Summer tunes

During the summer of 2007 there were a few albums that got more than their fair share of playing time. These albums ended up being theme music for last summer, and I have no doubt that listening to them going forward will evoke strong memories of the summer of 2007. Here they are in no particular order:

Coldplay — X&Y: An uncle, of all people, turned me onto this album. I have mixed feelings about Coldplay. They’ve put out some enjoyable songs like Clocks and maybe Yellow, but all-in-all, most of their previous efforts have left me disappointed. That is, until X&Y. There is a veritable quadruplet of songs on this album that are fantastic. Start at Fix You, then Talk, skip X&Y to get to the radio-hit Speed of Sound only to round it out with A Message.

I have no idea why the crammed the mediocre song X&Y in the midst of this fantastic quadruplet of songs, but they did. Oh well. And don’t get me wrong, there are a couple other songs on the album that are “classic Coldplay” in the sense that they are less-than-stellar music. But the awesomeness of the aforemetioned four songs makes up for it. Unfortunately, I fully expect Coldplay to never repeat this confluence of solid music-making.

The Postal Service — Give Up: This album came out awhile ago (Early 2003 to be specific). And I was first introduced to it by my friend Larry after he did a solo cover of “Such Great Heights” and sent me his recording. That was in 2004. It took me three years to follow-up and listen to the album. Give Up is incredible music from the beats and lyrics of Such Great Heights to the provactive imagery of Clark Gable or We will become silhouettes or Recycled air. Even if you don’t care for Ben Gibbard‘s other band (Death Cab for Cutie), there’s a great chance you’ll still like The Postal Service. My only gripe with Give Up is that its too short. Alas, some damn fine music. I’m keeping my ears open for a repeat album.

Foo Fighters — In Your Honor: I only list In Your Honor while admitting that I caught up on the entire Foo Fighters discography last summer. Perhaps not unlike The Postal Service, it just took me awhile to be “ready” for Foo Fighters. Alas, the two-disc set of In Your Honor is fantastic music, and I particularly enjoyed Dave Grohl’s more-or-less solo, acoustic album (i.e. Miracle or On the mend). It’s akin to Beck‘s departure from his normal motif in Sea Change (Another one worth checking out whether you like Beck’s other stuff or not).

Peter, Bjorn & John — Writer’s Block: I picked up this album after hearing Young Folks on some internet radio station. Writer’s Block is just a fun, indie rock album. It’s not genius, but if you’re looking for something slightly different than the mainstream and want an enjoyable album, its worth checking out.

Muse — Black Holes and Revelations: Muse is a bit different, but I found this album to be great workout/biking music. It’s loud, rocking, and some of the lyrics are thought-provoking, if not typically and predictably anti-Bush (yawn). Nonetheless, the album’s namesake song Starlight, which includes the lyric “black holes and revelations”, is fun, weird and enjoyable. Supermassive Black Hole is another different, funkily enjoyable tune. This album is completely associated with biking around Ansley and Piedmont Park.

A request

Now that summer 2008 is fully-on, I’m looking for some new music — good tunes that ultimately end up as my 2008 theme music, forever associated with whatever this summer brings. So if you have any albums you think I might enjoy, please comment below.

Follow-up on Oils

I first got keen on learning more about oils thanks to Scott Kustes of Modern Forager (See All about oils, Coconut milk and Whiskey) and then wrote More on Coconut Oil. As a result of learning a bit more on oils, I’ve replaced olive oil with coconut oil whenever I use my cast iron skillet, which is quite often. The results have been fantastic: less smoking, better flavor and an easier to clean skillet (no idea why).

So I was happy to find Scott had expanded on his first post with Ten Oils And How To Use Them. It’s worth a read, so go check it out.

Armed with this additional data, I’ve got to figure out where to get lard, tallow and palm oil — I looked briefly for palm oil while at Publix the other day and came up empty-handed. And I have no idea if Augusta even has a farmer’s market.

Crossfit Augusta

I am seeing some folks hit my site looking for CrossFit Augusta. As the official CrossFit Augusta website (crossfitofaugusta.com) is under construction and missing a few key details, below you’ll find some unofficial information that would-be Augusta Crossfitters might find useful:

  • Location: 766 Industrial Park Drive / Evans, GA 30809 (Google Maps).

    For Augusta veterans, this is across the street from the ruins of Krystal River Water Park. Otherwise, you can get there from Fury’s Ferry north of the Fury’s Ferry Jones Creek entrance or from where Evans to Lock Rd hits Washington Rd near the new Lowe’s/Home Depot/Omni (Use those points of reference and then look at the map link).

    The sign is a little small, but if you see the “Krystal River” sign, you’re close!

