Friday, November 6, 2009

Tactical Victory

It's been a tough week with regard to exercise and eating, but it has ended on quite a high note.

All week long I've been fighting the urge to pig out at night. I've not pigged out per se, but I have been eating more than I should have. My goal is generally follow the adage, "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper." I gather I simply don't need the calories at night. I get home from work, do homework with kids and watch TV or play chess ... no need for lots of calories to do those activities. I tend to eat out of boredom at night.

So my plan is to either stay out of the kitchen when I get home or to simply make myself a large cup of Crystal Light with crushed ice and drink that and chew on the ice. After drinking that much Crystal Light, I should feel full.

Monday through Wednesday was horrible. I was eating cookies, ice cream, Cheetos, hot dogs, toast and anything the kids were eating for dinner. On Thursday, however, I changed things up a bit. I ate a bigger lunch, drank lots of water in the afternoon and then actually followed through on the plan ... I got home, made myself a large cup of Crystal Light with crushed ice and sipped that and munched on the ice. That did the trick. I left the kitchen, watched TV, folded clothes and then played Bejewled Blitz on Facebook. As a side note, I earned one of the highest scores in the world ... over 350K! I was pretty proud of that. My wife and I then watched The Office and went to bed.

I wasn't sure I was going to get up to run this morning, but I set my alarm as usual (4:30am). When it rang, I actually got up, got my running clothes and shoes on and ran my 4 miles. Now to back up a bit, my heart has been really palpitating this week during running and I suspect it has something to do with gas and what I ate the night before. My theory is even stronger now, because this morning I had no heart palpitations during my run and I did not eat dinner last night. After my run and before hopping in the shower, I weighed in at 206 lbs. It made me feel so good!

I continue with the sugar water in the morning and afternoon. However, I've now been adding in ELOO to the drink and that has helped a bit more.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sugar Water

My intent is to drink about 6 tablespoons (not the measuring kind, but the silverware kind) of sugar mixed with water during the day every day. Then at night when I get home after work, I'm supposed to drink 2 tablespoons of extra-light olive oil (ELOO) with water before I eat anything. I've got the sugar water part down. But when I get home, I dig into the food right away.

The thing is ... I'm not even that hungry. I just eat out of boredom. I'd like to not even go into the kitchen and instead go into the office and play on the computer, but that is not an option because I cannot leave my dear wife to tend to 4 hungry kids while I'm off playing games on the computer.

So I'm thinking out loud here ... maybe I can try drinking a large cup of Crystal Light again when I get home ... put lots of ice in it so I can chew on ice ... maybe that'll satisfy my need to masticate.

Other than that, the Shangri-la diet is going well. I'm still hovering right under 210 despite eating Church's Chicken, potato salad, ice cream, brownies and pretty much anything else laying around the house this weekend. I thought I'd be back up to 215 on Monday morning, but the scale went right up to just under 210.

I figure if I can "be good" during the week, I can then go on an 1 to 2 hour workout Saturday morning and then "relax" the rest of the weekend.

One other thing to write ... just a few days before I hopped back onto the diet, I discovered a song by The White Stripes entitled Sugar Never Tasted So Good. It's a catchy song like most White Stripes songs. I kept chuckling the first time I heard it which was the day after I started Shangri-la again.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power by Victor Davis Hanson

What a tremendous book!  I read this book in the Fall of 2009.  I was so impressed and fascinated by this book I decided to read it again.  This is one of those books that should be required reading for every Western Civilization citizen from Europe to America.

As I've finished each chapter, I updated this post with quotes and thoughts I found interesting.

Never has a book taught me as much about my Western culture heritage as this book has.  The sampling of battles across time and space gave me an nice overview of Western civilization.  After reading this book, I wished I could take the History of Civilization courses at BYU again.  I also realized how little history I know and how interesting history can be.  There's still so many books to read with so little time ...

Salamis, September 28, 480 B.C.

The first battle discussed is Salamis.  The main point of this chapter was that free men fight better than enslaved men.  The Greek concept called eleutheria was why the Greeks defeated the Persians in this decisive battle.

Here are a few quotes I particularly liked:

"Greek moralists, in relating culture and ethics, had long equated Hellenic poverty with liberty and excellence, Eastern affluence with slavery and decadence.  So the poet Phycylides wrote, 'The law-biding polis, though small and set on a high rock, outranks senseless Ninevah'" (p. 33).

