Vancouver’s public transit is reputed to be the best in North America. It’s not inconceivable that it’s the best public transit system in the Americas.
It has also pointed out to me, over every fucking commute I’ve undertaken these past four days*, that a vast number of hydrocarbons that could otherwise be put to useful purposes are locked up in oblivious idiots who like to crowd into exactly the wrong areas of every fucking vehicle I’ve boarded. When my chosen mode of transportation makes me think of sapient — I use the term loosely — human beings as wasted plastic bags, I need a new damn mode of transportation.
Give me a few months and it’ll probably be a KLR650. Maybe a CB500x. Maybe a G650GS if I’m feeling especially prosperous. I need an Aerostich first.
Fuck commuting by public transit. I’d rather enjoy a 40min commute than treat a 70min commute as at best a temporary coma. Sorry, mom.
* It’s been particularly bad this week, but this is far from an isolated occurrence.
Most lasers — actual devices that amplify light by stimulated emission of radiation — work by bouncing photons back and forth between mirrors through a lasing medium until — zot! — they slide through one partially-reflective mirror. I’ll let you look this shit up on Wikipedia if you so desire, as I’m too drunk to muster the giveafuck myself.
Software lasers are a mildly fanciful generalization of the concept: They get packets bouncing back and forth between mutually-antagonistic routers (or mail servers, or whatever) until one or both of the “mirrors” melts into more or less euphemistic slag. But the generalization is instructive.
A misery laser comes to happen when two or more people of similar political persuasion come together to bitch and moan about Things These Days. One person will bring up a topic that annoys their compatriots; the next will riff off of that topic to reinforce the notion that Things Are Going To Hell; the third will say “yes, and…” (and elaborate!), and then the malaise and frustration will reflect off of the side of the room and propagate back towards the first person.
Efforts to inject optimism into the system are, as you might expect, doomed to failure. You might as well shine a flashlight crosswise through a lasing medium.
Eventually, an optical laser will shoot coherent light off in one or the other direction of its major axis. A software laser will eventually fuck up one or the other mail server (or whatever the fuck services were having a spat). And eventually a misery laser will lead to an emotional breakdown, or perhaps (mostly) minor acts of physical violence.
This is why I don’t talk politics any more. And when people around me do, I fantasize about being on a motorcycle, on a twisty road, half a continent away. Continents are good for that; there’s usually a twisty road somewhere way the fuck far away.
Diets work just the fuck fine. Dieters, on the other hand, are usually stupid fuckups.
The first category of stupid fuckup dieter who says shit like “diets don’t work” is the person who’s not actually dieting. You’ve seen these people, maybe even shared a brain with one of ’em. “I’m on a diet; I started using organic pasta in the five pounds of fettuccine alfredo I eat every night.” “I’m on Atkins; I can eat eleventy billion kcal of bacon and pork rinds as long as I don’t have carbs.” “I’m going vegan. Did you know Oreos are vegan?” Brilliant strategy, cupcake; how many calories are you eating, and how many are you burning? “Oh, well, I don’t have time to pay attention to that stuff.” Sure you do, you just don’t want to. You cannot beat thermodynamics with wishful thinking.
The second category of stupid fuckup dieter does in fact diet, and does so successfully. Then, having demonstrated to themselves and the world that thermodynamics works exactly as you’d expect, this person throws physics the fuck away and expects diet magic to prevent them from regaining all their fat when they go back to eating the same shit, in the same quantities, that made them fat in the first place. “I gained all the weight back; diets don’t work!” That diet worked fine… while you were on it. These sorts of people love to prattle on about “sustainable lifestyle changes” as if that’s somehow an alternative to dieting, rather than the obvious and sensible thing to do after dieting.
2. “Bulking is so haaaard!“
These people, rather than making excuses for not putting any meaningful and thoughfully-directed effort into losing fat, are instead making excuses for not putting any &c. into gaining muscle. Or, some times, just any kind of weight at all. I mean, if you want to make sure you’re gaining muscle and very little fat, the food part gets a little fiddly and you have to work really hard in the squat rack — and I don’t mean curling 65 for a zillion sets of ten, either. But the eating part? Holy shitballs, bulking is fun and motherfucking easy at the recreational level. (There are counterexamples. You’re not one of them.)
