occupation: homemaking.

I hate that label. "Homemaking" sounds like all I do is take care of the house. The label I prefer and use is "professional wife and mother", which is more fitting. I am responsible for the health and welfare of my family; that involves much more than keeping house. In short, I manage all of the variable, inconsistent parts of of family life so Chris can concentrate on his 9-5. I make it possible for him to devote all of his workday energies to making money, while I handle variables like doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, and life's minor emergencies. This makes him more productive, therefore increasing his worth as a professional and enabling him to make more money.

Could I do that while working? Yes and no. A two-income family has more worries, not less: transportation difficulties, deciding who stays home with the sick kid, deciding which stressed out parent makes dinner at night. We could work that out between us, but the bottom line is that with only one income to worry about we can devote more time and energy to the health and welfare of the family.

But what about the lost income? Isn't that necessary? No, not really. Back in December we calculated how much my working cost us, and between childcare, taxes, and other considerations I would have to make $48K a year just to come out even, and it's just not worth it.

But thanks to Feminists and the breakdown of the nuclear family, lots of people have misconceptions about one-income families. It is a common belief that women who stay at home are barefoot, pregnant, uneducated, and downtrodden. They are, according to myth, forced into servitude by a patriarchal society like those poor women in Colorado City.

I am not barefoot, pregnant (though that will change), uneducated, or downtrodden. I am also not a servant. I am actually HAPPIER and HEALTHIER being a professional wife and mother than I was working. My occupation is rewarding and worth far more to me than more money could ever be.

But enough about my happiness.

What many people don't understand are the logistics of such an arrangement. Far too many people equate worth with money and assume that if one parent is making all the money the other parent is subservient. That's just not true.

Chris and I are equals. We both work hard towards the same goal, the health and welfare of the entire family. We each have responsibilities, some of which are separate and some of which are shared. We have equal access to his income and equal say in major decisions. In fact, the responsibilties are distributed like this:

  • Most childcare and supervision
  • Medical responsibilities (appointments, records)
  • Laundry
  • Breakfast, lunch, and baking
  • Grocery and household shopping
  • General transportation
  • Forms and recordkeeping
  • Most school related things
  • Dog care
  • Cleaning and general housekeeping
  • Taking care of Chris (a BIG, but not all that hard job, believe me)
  • Earning money
  • First aid
  • Emergency management
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Dinner, and dessert other than baking
  • Technical crap (theres a lot of it)
  • Home repair and improvement (theres a lot of it)
  • Building and repairing things (from toys to furniture)
  • Paying bills
  • School conferences, meetings, etc.
  • Protection and security
  • Legal and administrative stuff
  • Most of the financial work
  • Taking care of Mel
  • Taking care of the kids
  • Decisions concerning the kids
  • Major spending decisions
  • Planning for the future
  • Financial records / account upkeep
  • Budgeting
  • Religious education
  • Child discipline
  • Educational decisions
  • Everything else
You'll notice that all major and financial decisions are shared between us, and are discussed. We have equal say in all these things and compromise often.

Can this work for everyone? Well, no. A husband who can't even handle a screwdriver can't fix things; a wife who can't cook to save her life shouldn't. But far beyond that, not everyone is capable of this kind of set up. There is a massive amount of trust involved: trust that neither parent is going to leave the other in the lurch, trust that nothing is being hidden, trust that both retirements are planned for. Not everyone trusts their partner that much, and many really shouldn't.

And I think that is part of why many people distrust the power sharing in these kinds of relationships: they are not capable of that level of trust, and envy people who are.

But for those who can handle it, forsaking a second income is more than worth the "loss" of money. Ours is only one example of how that can work, though we know of many others. Am I subservient and downtrodden? Hell no. Am I happier, is Chris happier, and are the kids happier this way? Without a doubt. And that is what really matters.


Just call me Mel, everyone else does.

Aaaaargh Matey

That is all

X-Boxes and Emails

So the nutritionists tell us that kids are lazy, they don't play anymore, they have too many distractions from television, computers, the internet, etc...

In fact, they tell us that it's so bad, that Obesity is an EPIDEMIC, especially among children, and that SOMETHING MUST BE DONE NOW...

All of which requires the employment of more nutritionists, more lawmakers and more administrators for programs; with more money to be spent on them, and more largess and patronage to be distributed and.. ok I'll stop now before I get too angry.

So, the result of this, is the schools are trying to take over from the parents in controlling kids activities; because of course the government knows how to take care of your children better than you do. After all, they're smarter than you are; especially in middle america. In fact you probably actually go to church and voted for Bush, you poor misguided ignorant yokels; of COURSE you can't be trusted to take care of your kids.