"When asked why the Greeks did not come to terms with Persia at the outset, the Spartan envoys tell Hydarnes, the military commander of the Western provinces, that the reason is freedom:  'Hydarnes, the advice you give us does not arise from a full knowledge of our situation.  You are knowledgeable about only one half of what is involved; the other half is blank to you.  The reason is that you understand well enough what slavery is, but freedom you have never experienced, so you do not know if it tastes sweet or not.  If you ever did come to experience it, you would advise us to fight for it not with spears only, but with axes too.'" (p. 47).

So the first element of why Western culture is so deadly is that we fight for freedom ... we fight for our families and our way of life.  I wonder if many of our citizens today realize what we have.  If we were to taste or experience anything less than the freedom we have, would we then be more willing to fight for it?  Sometimes I feel that too many take freedom for granted.

Guagamela, October 1, 331 B.C.

The second battle discussed is Guagamela fought by Alexander the Great.  What the Macedonians gave Western culture was shock battle.  Despite the perfect, prepped and flat terrain for his scythed chariots, Darius was not fully prepared for the full-on onslaught of Alexander's shock troops.

"Alexander won at Guagamela and elsewhere in Asia for the same reasons Greek infantry won overseas: theirs was a culture of face-to-face battle of rank-and-file columns, not a contest of mobility, numerical superiority, or ambush." (p. 70)

"Philip (Alexander's father) brought Western warefare an enhanced notion of decisive war ... The Macedonians saw no reason to stop fighting at the collapse of their enemy on the battlefield when he could be demolished in toto, and his house and land looted, destroyed, or annexed." (p. 77)

"Alexander brilliantly employed decisive battle in terrifying ways that its long-conquered Hellenic inventors had never imagined - and in a stroke of real genius he proclaimed that he had killed for the idea of brotherly love.  To Alexander the strategy of war meant not the defeat of the enemy, the return of the dead, the construction of a trophy, and the settlement of existing disputes, but, as his father had taught him, the annihilation of all combatants and the destruction of the culture itself that had dared to field such opposition to his imperial rule." (p. 83)

"I leave the reader with the dilemma of the modern age: the Western manner of fighting bequeathed to us from the Greeks and enhanced by Alexander is so destructive and so lethal that we have essentially reached an impasse.  Few non-Westerners wish to meet our armies in battle.  The only successful response to encountering a Western army seems to be to marshal another Western army.  The state of technology and escalation is such that any intra-Western conflict would have the opposite result of its original Hellenic intent: abject slaughter on both sides would result, rather than quick resolution.  Whereas the polis Greeks discovered shock battle as a glorious method of saving lives and confining conflict to an hour's worth of heroics between armored infantry, Alexander the Great and the Europeans who followed sought to unleash the entire power of their culture to destroy their enemies in a horrendous moment of shock battle.  That moment is now what haunts us" (p. 98)

Cannae, August 2, 216 B.C.

Hannibal Barca was brilliant, but the Roman way of war was truly resilient.  After it's second greatest defeat ever, Rome did not wallow in the mire of loss.  Rather it came back with avengence.  By 202 B.C. the Romans had turned the war around and had invaded Carthage.  The Battle of Zama brought the utter defeat of Carthage.  The reason Rome was able to turn defeat in Cannae into complete victory was due to their constitution and their nation-state, both of which enabled it to systematically raise, organize and deploy legions year after year, battle after battle and war after war.

"Hannibal's pleasure in his victory in the battle was not so great as his dejection, once he saw with amazement how steady and great-souled were the Romans in their deliberations." (Polybius, p. 111)

"The irony of the Second Punic War was that Hannibal, the sworn enemy of Rome, did much to make Rome's social and military foundations even stronger by incorporating the once 'outsider' into the Roman commonwealth.  By his invasion, he helped accelerate a second evolution in the history of Western republican government that would go well beyond the parochial constitutions of the Greek city-states.  The creation of a true nation-state would have military ramifications that would shake the entire Mediterranean world to its core - and help explain much of the frightening military dynamism of the West today." (p. 121)

"Under the late republic and empire to follow, freed slaves and non-Italian Mediterranean peoples would find themselves nearly as equal under the law as Roman blue bloods.