Assuming you’re doing enough work in the gym (you probably aren’t doing that, either, but that’s another rant), start by drinking a litre of whole milk every day in addition to “eating like omg soooo much“. Use it to mix your protein shakes or something. (What’s that? You’re “bulking” but not drinking protein shakes? I think we’ve found the fucking problem, Sparky.) If that doesn’t do the trick, add another litre of whole milk. Keep going until it starts to work. If you can’t “force down” all that food, it’s a pretty great sign that you’re not lifting hard enough. Run a Smolov squat cycle or something, you’ll discover your appetite. (“I don’t squat though, I think I read somewhere that it’s bad for your knees. Does Smolov work with leg press?” Kill yourself. Also, I think we found the fucking problem.)
3. “I can’t eat healthy, I don’t have time to cook”
Bullshit. It takes maybe fifteen minutes to prepare a batch of meat slop if you dice the cabbage (or use a food processor) instead of shredding it by hand. Then you let it simmer for a while, during which you can perform all of the incredibly important tasks you’re pretending to have on your plate. Or you can do what you actually want to do “instead of” cooking, like fapping to internet porn or watching CSI: Miami or some shit like that, as long as you take a minute every half hour or so to dig around in the pot with a wooden spoon and make sure the meat slop’s not carbonizing on the bottom of the pot. There you go, roughly half an hour of aggregate effort and you have eight or ten meals. Pack that shit in Pyrex and do it again in a couple of days.
“But eating the same thing over and over is boring!” Fuck you. Meal time is not a trip to Disneyland; it’s primarily about getting nutrition into your body, not entertaining you. Do you insist that every trip to the gas station be a fun and novel experience? No you don’t, because you’re not four years old. Food is the same way.
In unrelated news, it’s christmas vacation season, and I’m planning to finally learn how to snatch properly over the course of my two weeks off. My goal is to lift every day (except the 24th, the 25th, and the 1st, because the gym isn’t open those days), on the following programme:
Do a bunch of squat snatches until my form breaks down
Do high-bar squats or front squats to a max double, then backoffs, with some chins or pullups after each set
Do presses or push presses to a max double, then backoffs, with some chins or pullups after each set
Today I started with overhead squats, but I think that was a mistake. I put the bar overhead for OHSQs by snatching it, and I think doing even three or four terrible, awful, no-good power snatches at the start of my workout poisons my real snatch form just a little. My technique on snatches is fucking terrible, and I’m gonna try to accumulate 400 or so good reps over the course of my vacation time. I would be surprised, but not shocked, if I come back to this blog on January 5th and giddily announce that I’ve snatched bodyweight. I’m sitting around at about 165 (down 20 from March; fuck you again, “diets don’t work” guy), and my best power snatch is 145 — more of a muscle snatch, really, I probably dipped about an inch under that bar. I’m clearly strong enough to snatch 165, I just don’t have the skill or the mindset to do it. Yet.
Protein powder — yup, still on the whey isolate train. Lately I’ve been making two kinds of protein shakes: two scoops of whey isolate and 5g creatine for workouts, and the same plus a teaspoon of Metamucil and a teaspoon of Greens+ for the rest of the time. I don’t have any direct evidence that the latter does me huge amounts of good, but the opportunity cost is negligible so I figure it can’t hurt.
Creatine — still cheap as hell, still silly effective at maintaining strength during glycogen depletion.
Beta alanine — ditched it over the summer, don’t miss it. I’ve been doing a bunch of conditioning lately, and it turns out that “doing a bunch of conditioning” is better for increasing lactate-threshold performance than beta alanine.
L-carnitine l-tartrate — still great. My pre-workout lately is 20mg ephedrine, 200mg caffeine, 1.5g LCLT. It’s super effective!
Melatonin and ZMA — I’m pretty well convinced that these two help me sleep longer and better.
Waxy maize — dropped it. Rather than drinking sawdust shakes for my carb-ups I’m eating sushi. More expensive, but I actually enjoy it.
BCAAs — picked up an “off” bucket of these (smelled sour and foamed on contact with water) and haven’t bothered to replace it. Looking back I think pure leucine was more effective. Gonna see if I can find some of that when I start bulking again.
