Lenox Mall Blogging

I’m presently “mallrooned”.

My better half and her female accomplices are perusing Lenox Mall. Like others who have grown weary of the Mall, I have found sanctuary in a pleather chair outside of Macy’s.

Armed with my blackberry and a grande-ly overpriced Cafe Americana from Starbucks, I observe:

  • Mall security guards appear considerably less menacing whilst riding Segway scooters. It doesn’t help any that they have to wear goofy bike helmets. Regardless, I’m jealous as said Segways look like a ton of nerdy fun.
  • I still fail to understand the style of certain teenagers and urbanites. I’m specifically referring to clothing that is 2-3 sizes too big, flashy, and/or hats with unshaped bills, still sporting their mirror-finish marketing stickers. Is this an attempt to imply that said hat is “new”? Isn’t the overly baggy clothing cumbersome to move around in? Is this merely a difference in aesthetic taste or something indicative of some greater difference in fundamental philosophy? Am I getting old?
  • Consumers in Buckhead Atlanta are still shopping in droves. Or at least acting the part.
  • Banana Republic is hurting – big, big sales going on (additionally, I am getting sales announcement emails from them on a weekly basis now).
  • Cargo shorts and flipflops: still stylish for men. So thinks this blogger, anyway. Yes, I am wearing cargo shorts and flipflops.
  • Is it sunny in here? Nothing says “poser” louder than wearing sunglasses indoors. Doubly so in a mall. Multiply by five if said sunglasses have a mirror finish with a chrome or gold frame.
  • I’m gonna go out on a limb here, but I’m guessing that the backpacked, brochure carrying, camera toting Asian family is not from around here. Particlarly the guy carrying the white leather purse (?) with the perma-smile on his face.
  • It’s cool for southern boys to wear pastels. Even cooler still when you double up and go for the “twin pink polo shirt” look. With your dad. With your pastel yellow Masters baseball cap. Whispy blonde bangs and pastel blue-polo-wearing-brother, optional.
  • Better still, go to the mall with your girlfriend. Wear matching teal tshirts – one saying “Fitch” and the other saying “Abercrombie”. Then, round out the look with matching rhinestone belt buckles. Complete the look by wearing your sunglasses indoors.
  • And that’s as much as I can handle.

Now how do I hijack that Segway?

i can has lizard? Weekend in Atlanta

About to head “home” to Atlanta for the weekend. Will be hanging out with friends and family and celebrating a birthday, among other plans yet to be made.

In other mundane news today, I caught our favorite 19 lb. cat Eli being tormented by a lizard. Said lizard was toying with Eli, walking back and forth on the window sill, occasionally pausing to peer in (With a touch of spite?). This went on for at least an hour. Poor Eli!

A la lolcatz:

Have a good weekend!

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).
Read more “Kipping Pull-ups”

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.

[video:youtube:BUS6nKpddec]

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.