"This revolutionary idea of Western citizenship - replete with ever more rights and responsibilities - would provide superb manpower for the growing legions and a legal framework that would guarantee that the men who fought felt that they themselves in a formal and contractual sense had ratified the conditions of their own battle services.  The ancient Western world would soon come to define itself by culture rather than by race, skin color, or language." (p. 122)

"For although the Romans had clearly been defeated in the field, and their reputation in arms ruined, yet because of the singularity of their constitution, and by wisdom of their deliberative counsel, they not only reclaimed the sovereignty of Italy, and went on to conquer the Carthaginians, but in just a few years themselves became rulers of the entire world." (Polybius, p. 132)

Poitiers, October 11, 732

The Battle of Poitiers or Battle of Tours does not have a lot of accurate information on it.  There are so many differing sources as well as differing opinions on the battle, that it is hard to discern truth from speculation.  Hanson readily admits this, but it is all beside the point.  The important points are 1) Charles Martel led the European army with infantry (without horses) and 2) the Battle of Poitiers was key in the rise of Western European power.

There are several parts I highlighted in the book, but I am only going to mention one because I think it properly sums up the point of this chapter.

"Europe's renewed strength against the Other in the age of gunpowder was facilitated by the gold of the New World, the mass employment of firearms, and new designs of military architecture.  Yet the proper task of the historian is not simply to chart the course for this amazing upsurge in European influence, but to ask why the "Military Revolution" took place in Europe and not elsewhere.  The answer is that throughout the Dark and Middle Ages, European military traditions founded in classical antiquity were kept alive and improved upon in a variety of bloody wars against Islamic armies, Viking raiders, Mongols, and northern barbarian tribes.  The main components of the Western military tradition of freedom, decisive battle, civic militarism, rationalism, vibrant markets, discipline, disent, and free critique were not wiped out by the fall of Rome.  Instead they formed the basis of a succession of Merovingian, Carolingian, French, Dutch, Swiss, German, English, and Spanish militaries that continued the military tradition of classical antiquity.

"Key to this indefatigability was the ancient and medieval emphasis on foot soldiers, and especially the idea of free property owners, rather than slaves or serfs, serving as heavily armed infantrymen." (p. 168)

Tenochtitlán, June 24, 1520 - August 13, 1521

The title of this chapter is named "Technology and the Wages of Reason."  It is so named because he argues that Western culture cultivated an environment of scientific research which was responsible for why a small group of conquistadors destroyed an entire civilization.

I have to admit that this chapter was the most fascinating of all the chapters in this book.  After reading about La Noche Triste and how Cortés barely escaped the Aztec capitol and then in less than a year how he and his men annihilated the Aztecs, I was truly in awe.  Taking all morality about the conquistadors out of the equation, Cortés' comeback has to be one of the all-time best comebacks.  And he was able to make that comeback because of the culture in which he was raised and lived.

"Under the tenets of European wars of annihilation, letting a man like Cortés - or an Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Richard the Lion-Hearted, Napolean, or Lord Chelmsford - escape with his army after defeat was no victory, but only an assurance that the next round would be bloodier still, when an angrier, more experienced, and wiser force would return to settle the issue once and for all." (p. 181)

"In the case of all discoveries, the results of previous labors that have been handed down from others have been advanced bit by bit by those who have taken them on." (Aristotle p. 231)

"Western technological superiority is not merely a result of the military renaissance of the sixteenth century or an accident of history, much less the result of natural resources, but predicated on an age-old method of investigation, a peculiar mentality that dates back to the Greeks and not earlier." (p. 231)

"Cortés, like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Don Juan of Austria, and other Western captains, often annihilated without mercy their numerically superior foes, not because their own soldiers were necessarily better in war, but because their traditions of free inquiry, rationalism, and science most surely were." (p. 232)

Lepanto, Ocotber 7, 1571

The purpose of this chapter ("The Market-or Capitalism Kills") is to offer evidence of how Western technology and capitalism defeat non-Western culture.  Throughout history, non-Western cultures sought out Westerners for technology because non-Western cultures never developed a natural inquiry into science and capitalism.

At Lepanto, it was the free market which allowed the money to be raised to invest in quality and powerful ships which, in the first few minutes of the battle, decimated many of the Turkish ships.