Oh and don't even get me started on how these people measure "Obesity". The body mass index? Please.

When I was 13, I was 6'2" tall, and weighed 265lbs, with a 36-38" waist, a 20" neck, and a 52" chest. I had 10-12% bodyfat, and as low as 7% when I started heavily working out for football and wrestling, at 14. I was a very big, very strong kid.

Do you know what my BMI was then? 34. Anything over 29 is considered obese, over 25 is "overwight, and 18-25 is considered "normal. I had 7% BODYFAT for gods sake. In order to have been at the HIGHEST edge of "normal", I would have had to have been 195lbs, which would have been basically impossible for my bone and muscle structure; but if I did, I would have had a 28-30" waist; putting me below 4% bodyfat, which can actually KILL YOU if you arent under a doctors care.

According to nutritionists, 145 lbs is considered the bottom edge of normal for a 6'2" tall man. Let me ask you something, if a man was 6'2" tall, wouldnt he be VERY SKINNY, at 165, or even 185? At 145, wouldn't you think he had an eating disorder, or maybe cancer or even AIDS?

In order to be 6'2" and 145 lbs, you would have to have a 28" waist, and a 14-16" neck, again putting you below the 4% bodyfat range.

For women they consider 145 lbs overweight if you're 5'4", but 108lbs is considered "normal; and 165lbs is overweight if you're 5'9", but 125lbs is considered normal; which to me indicates they've never actually SEEN a female over the age of puberty except on television and in magazines. A 5'9" woman, of normal skeletal and muscle build would have to have a 24" waist, 32" hips, and basically no chest, to weigh 125lbs; and that would put her under 7% bodyfat (a very lightly built woman would be different of course).

Under about 14% bodyfat and women stop having their periods (it's called Amenorrhea).

Sure, 6'2" and 145lbs is healthy... in Somalia; and this is the standard they've used to declare an "Obesity Epidemic" in America.

Oh, I won't deny that we are becoming more sedentary, eating more junk than ever before, and we're getting fatter because of it; theres no question about that; but when someone says that 60% of the country is "obese", and 30% are "morbidly obese" (meaning their weight is threatening to kill them), you have to wonder what their motives are. What exactly are they selling?

What it comes down to, is it's all about money and control. They want money from the government, and the authority to control your lives, and the lives of your children.

At my childrens private, catholic school; the state has forced a "child wellness" program on them, dictating not only what the SCHOOL can serve the children for lunch, but what the PARENTS can give their own children to take in to school to eat.

So they are putting our kids on low fat, low sugar, low sodium, low everything diets from the age of 3 on up. Then they are forcing excrcise on them in such a perfunctory and stupid way that it puts the kids off of excercise forever.

Have you ever tried to keep up with a 4 year old, or even an 8 year old, running around throughout their day? Did you know that nutritionists (yes I know, I just trashed them above. Those are what I call the "nutritional politicians" rather than the real doctors and scientists) consider playing with children strenuous excercise? Keping up with kids just running around playing can burn 400 calories an hour for a 170lb man.

What bugs me (other than the states intrustion into parental perogative), is that kids NEED a higher fat, and higher protein diet than adults do, in order to mature properly.

"But kids don't excercise like we did when we were kids"...

Bull, and I'll tell you why.

The problem with "obese" kids, is that we aren't letting kids be kids. If my family restricted and overprotected me the way kids are these days, I'd have been a fat little kid too, instead of just a big little kid.

The fact that I walked more than 5 (sometimes more than 10) miles a day, or biked well over 10 miles a day, and basically ran around constantly is what helped me grow up healthy and strong. Was I excercising? Hell no, I was playing with my friends, and walking to their houses, and walking to the park, and walking to the store.

"But kids are lazy these days" ...

Bull again. Kids havent really changed today, it's the parents who've changed, teaching their kids that playing the way we did isn't safe (More Bull. Your town is almost certainly no more dangerous than it was 20 years ago; in fact it's almost certainly LESS dangerous; you're just more afraid of the danger that's there). Scheduling our childrens every waking second with "enriching" activits they don't want to do. Restricting them from doing the normal things that every kid all throughout time has done.

MOST kids don't really get fat; they burn off enough jsut growing and playing that it's damn near impossible for them to eat more than they need; unless they can't be kids any more. We're making our kids into little adults; with schedules, and "play dates" and all the garbage of adult life; and they're stressed out. It's no wonder they don't want to just play any more, they're trying to relax and deal with stress just like you are.

X Boxes and email aren't making our kids fat; WE ARE.

Monday, September 18, 2006

obesity, parental responsibility, and stupid state laws

I truly wish it was that easy.