Liv-Tone — the Greens+ people make this shit, and it is an honest to Jesus hangover preventative. I take two caps of this and two grams of time-release Vitamin C before I go out drinking, and if I get really lit up (and have the presence of mind to remember) the same when I get home. As long as I drink a reasonable amount of water, not only does this leave me with nearly no hangover the next day, but my sleep quality actually seems decent (rather than the usual unhelpful drunk-sleep). I mean, it doesn’t make chronic heavy drinking magically okay from a physiological perspective, but it sure makes occasional shitfacery a lot easier to fit in, even if it’s the night before leg day.
Fish oil, D3 gelcaps, glucosamine/chondroitin/MSM — still. They are cheap and easy.
It’s kind of a slow night in the NFL, so I’m half-assedly digging around the internet for data on alcohol metabolism and ketogenic fat loss.
Basically, my premise is that alcoholic ketoacidosis is a thing, and is both related to ketosis and physiologically different from other forms of ketoacidosis, so maybe there are ways to use it to my advantage. I had a vague notion going in that alcohol consumption — in particular, the hard stuff, rather than maltose-laden beer — somehow speeds up the transition to ketosis after a carb load. If it does so by depleting liver glycogen, a few stiff drinks would act as a cheat code to get deep into ketosis after a depletion workout.
Unfortunately, most of what you get if you google up “alcohol metabolism” is variations on the theme of “OH WOW YOU GUYS, DID YOU KNOW THAT DRINKING TOO MUCH IS BAD FOR YOU? SOME VERY SMART PEOPLE IN WHITE COATS SAID SO, BECAUSE SCIENCE! (No, we won’t tell you the science. You’d never understand it.)” I did, however, come up with some hits.
Recall that the presence of liver glycogen inhibits ketosis, so after a carb load we want to get rid of that nasty hepato-starch as quickly as possible… ideally without soaking up too much intramuscular glycogen, which we’ll want to have around next time we lift. From this remarkably non-histrionic article, we discover that alcohol inhibits gluconeogenesis in the liver. It does this by inhibiting the conversion of lactate to pyruvate; it’s been a while since I’ve done any skill-grinding on ketogenic diet physiology but this doesn’t strike me as directly relevant; it removes a pathway for the liver to generate glucose, but if the liver’s stocked up on glycogen that pathway would be too much effort.
The article also indicates that alcoholic ketoacidosis usually happens after “starvation” (that is, a day or three of fasting), and while we’re going to take advantage of the acute fasting response and its increase in growth hormone and catecholamines that’s going to happen after we drop a few fingers of whiskey. We would like to lift, then eat, then drink, then fast for sixteen-odd hours; and we’d prefer to spend as much of the fast as possible in ketosis. Drinking at the end of the fast, while pleasant, isn’t the operative variable.
This “helpful” little thing reinforces the idea that alcoholic ketoacidosis results from inhibited gluconeogenesis after glycogen depletion. Glycogen depletion’s what we’re after, so about the best we can hope for from inhibited gluconeogenesis is that a drink or three will shut down some of the complementary glucose-releasing processes in the liver and put greater demand on hepatic glycogen stores.
(This blog post has been interrupted by the Patriots remembering that there’s a football game going on in the second half.)
However, all is not lost. This abomination, aside from the quality of the reporting giving me cancer, suggests that… well, I’ll let the paper title speak for itself: “Ethanol acutely stimulates islet blood flow, amplifies insulin secretion, and induces hypoglycemia via NO and vagally mediated mechanisms”. It sure looks like acute alcohol consumption can trigger insulin release, leading to hypoglycemia, which would presumably lead to hepatic glycogen release into blood glucose. Which, y’all will recall, is what we want.
If it’s relevant, which is a big “if”, this’d play right into the Carb Backloading strategy of a big but short-lived insulin spike right before bedtime, disposing of any blood glucose left over from the carb load (or, presumably, liver glycogen if you don’t carb-load the night before a non-lifting day) and setting up a prompt growth hormone spike once you get to sleep. On the other hand, recall that my research methodology is “dick around on Google Scholar until something interesting happens on Sunday Night Football”, so take this with a pillar of salt.