  • Phone: 706.877.3279
  • Contacts: Charlie and John
  • Hours of operation: Monday — Friday from 4:30 to 8:30pm; Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm; Sunday — CLOSED

I’m in week two of CrossFit. It’s kicking my butt, but it a good, painful way. Check it out!

INTJ

I first took the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (or maybe it was Myers-Briggs — I can’t keep them straight) when I was sixteen. If I recall, I registered an ENTP. Since then, I’ve taken the test a couple other times and registered an INTJ. I am a borderline introvert (or borderline extrovert depending on how you look at it). Though I typically say I’m introverted, I can distinctly recall getting an extrovert’s high while leading meetings and rallying a large group of people.

As for the P-to-J switch, I’ve just gotten more certain about things as I’ve grown older — for better or worse.

From time to time, I return to reading the description of an INTJ. And though doing so triggers a dull alarm of skepticism, I find the description of an INTJ damn close to sounding like me, even having read the alternatives (for the other fifteen combinations generally, and the other NT combos specifically).

Here’s a clip from the description of an INTJ:

Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

INTJs are perfectionists, with a seemingly endless capacity for improving upon anything that takes their interest. What prevents them from becoming chronically bogged down in this pursuit of perfection is the pragmatism so characteristic of the type: INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion “Does it work?” to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms. This in turn produces an unusual independence of mind, freeing the INTJ from the constraints of authority, convention, or sentiment for its own sake.

INTJs are known as the “Systems Builders” of the types, perhaps in part because they possess the unusual trait combination of imagination and reliability. Whatever system an INTJ happens to be working on is for them the equivalent of a moral cause to an INTJ; both perfectionism and disregard for authority may come into play …

Another descriptor associated with INTJ? Single-mindedness. I have a sometimes-maddening tendency to dive deep into a subject for a substantial period of time — a trait my wife will swear by.

I mostly enjoy how I can passionately pursue a subject of study for a period of time; however, I can also be a generalist. This combo leads me to bounce around, intensely learning new subjects but eventually losing interest as I bounce again.

Amidst all the bouncing, I’m always working to fit the varying bits of knowledge I accumulate together to better understand the world around me.

One interesting thing about INTJs (And NTs generally) is that some sources say only 2% of the population are INTJs. Whether this is true or not, I don’t know. What I have noticed anecdotally, however, is that a large number of libertarians and anarchists are NTs. And via the internet, a lot of us NTs have found each other (via things I ca”free hand” mechanisms) and communed!

What’s the point of boning up on a personality test? I enjoy applying the framework of typed-personalities to my understanding of myself and those around me. Though I believe I am good at understanding systems quickly, understanding myself is a never-ending work in progress. Specifically, as I search for my ideal career, I seek guidance both externally and via introspection. I’m always disappointed to find all the guides telling me that careers in sciences and engineering are common in INTJs.

I’m doing neither. D’oh!

Insulin Control: The Common Denominator of the Low-Carb / Fasting / Caloric Restriction Diets.

Over the past four months, I’ve turned into a staunch advocate of Paleo / low-carb / intermittent fasting (See IF/low-carb, caloric restriction, ketosis, hormesis). I proselytize because this diet lifestyle has had a significant impact on my physical health and my understanding of nutrition. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before my advocacy spurred the comment that there is “No zealot like the converted.” Oof!

The retort stuck with me. I am a passionate about spreading good ideas. And this idea concerning the health of my friends and family was not only a good idea in theory, but also one in practice. The last thing I wanted was for my zeal to turn individuals away. I needed a better in than “low-carb” or “fasting”.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of pre-conceived notions and pent-up negative biases towards “low-carb” in specific and diets in general. Most people have experienced nothing but disappointment from dieting and/or strict exercise regiments. When the low-carb meme went mainstream a few years ago, non-believers and skeptics rightfully vocalized their doubt. My own curiosity brought me to read a good portion of Atkins New Diet Revolution; however, I was unconvinced. Atkins’ rhetoric was all pathos and little ethos: I needed the science. Not surprisingly, I never even tried the diet, more or less writing it off as just another fad.

Fast-forward to today. There is an ever-growing number of branded low-carbohydrate diets, and additionally, there are a growing number of diets that incorporate caloric restriction or fasting (Popular examples of low-carb and/or fasting include Paleo / DeVany, Protein Power, Atkins, South Beach, Warrior Diet, The Zone, Eat Stop Eat, Fast-5, UpDayDownDay, Bantingism, etc.). Such a plethora of similar yet nuanced regiments is confusing. Who wants to wade through them all to explain their own method? Who wants to lay caveat upon caveat on a diet to tailor fit it to your own experience just to explain it to an inquisitor? My eyes glaze over just thinking about it!

There is a better way. All of these diets have a clear, underlying purpose: to control insulin. Why not just call it Insulin control?

By starting with this core tenet, I can transcend the diet denominational mess.