Our 4 year old has been attending Pre-K at a private Catholic school for over a month now and likes school. She asks every day if she's going to preschool; she loves the school, her class, and her teachers.

I love her teachers too, especially the 50-something year old head teacher who has been teaching for forever. She is a lifer in the true sense of the word and has all the experience and patience in the world. She's seen a lot of changes in education in AZ, but even she wasn't truly prepared for this year's new state requirements. She is pissed, the other teachers are pissed, and all the parents are pissed; because this year the legislature defiled a sacred part of childhood: the birthday treat.

Private schools in AZ have generally been left alone by the state, excluding the general kind of licensing requirements that every state has. They even managed to escape AIMS testing, the misguided attempt by AZ to comply with NCLB.

This year though, the Arizona legislature abandoned the usual policy of non-interference, in favor of strict nutritional requirements, calling it the "childrens wellness program".

That's right. With a defunct public school district in Colorado City that was left alone forever (allowing a massive amount of funds to be funneled to the FLDS and Warren Jeffs), and seriously underperforming schools all over the state, the legislature decided to meddle with private schools' nutritional standards.

Granted, public schools are being held to the same standard. No more french fries and pizza served in the cafeteria or during school hours, no more soda in vending machines during school hours, no "fattening" foods served at all in the name of preventing obesity.

Now, I'm all for cafeteria choices being healthier, and more options being available. For too long public school cafeterias in this state haven't been healthy at all (we had an on-site Taco Bell at my high school) and public schools are under the jurisdiction of the state. Change is this area is definitely a good thing.

I do however bristle at the idea of the state legislature determining what can be served at a private school's cafeteria. A private school is the very model of capitalism driving a good education, and as such parents have more say in what is served. From what I have heard from other parents and the teachers, what is being served in the cafeteria at Rosie's school is no different from what was served last year, with the exception of pizza Fridays which are now gone. I hate the fact that the legislature interferred with the private schools in this way, since they were already doing a good job at offering healthy foods.

But this is not what is pissing me off the most. I can deal with public schools being held to nutritional standards, this is all well and good. Private schools being held to the same standards is annoying, but is not causing any substantial change.

Chris and I did however have a problem on parents night when were told we weren't allowed to pack juice in kids' lunches that wasn't 100% natural fruit juice. That is seriously interferring with parental responsibility, since what we pack in our kids' lunches (short of poison) is no one else's concerns. But that's still not the worst part.

The worst part is the banning of the "eeeeevil" cupcakes.

Yes, you read me right. When Rosie's birthday comes up in January and she gets to celebrate her birthday at school, I will not be able to bring in cupcakes. The AZ legislature has decreed that cupcakes do not meet their nutritional standards and from one year to the next, birthday cupcakes have been banned (and all other non-state-sanctioned foodstuffs for that matter).

I could understand when schools required birthday treats to be bought prepackaged from a grocery store instead of homemade. I understand other kids may have allergies and if I forget to mention peanuts in the long list of ingredients in birthday cookies, that could be a problem. I can handle having to buy the treats so the teachers can scan the ingredient list for possible allergies in the class. That doesn't bother me.

But to ban them outright? That's a little extreme. Let the kids have their special moment and their special treats. It's a whole 24 treats out of the year, that's not about to make the kids fat, especially since these kids spend a lot of time playing at the attached playground.

I know cupcakes are a pretty extreme example, as they are pretty well devoid of nutritional value. However, Rosie's class has already had one birthday treat sent home instead of consumed on campus, since a well-intentioned mother brought packaged rice krispie treats and juice boxes. They didn't meet the nutritional standards, and were sent home.

I understand more and more kids are becoming obese at earlier ages. I understand that some parents can't be trusted to make good choices for their kids. However those parents shouldn't keep the rest of us from giving our kids whatever juice box they like or from bringing in a birthday treat once a year for everyone to share. Rosie's teacher and I agree; have all the nutritional standards you want, but kids are entitled to being spoiled once a year on their birthday. Take that away and you take away some of the best memories of childhood. Bringing in yogurt for the class or a book to donate just isn't the same.

The bottom line is yes, kids are becoming fatter, but that's the PARENTS' fault, not the school's fault, and definitely not the fault of the other parents. The vast majority of us can be depended on to pack healthy lunches for our kids; that's our job and responsibility. For the legislature to assume this responsibility is not only abridging our rights as parents, it's downright offensive. Because of the 10% of parents who screw up their responsibility to keep their kids healthy, the rest of us have to forgo treating our kids and their classmates.

Quite simply; the state has no right to tell us what we can feed our own children.