If you ever want to see people gripped by nameless, protean dread, all you have to do is get on a bus.
Most people on buses are students or commuters, their brains deadened by fatigue, oblivious to the horrors that surround them. They squeeze into seats next to grubby strangers or hang listlessly from the handholds, staring with dull lidded eyes at smartphones and occasionally slurping from a cardboard cup of Starbucks. They are mercifully unaware of the terror that envelops them and whisks them to work or school and thence back home
But some people in this waking nightmare are indeed AWAKE. They are inescapably aware of the yawning abyss in which they travel, however desperately they may try to feign the dulled ignorance of their neighbours.
They can’t tell you what they fear, only that they fear it and that it is indeed fearful.
Seats are places of safety. When an Awake rider boards a Bus, he or she scurries to the nearest empty bench. But seats can also become traps, like foxholes can become graves under artillery fire; sitting constantly risks that one of the deadened, zombielike commuters might sit next to you, trapping you in the yawning horror of public transit with neither respite nor recourse.
Some of the Awakened will place bags or boxes on the seat next to them, like sleepless children whose blankets are their only protection against the carnassial things in the dark. But this too carries risk, that of rousing one of the Oblivious from their stupor into indignant confrontation. The wrath of a soul-deadened commuter may be less fearful than the ineffable terror of The Bus, but none of the Awakened dare risk being weakened by the former in the face of the latter.
Lacking the security of an unaccompanied seat, the Awake huddle near the exits, clinging desperately to this proximity despite the rude shocks of the Oblivious squeezing past them into the depths of the bus’s interior and the cacodaemoniacal scolding of the brusque and uncaring Driver. Only when the opprobrium of the Oblivious threatens to boil over into violent action will the Awakened be pressed into the bowels of The Bus, pressed from all sides by sullen, looming crowds of the Oblivious and shriekingly distant from the portals that lead to the meager safety of the outside world.
Most dreadful of all of The Bus’s confines is the rear deck, up two steps from the main deck and with no exits of its own, only a single cramped portal leading to the rear doors. The Awake will never enter the rear deck of an even remotely crowded Bus, and resist most desperately being chivvied into this area even when prodded by throngs of the Oblivious under the maddening lashes of the Driver’s instruction. For even when trapped in the aisle between exits, if an Awake rider finds his path to an exit blocked by the Oblivious, he may still hope to find passage to the other exit; but any Awake so trapped on the rear deck has no recourse beyond panicked shoving and terrified shrieks. (It is an article of faith among the Awake that a tap on the shoulder and a quiet “excuse me”, courtesies otherwise respected as a matter of course, are of no avail on The Bus.)
Once perilously ensconced on The Bus, the Awake peer desperately at the world outside as it whizzes past the windows in a dreamlike blur, their fear-dilated eyes searching for landmarks that might indicate progress towards the respite of Their Stop. Any and every obstacle between themselves and this sanctuary is an object of the utmost horror, be it unexpected construction causing a blockage of traffic, inclement weather clouding the windows, or a mass of Oblivious commuters between themselves and the pull-cord or button that instructs the Driver to halt at Their Stop. Faced with such impediments, the Awake become more and more agitated, but since the circumstances are beyond their control they rarely have any recourse but to stand, sweating and shaking, and pray to the uncaring gods that they may be granted timely exit from The Bus.
On occasion, whether by mischance or cruel conspiracy of fate, one of the Awake will board an unfamiliar Bus on an express route. Thereupon, they will witness another traveller request egress at the next Stop, only for the hideous and uncaring Driver to pass a visible stop by with neither hesitation nor remorse. This provokes within the Awake passenger such frantic terror that they may launch themselves at the nearest pull-cord or button, heedless to the leaden Oblivious in their way, and yank or pound frantically on this device to no apparent effect. Even the other Awake on The Bus might turn in nervous curiosity to search out the source of the terror, and their apparent complacence in the face of endless purgatory drives the tresspassing Awake to new levels of panic.
Then The Bus stops, and the unperturbed traveller exits, leaving the Awake to shudder at the apparent randomness of the Driver, granting sought-after escape or horrible imprisonment seemingly at his whim.