Insulin control gets to the heart of the matter, which is that excess or chronic insulin in the blood leads to fat storage, loss of insulin sensitivity / increased insulin resistance, downregulation of fat mobilizing hormones (adrenaline, noradrenaline, glucagon and human growth hormone), and can ultimately lead to symptoms of metabolic syndrome, including hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. How do you control insulin? Insulin control can be accomplished via reduction in carbohydrate intake or via controlling feeding times (via fasting) so that insulin levels sufficiently drop, which allows fat mobilization to resume.

Calling what we do “insulin control” focuses on the problem and implies the solution. It also grounds the diet/lifestyle to its fundamental science while avoiding the pitfalls of bias-loaded words. Starting an argument from “insulin control” gets me to low-carb, to fasting, to evolution, to metabolic syndrome, to higher-fat consumption, to more natural/less process foods. Why bother with the varying brands when it’s all about insulin control!

Further reading:

  • Go here to get started on some fantastic quotes on insulin, sugar, glucose, etc. If you’re not already practicing a low-carbohydrate lifestyle, read up.
  • Art De Vany wrote a reasoned response to the contention that the Paleo / “EF Way of eating” (See how muddled that is!?) was a fad diet. His most excellent point was that the current American diet is much more a fad having been around for merely decades relative to the stacked millennia of two million years (Tyranny of Present fallacy).
  • In mentioning Johnson’s UpDayDownDay diet, Patri Friedman notes how excellent it is that such a variation of research is occurring surrounding caloric restriction. What I wonder: is caloric restriction / fasting an emerging diet trend? I plan on doing a tiny blog on this later. Stay tuned.
  • While I was writing this entry, the IF life published a diagram that lays out how to stay on track for weight loss. It’s a useful, informative and simple diagram. And what will you note in the middlemost bubble? Control insulin!

Kipping Pull-ups

A huge part of Crossfit is pull-ups. Contrary to the tenet that the only proper pull-up is one that has no lower body movement, the default pull-up in Crossfit is one that employs a “kip” or a “kipping” movement. Kipping is a perfected derivative of what most of us do when we try to do a pull-up naturally — namely, use our swinging body and legs to aid us on the upward motion.

I am still learning the kipping pull-up. And since they are so integral to Crossfit, it’s imperative that I learn this motion fast.

Thankfully, there is YouTube. Specifically, I found a short, four-part series of tutorial videos on kipping pull-ups!

As today was Day 5 of Crossfit for me and the fourth day in a row this week, I’m resting tomorrow. However, I plan on getting in some kipping pull-up practice this weekend. These videos will be my guide. My goal is to get decent at kipping pull-ups over the next two weeks.

If you’re curious about kipping pull-ups or want to learn them yourself, they are embedded below (after the jump).
Continue Reading…

Reporter reacts to Augusta: “I’m dyin’ in this countryass town”

Not suitable for work, this video clip of a reporter switching from “reporter-mode” to OMGWTFYGTBFKM after having a bug fly into his mouth is hilarious. And what takes it from just another bit of humor on the web to personal blogworthy is that it took place here in Augusta, Georgia.

I disagree with his classification of Augusta, Georgia as “countryass”. Sure, Augusta is a far cry from the urban culture of Atlanta. Is it behind the times? Yeah. Boring? Certainly. Bible-belt? Uh-huh. But countryass? Not even close — at least not compared to most of south Georgia or all of “Alabubba”.

And hey, though 2nd place to Atlanta is a distant not-even-close, “Disgusta” is the second largest city in the state. Plus, Augusta is the home of the Augusta National / Masters! Augusta’s BBQ offerings aren’t even that great.

Regardless, I empathize with this guy. Summer in Augusta is uncomfortably hot and humid, the bugs can be awful, and I confess to wanting to get out of this town, myself.

If you liked it the first time, watch it again. Augusta!

UPDATE 2008-06-18: It’s come to my attention that the reporter in the video is in Augusta, Arkansas — not Augusta, Georgia. Makes me a little sad. His name is Isiah Carey. Found this out over here.

Day 4: Crossfit

In my recent update, I mentioned joining Crossfit Augusta. Today was day four. I’ve been sore since the first workout, and intensely sore since yesterday, but I plunge forward. Though I wonder if such intense, regular workouts are sustainable for the long-term, I have no doubt following the Crossfit protocol for a few months will do wonders for my physical fitness.

I’ve come a long way via the lifestyle switch to a more “paleo” diet (low-carb / intermittent fasting). I’m merely upping the ante as my home workouts just weren’t intense enough (Plus I felt like I was getting in a rut with them). I expect crossfit to push me past my comfort zone.

Improve your Health via Hormesis – Stress Out.