All hope is not lost though. While birthday treats have been banned, Rosie's teachers have no intention of canceling Muffins with Moms and Donuts with Dads, two events whose centerpieces don't meet the state's standards. Of course these events occur outside of school hours, where state standards do not apply. And to the relief of the principal, bratwurst will still be served at the Fall Festival. The legislature may abridge the rights of parents to feed their kids, but take festival food from church folk, and be prepared for real fur to fly.


Just call me Mel, everyone else does.

Fun Fitness Facts

Ok, so I'm doing some reasearch on calorie burn for guys my size; and I found some interesting things out about what activities burn how many calories (per hour over baseline). Here's a sampling of the activities I actually do, calibrated for a 440lb man:
  • Baseline activity: 200
  • Walking the dog: 690
  • Playing Darts: 500
  • Shooting (stationary): 700
  • Shooting (action): 990
  • Recreational Bicycling: 795
  • Excercyling (moderate to heavy): 1450
  • Calisthenics: 1590
  • Circuit Training: 1600
  • Weight Lifting: 1200
  • Car repair: 600
  • Construction/building/home repair: 1090
  • Cooking (sustained activity): 500
  • Cleaning (vigorous): 900
  • Playing with the kids (vigorously): 989
Well, that's a lot of calories being burned, for mostly normal every day activites; why is that?

Simple; again it's thermodynamics. It takes energy to move, energy to breathe, energy to make your heart beat, and energy to maintain your body temperature.

The calorie is a measurement of energy; in particular, the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of one gram of water, one degree centigrade; which works out to 16 calories per ounce per degree farenheit, or 256 calories per pound per degree farenheit; and assuming a 72 degree room temperature, and a 98 degree body temperature, you would need 6656 calories per pound to reach body temp.

Wait a sec, 6656 calories per pound? a 440 pound man would need 3 MILLION calories an hour just to maintain body temperature.

Well, obviously that's wrong, and there's a couple of reasons for that. One, human beings are about 80% water, not 100%, and it takes varying amounts of energy for most of the other substances to be raised a degree.

Two, it doesn't take that many calories constantly to MAINTAIN temperature once it's achieved. Human beings have a fairly low area to mass ratio; so we disapate heat rather slowly (between 1 and 2 degrees per hour given normal clothing,and assuming a 72 degree room temperature).

Finally three, what people think of calories arent actually calories; they're kilocalories (1000 calories). In food terms, almsot everything is listed as kcal, but shown as cal.

No, it doesnt make sense, it's jsut the way they do it.

Anyway, if I were 100 percent water, it would take about 195 Kcalories an hour, just to maintain my body temperature (presuming a 72 degree room); or about 4,680 Kcalories a day.

In reality, we are not 100% water; and of course it takes more than jsut maintaining body temperature to survive, so as I said before, most folks burn somewhere around 11 calories (actually KCal) per pound per day; which in my case works out to about 4,840 KCal per day, or about 202 calories per hour (actually it's more like 225 calories per waking hour, and 150 calories per resting hour)

Okay, anyway, the point is that calorie burn for a given level of activity is directly proportional to the mass of the person burning it. If it takes a given amount of energy to move a given muscle one meter under 200lbs load, it will take about twice that energy for a 4oolb load assuming everything reminad constant.

So those activities that look like "not much work" to someone who only weights 150lbs, burn a HELL of a lot more calories for someone who's 440.

Of course this advantage goes away (hopefully) quickly as you lose weight; but at the moment I've got about a 2.6 to 1 calorie burning advantage for everything I do; over a 170lb "standard" man.

Obviously this doenst always apply to all activities, for one thing mass isn't distributed uniformly, and neither is the load imposed by a given excercise; but for estimation purposes these things are taken as uniform averages.

Hell, food calories are really jsut a rough guess anyway, because every pice of chicken, or cheese that you eat will have slightly different values. On the other side of ocurse, every step you walk is different from every previous step, even if it is by a fraction of a percent.

Honestly NO excercise is effective in causing weight loss, unless it results in a sustained increase of heart rate and body temperature of more than 20 minutes. Oh sure theres a change, but not very much. The 20 minute mark is about where the body says "Oh hey, this is for real; we arent jsut running froma bear or something" and the weight loss, and fitness effects kick in.

These estimates are jsut taht. estimates. They are scientific, but that doesnt mean they are any mroe accurate, because all they are doing is averaging things out, between people, axtivities, temperatures, difficulites etc...

What fitness and weight loss excercise comes down to, is raising your heart rate, and raising your temperature. Any excercise that gets your heart rate up to 80% of peak ideal rate (220 beats per minute minus your age) for at least 20 minutes, will burn 3-5 times your basal rate depending on your fitness level (the body temp will go up 2 degreees or so, and the heart rate will double or triple); no matter what it is. If you are a 30 year old, 440lb man; and walking the dog gets your heart rate up to 155 (it doesnt for me, this is jsut an example), and your temperature up to 101, then you'll burn 2500 calories walking the dog (vs the 690 estimated above).

I dunno about y'all, but I find this stuff fascinating.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Insecurity, and authority

I've had an interesting day today; which is a bit unusual, since I prefer my Sundays to consist of relaxation and football.

Anyway, why has this day been interesting... well...

Mel was raised in a protestant church, but she rejected their "teaching" many years ago. I was raised, and confirmed as a catholic; but I left the church soon after my confirmation.

Of course, being me, that didn't mean I left my religious education behind. I left the church for political and personal reasons, having to do with egos, dogma, coverups, and in general what I consider to be mis-use and abuse of authority.

I continued to study theology, and the history of the church; both to understand where the church and I differed; and to increase my general historical knowledge, because I find history in general fascinating, and in particular I find the history of the church (and religion) second in my interest only to the history of warfare.

Anyway, lets just say that I am well educated on both the theological, and historical background of the catholic church. No, I'm not a theological scholar, but, being me, I've learned as much as I possibly could.

My wife has decided to convert to Catholicism; and I've decided to come back to the church. As part of that, she is going through the RCIA (Rite of Catholic Initiation for Adults); and I am going through it with her, as her sponsor.

The RCIA process in our parish is a 39 week process, lasting from last weekend, until Easter vigil; and then some followup sessions.

The RCIA process consists of several parts, the first of which is "Inquiry". In this phase, the petitioner to the faith is given basic instruction about the tenets of the faith, and the are encouraged to ask questions. The purpose of the inquiry period is to determine whether Catholicism is really RIGHT for you.

Now, some background on the people coming to this class. Most of them are either previously non religious, the rejected the church as a child before their confirmation, or they are coming to the church from various protestant denominations. In this, there are some very important questions that are being asked, and issues that must be reconciled, for people to be able to honestly decide whether they can come to (or come back to) the church.


In todays session questions were raised about two rather important subjects: Biblical Literalism, and the Crucifix.

The people who are leading this class are good people. They are very sincere in their faith, and in their enthusiasm to evangelize it. They are nice people.

They are also very poor teachers.

This class is supposed to be a group of communicants coming together to share their knowledge of, and questions about, god, and Christ.

Neither of these questions were answered... really at all at first. When the questions were asked, the instructor simply restated the "faith fact" that she had just said, which raised the question in the first place.

The first question was on the crucifix, and on religious icons in general. One of the major differences between the majority of protestant theology, and catholic theology; is that many protestants believe that religious icons are equivalent to graven images.

Many protestants believe that when Catholics pray to the crucifix, they are in effect worshipping a false idol. In reality the crucifix is a symbol that helps remind us of Christs nature as both man and divine, and his suffering; and we use this reminder to help us in a deeper understanding of god and Christ. We are not worshipping the cross itself, we are using the cross (and other religious icons), to help us express our connection to god.

The protestant principle (And movement that grew out of it), against religious icons, is called iconoclasm; and is rooted in the objection to the o'erweeing pride, and decadent corruption of the European church in the reformation period.

The reformers believed (with some justification), that the church had become more concerned with gold, and trappings than they were with faith.

Now, in the 400 some years since the protestant reformation began; the catholic church has undergone it's own internal reformation. Yes, the symbols and icons are still there, but the corruption and decadence which prompted the iconoclasm movement in the first place was expelled from the church long ago.

Only many protestant churches preach that the catholic church is a whore; raising graven images of gold in place of god; and caring more for wealth than the soul. This is a POLITICAL posture of these churches, to attack the catholic church. It little basis in either theology, or in current secular reality.

This particular piece of preaching is so pervasive, that it is taken by many protestants to be completely true. It is absolutely critical to understand this context, and to refute this argument.

This RCIA class is being led by a husband and wife team; with the wife doing most of the instruction.

The When the question was asked "How does the church reconcile the protestant argument that the crucifix is contrary to the second commandment?", the answer the instructor gave
was nothing more than a restatement of the original statement, in effect saying "It's this way, because the church says it's this way". Really no effort was made to answer this womans genuine, and important question.

Well, I was a bit irritated by this. One of the reasons I (and many thousands of others) left the church in the first place was this particular attitude. The whole purpose of the RCIA process, is meant to educate people about Catholicism, and to answer their questions. When those questions are not only not answered, but effectively dismissed by an argument to authority, that drives people away from the church.