As alluded to previously, injecting small doses of stress into an otherwise harmonious existence can improve your health. This phenomenon is called hormesis. Here’s a googled definition of hormesis:

A dose response phenomenon whereby a substance that in a high dose inhibits (or is toxic to) a biological process, in a much smaller dose will stimulate (or protect) that same process.

Toxic substances stress us. Stephan explained it nicely over at Whole Health Source:

Hormesis … increases resistance to other, more intense or chronic stressors. It can increase resistance to a variety of stresses, not only the one to which you are exposed.

Hormesis is a powerful, non-obvious-yet-evolutionarily-intuitive idea — I can improve my health by intentionally introducing some stress into my otherwise pampered, stress-free life. And here are a few applications:

  • High-intensity exercise. I lump in here anything that briefly elevates my heart-rate and requires my body to do a significant amount of work. Weight-lifting, sprinting and kettlebell drills readily come to mind.
  • Fasting / Intermittent Fasting. Going without food is quite possibly the easiest path to the benefits of hormesis. Shameless self-promotion: on fasting (application and benefits) and more recently on caloric restriction / resveratrol and the potential for slowing aging.
  • Drinking alcohol. We’ve heard this before — drinking one to two alcoholic beverages a day may benefit cardiovascular health. It seems that the benefit of drinking alcohol is from its hormetic effect.
  • Smoking tobacco. First, I gleaned this application from Arthur De Vany. Dr. DeVany applies it via cigars. I see no reason it could not also be applied via a pipe or some type of snuff or chew. I personally enjoy the occassional cigar or alternatively, will smoke a pipe. One thing to note: inhaling might eliminate the hormetic benefit of tobacco use by taking it from a mild dose to a heavy dose. I simply don’t know.
  • Cold showers. I snagged this one from Richard Nikoley. I then reread the idea from Art and then Stephan, who says it helps fire up “non-shivering thermogenesis”. If you want to read more about activating cold via hormesis, check out what a DeVany reader sent in on the subject of brief exposure to cold.
  • Radiation. I mention this only for completeness, but small exposure to radiation is a tactic to increase resistance to larger doses of radiation later (Surprise, its controversial). I don’t know of any way for normal folks to apply radiation hormesis.

The above are fairly non-controversial ways to practice “stressing out”, and thereby benefit from hormesis (Excepting radiation hormesis). However, I wonder if there are other things one could do. Here are some alternative hormetic possibilities:

  • Get less sleep. Maybe periodically cut back on your sleep by 30%. I’ve occasionally experienced increased alertness on less sleep. However, the positive effect wears off in time. Prolonged lack of sleep also weakens your immune system, which doesn’t sound too beneficial.
  • Binge on fruit. Assuming you are a low-carber, eating a lot of fruit at one time should result in a sizeable insulin response. If you aren’t on a low-carbohydrate diet, binging on fruit won’t do much to acutely stress your body.
  • Get some sun. Beneficial for Vitamin D purposes, seems like this would also make sense for potential hormetic effects.
  • Expose your kids to allergens. Didn’t know for sure where to put this one and I don’t have kids. However, I’ve read that exposing your kids to cats may reduce the risk of allergies and asthma. Is the benefit here hormesis? Also, is there a risk in overprotecting your kids from germs?

If you have any other ideas for unconventional applications of hormesis, I would love to hear them.

Finally, let’s remember that high doses of toxic substances can impair your health or even kill you. High doses of stress are likewise unhealthy. Therefore, may I present one last list of bad ways to stress out:

  • Over-training (And also, potentially, endurance exercise). Not allowing your body to recover from exercise is a recipe for disaster. Endurance activities like running marathons (or jogging long-distances) might also be harmful (Art De Vany thinks so). I speculate that endurance activities may be safe so long as they are using fat oxidation for energy (See endurance athlete Mark Twight’s write-up on fat). This would necessarily require a lower intensity for most all of us who don’t train to exercise for hours on end — an effort probably no more intense than walking or leisurely riding a bike.
  • Stressing about work, money, family, relationships, career, or the meaning of life. We’ve all done this. However, can you imagine our evolutionary ancestors experiencing existential angst? I can’t. Food availability, yes. Finding shelter, sure. Avoiding predators, certainly. I’m no expert on meditation or any other specific methods for stress reduction. When I get stressed out about life for too long, I just try and step back and see the big picture and/or let go. It helps.
  • Cut back on the caffeine. This is a tough one for me. I drink a good bit of coffee on a daily basis. Caffeine might have hormetic benefits — but I doubt they occur if you’re a chronic user like me.

Anything I missed? If so, please let me know.

Parting thoughts: introduce some “stress” to your life and improve your health. A cold shower followed-up by a 24-hour fast is an easy way to get started. Finish off the fast with some hill sprints. Practice hormesis. If you can consciously control the stressors in your life, you just might live longer.

Page 25 of 27« First...1020«2324252627»