In any event, I objected to the answer given. I didn't say "hey that's wrong" or anything, what I said was "Well, don't you think this protestant teaching that we 'worship icons', is theologically wrong? That it's primarily anti-catholic politics, or misunderstanding?"

Well, the husband apparently took this as a rebuke to his wife, and he snapped at me "let us teach the class".

Fine, go ahead and teach the class, but this isn't second grade; we're equals here, and we're adults here.

Anyway, a few minutes later, the instructor didn't know the Latin for what INRI meant on the crucifix. She had to resort to her notes, so I said "Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum", which of course means "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews".

When I said that, again, the husband snapped at me.

Finally the question on biblical literalism came up, and again the instructor answered by simply restating the original discussion point.

This time someone else (actually two other people), tried to give better, more complete answers here; and several of us began discussing it.

Anyway, after the class, I was talking with Mel about how dissatisfied I was with the instruction, and the behavior of the teachers. It's clear they have their set, and their routine, and they are incapable of handling anything outside of it. They "know" what they are teaching by rote, and can't deviate from the subject. They don't understand the reasoning behind these things, but think that their understanding is complete, because they have read the book.

This is the worst kind of pseudo knowledge. It isn't even book learning, it is worse than memorization, because with rote memorization you don't have the illusion of wisdom.

A few minutes a go, actually just after I hurt my knee, I got a phone call from the husband half of the team. He said that he didn't think I was wrong in what I was saying, but that I was "challenging and undermining their authority", and that "if I have something to add, or a problem with what has been said, I should wait 'til later".

Well now...

I politely explained to him that I didn't see it that way at all. That this inquiry period is critical to the petitioner, and that they NEED good answers here; that the answers given were not only poor, but they are specifically off putting to people who are already trying to overcome anti-catholic and anti-religious sentiment.

I also stated that I didn't believe there was any issue of "authority" here; that we are all equals in this class; and while they are running the thing, we are all adults here. This class is supposed to be a period of inquiry, and free and open instruction; where we are all free to share our ideas, and experiences of faith.

He said to me "Well if you feel that way, then maybe you should find another class, at another parish. We worked on this script that we follow for weeks, and we don't want it disrupted with inappropriate questions or comments. The father didn't ask YOU to teach this class, he asked US".

I was ANGRY at this point, and clearly he was very angry with me. He felt that I was threatening his, and his wifes position; and he didn't seem to give a damn about god, and about instructing these people properly.

I love this parish. In fact, the feeling of this parish is part of what prompted me to return to the church. I'm not leaving it because of some insecure ass, and his ignorant wife. But 15 years ago, I would have.

I'm really both angered, and saddened by this; because they mean well. They are clearly sincere in their faith; and they don't understand what they re doing wrong. They simply don't understand what I'm trying to say, or why, and they are reacting against it.

In the process, I fear they are driving people away from the church.

I tried to explain this to him, but his heart and his mind was closed against me. To him I was nothing more than a threat to his assumed authority.

I am not normally one to sit down for this sort of thing; but for the moment I'm going to sit down, shut up, and let them do their "job". In the mean while, I'll be instructing Mel privately, sharing my experience, and answering others questions as honestly and completely as I can...

Which is what they should be doing.

Ahhh crap

I just partially dislocated my left knee... again.

Fuck this hurts.

My 4 year old was standing behind and to the side of me, said something to me as I was sitting down; and I'm wearing sticky rubber lug soles on carpet. I twisted my upper body around to talk to her, and whatever way I twisted myself, my foot stayed in position, but my hips and knees did not, and it twisted in a not good way.

I felt my patella "pop" out of position, and managed to collapse into my chair; then I sent my daughter out of the room to get Mel, and popped it back into place.

I didnt want her to see me scream.

Anyway, it's been 20 minutes or so; the pain is pretty bad, but I've loaded up on anti inflammatories, and it seems like it isn't swelling, so I should be OK in a couple days...

Damn this frikken hurts.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Burn Baby Burn

Sooo.... I'm on a diet.

The wife and I have been panning on it for a while, but we werent very serious about it til now. As of monday, I have been cutting my caloric intake in about half.

Of course, since I was averaging somewhere around 5000 calories a day; that's still a fair bit of food.

I won't say this is typical for me, but it wouldn't necessarily have been unusual for me to eat something approximating this in a day:

Sausage McMuffins with egg2450900
Hash Browns2140280
Coffee, 4 cream, 4 sugar2160320

Crispy Chicken Classic1450450
10 Piece McNugget1420420
Hot Mustard Sauce350150
Large French Fries1570570

Crispy Chicken Classic1450450
20 Piece McNugget1840840
Hot Mustard Sauce550250
Large French Fries1570570

Now, this isn't to say that I ate that every day; most days I didn't have breakfast for example, and I certainly didn't eat THAT much fast food (though there was a lot); but I snacked a LOT; and it is substantially representative of what I've been eating for the last ohhh say 10 months or so. Basically since Mel and I were joined up, I've been overeating rather drastically.

Prior to that time, my weight was relatively stable, between 365 and 385 for around 2 years. As of a few days ago, I'm at about 440lbs; meaning I've gained between 55 and 75 lbs in 10 months, or about 7.5 lbs a month.

In order to gain 7.5 lbs a month, you need to eat about 27,000 extra calories in that month; or a little less than 1000 extra calories a day... which pretty much fits in with my patterns; because I generally didn't eat lunch, or breakfast before getting together with Mel, but I snacked a lot more.

My weight has pretty much stabilized at 420-440 given my current 5200 calorie diet, and it was pretty stable at 365-385 given a 4200 calorie diet, taking the median of both weights, my basal burn rate (at my current average activity level) seems to be between 11.2 and 12.2 calories per pound, which is about average for a relatively sedentary, but employed fat man.

The human body is a marvelous thermodynamic engine; simply to stay awake and upright, we need to burn between 16 and 24 calories per lean body mass pound (depending on your basal metabolic rate, activity baseline, the outside environment temperature, and exactly what you're eating), and 6-8 calories per fat body mass pound. The average for all humans is 10-12 calories per pound.

Funny thing; the "secret" to weightloss really is about math. Oh fitness is about excercise, and activity, and metabolism, and a thousand other things; but weight loss (and weight gain) is nothing but math and thermodynamics: For every 3500-3600 calories you consume over your basal burn rate (that 11-12 calories per pound I mentioned) you will gain 1 lb. For every 3500-3600 calories you BURN above your consumption, you will LOSE 1lb (excluding water weight of course).

So anyway, Mel and I are on a diet (she's gained about 35lbs over the past 10 months; pretty much exactly half what I have, which is funny because she weighs almost exactly what I do); and we have both cut our intake in half.

Now, I'm used to controlling my intake (no, not recently, but I used to be a semi-pro athlete, and a serious power lifter; you learn this stuff); but Mel isn't, so we've worked out a system using Google Spreadsheets, to share our intake totals.
Note: This is a GREAT idea by the way; don't obsess over your intake, but really look at what you eat, and you'll be surprised. It's scary how much we eat and don't even think about it. Sharing it with someone else helps keepn you honest, and keep you working at it.
Now here's the thing, cutting your intake in half from 5200 calories, is actually pretty easy; I'm going to share some menus with you, and when you look at them you'll thing "God theres no way he could have been eating twice that"... no, really, I was.

Anyway, the general protocol for rapid weight loss is to cut your stabal basal burn rate in half; slower weight loss by 25%; so that's what we're going for.

Another technique, is to set a target weight, multiply by your basal burn rate, and then cut IT by 25%.

Funny enough, BOTH of those numbers, come out about the same for my target weight of 265 to 285 lbs; and Mels target weight of between 145 and 160lbs (I'm 6'2" and she's 5'9"); at 2400 to 2600 calories per day for me (which is about what Mel is eating now), and between 1400 and 1800 calories per day for Mel.

So anyway, we've set targets at 2600 and 1600 calories respectively; and so far we're doing pretty well.

I want to share our week so far with you; not only to help keep US honest, but also to show everyone out there that you don't need to eat nothing but lettuce and wheat germ to lose a LOT of weight.

Day Item Qty Cal Total

9/11/2006 Starbucks venti iced white mocha 1. 650. 650.

Starbucks fiore .66 570. 376.2

12oz can Mt. Dew 4. 170. 680.

10oz filet mignon, pan broiled 10. 50. 500.

Large roasted potato 1. 290. 290.

Seasonings and oils 1. 150. 150.
Total Calories
Excercise Calories burned in excercise . . .
Basal Burn Calories burned per pound 440. -11. -4840.
Calorie deficit Calories burned in excess of consumption -2193.8

9/12/2006 Turkey Sandwhich
2x sliced bread 75cal ea
3x turkey slices 60 cal each
1x cheese slice 90 cal
1. 420. 420.

Chips 1. 160. 160.

Pickles 2. 10. 20.

Soup 1. 150. 150.

Oz. Pork tenderloin, trimmed, pan broiled 8. 40. 320.

3/4 cup basmati rice, cooked in chicken broth 1. 150. 150.

Oils and seasonings 1. 150. 150.

Tblsp gatorade 3. 50. 150.

Vanilla ice cream, cup 1. 320. 320.

Cookies 2. 100. 200.
Excercise Calories burned in excercise . . .
Basal Burn Calories burned per pound 440. -11. -4840.
Calorie deficit Calories burned in excess of consumption -2800.

9/13/2006 Coffee, oz 40. .5 20.

Heavy cream, tblsp 4. 50. 200.

Raw sugar, tblsp 4. 33. 132.

Cup, cranberry juice cocktail 1. 140. 140.

Cup, watermelon 1. 45. 45.

Naval orange, medium 2. 50. 100.

Buffalo burger, oz 5.5 35. 192.5

Large soft roll 1. 250. 250.

Cheese slice 1. 90. 90.

Bacon slice, broiled 2. 44. 88.

Potato wedges, oz 5. 35. 175.

Pyramid hefeweizen 20. 12. 240.
Total Calories
Excercise Calories burned in excercise . . .
Basal Burn Calories burned per pound 440. -11. -4840.
Calorie deficit Calories burned in excess of consumption -3167.5

9/14/2006 Coffee, OZ 40. .5 20.

Heavy Cream, tblsp 4. 50. 200.

Vanila sugar, tblsp 4. 48. 192.

Polish Sausage 2. 150. 300.

Roll 2. 120. 240.

Slice (1/8), 16" pepperoni pizza 1. 320. 320.

Filet mignon, oz 10. 50. 500.

Sauce (pan drippings, hot sauce, vinegar, milk) 1. 150. 150.

Butter, tblsp 1. 100. 100.

potato, large, baked skin on .5 280. 140.

Sweetcorn, fresh kernel, cup 1. 130. 130.
Excercise Calories burned in excercise . . .
Basal Burn Calories burned per pound 440. -11. -4840.
Calorie deficit Calories burned in excess of consumption -2548.

9/15/2006 Pastrami, extra lean, boiled in mustard 6. 50. 300.

Bread, sourdough, slice 2. 75. 150.

Mustard, tsp 6. 3. 18.

Potato chips, oz 1. 160. 160.

Pickle, nathans deli, spear 2. 10. 20.

Slice (1/8), 16" pepperoni pizza 4. 320. 1280.

Cannoli 1. 375. 375.
Excercise Calories burned in excercise . . .
Basal Burn Calories burned per pound 440. -11. -4840.
Calorie deficit Calories burned in excess of consumption -2537.

So this week, I've eaten, pastrami, sausages, pizza, pork tenderloin, roast beef, Filet mignon twice, even ice cream.

So how much have I gained from eating all that? After all, it's all rich fatty food right? Well, yes it is; though not as much as you might think; but I wasn't kidding when I said weight loss was all about thermodynamics.

You might have noted, that over the past 5 days I've eaten about 13000 fewer calories than I've burned at basal rate; and I haven't changed my fluid consumption habits at all.

So how much have I lost then?

Well, I wish I could tell you accurately, but my scale isnt accurate above 400lbs (though it will read), but it's somewhere around 5 lbs.

Now 5 lbs isn't much; but I haven't even STARTED excercising yet (I need to drop a bit more for my knees, and my wind; for anything other than walking and basic calisthenics); and also, I havent been too restrictive of my food intake. The real result though, is the 20 or so pounds I'll drop this month if things keep going this way. Then I'll adjsut my intake down a bit, and keep going.

I figure once I get down to 400, then I can start back with moderate excercise, other than walking. Sure enough, after christmas I'm planning on picking up a serious home gym (a freeweight machine and a circuit trainer. No bowflex pansy ass shit here).

Mel is starting to lose as well; though obviously not as fast as I am, because I'm starting from so much heavier than she is.

So, I have almost 150 lbs to lose, and Mel has about half that. If we can keep at it, diet, excercise appropriately; I figure we can do it in a year; but I'll allow for 18 months for plateaus. Funny enough 18 months will be just around the time of my birthday.

Of course 18 months ago, I made the same damn promise; but then life took a giant dump on my head, and jsut getting through it took over; I got lazy,a nd I just didn't give a dman.

Well, now I give a damn. I want to be back down to 285, back down to a 42" waist, a 52" chest, and a 20" neck (vs my 56" waist, 56" chest, and 21" neck right now - god I am fat); by the birthday after next. Mel wants to be down to a size 14, maybe even a 12 at the same time.

Wish us luck, and hell, do it yourself if you need to.

If you want to view our progress, check out the spreadsheet. If you want to use it yourself, here's a blank copy to use as a template: FitnessLog.xls