"In Europe the social ramifications of military technology were far less important that its simple efficacy; the sultan, however, was careful that weapons in and of themselves - like printing presses - should not prove to be sources of social and cultural unrest." (p. 248)

Regarding the aftermath of the battle, "there was to be little exegesis and analysis concerning the shortcomings in the sultan's equipment, command, and naval organization.

"In contrast, dozens of highly emotive firsthand narratives in Italian and Spanish - often at odds with each other in a factual and analytical sense - spread throughout the Mediterranean." (p. 251)

"Before the fleet had even sailed, papal ministers had calculated the entire cost of manning two hundred galleys, with crews and provisions, for a year - and had raised the necessary funds in advance." (p. 258)

"The sultan sought out European traders, ship designers, seamen, and imported firearms - even portrait painters - while almost no Turks found their services required in Europe." (p. 262)

And lastly, on a more contemporary note, I found this quote quite appropriate for these times in 2010: "In the twilight of the empire, observers were quick to point out that Roman military impotence was a result of a debased currency, exorbitant taxation, and the manipulation of the market by inefficient government price controls, corrupt governmental traders, and unchecked tax farmers - the wonderful system of raising capital operating in reverse as it devoured savings and emptied the countryside of once-productive yeomen." (p. 275)

Rorke's Drift, January 22-23, 1879

The main point of this chapter was to demonstrate discipline - the ability to do as commanded in order to fight as one group - to defend the group instead of seeking glory for the individual warrior.

There are two quotes that sum up this chapter quite well.

"The Europeans were willing to fight 365 days a year, day or night, regardless of the exigencies of either their Christian faith or the natural year.  Bad weather, disease, and difficult geography were seen as simple obstacles to be conquered by the appropriate technology, military discipline, and capital, rarely as expressions of divine ill will or the hostility of all-powerful spirits.  Europeans often looked at temporary setbacks differently from their adversaries in Asia, America, or Africa.  Defeat signaled no angry god or adverse fate, but rather a rational flaw in either tactics, logistics, or technology, one to be easily remedied on the next occasion - through careful audit and analysis.  The British in Zululand, like all Western armies, and as Clausewitz saw, did envision battle as a continuation of politics by other means.  Unlike the Zulus, the British army did not see war largely as an occasion for individual warriors to garner booty, women, or prestige." (p. 309)

"We hear through Greek literature of the necessity of staying in rank, of rote and discipline as more important than mere strength and bravado.  Men carry their shields, Plutarch wrote, 'for the sake of the entire line' (Moralis 220A).  Real strength and bravery were for carrying a shield in formation, not for killing dozens of the enmy in iindividual combat, which was properly the stuff of epic and mythology.  Xenophon remind us that from freeholding property owners comes such group cohesion and discipline: 'In fighting, just as in working the soil, it is necessary to have the help of other people.' (Oeconomicus 5.14)  Punishments were given only to those who threw down their shields, broke rank, or caused panic, never to those who failed to kill enough of the enemy." (p. 326)

"In the long annals of military history, it is difficult to find anything quite like Rorke's Drift, where a beleaguered force, outnumbered forty to one, survived and killed twenty men for every defender lost.  But then it is also rare to find warriors as well trained as European soldiers, and rarer still to find any Europeans as disciplined as the British redcoats of the late nineteenth century." (p. 333)

Battle of Midway, June 4-8, 1942

The Battle of Midway is used to demonstrate Western individualism.  Hanson cites four critical ways the Americans demonstrated Western individualism and thus won this key battle.

1) "the breaking of the Japanese naval codes"
2) "the repair of the carrier Yorktown"
3) "the nature of the U.S. naval command"
4) "the behavior of American pilots" (p. 370)

He also notes that Japan, although militarily "Westernized" did not change culturally in conjunction with their military revolution and thus caused failures in their defeat at Miday.

Here are a few quotes I had noted from the book.

"Yet the Japanese wide-scale adoption of Western technology was also not always what it seemed at first glance.  There remained stubborn Japanese cultural traditions that would resurface to hamper a truly unblinkered Western approach to scientific research and weapons development.  The Japanese had always entertained an ambiguous attitude about their own breakneck efforts at Westernization." (p. 359)

"The Japanese were not comfortable with the rather different Western notion of seeking out the enemy without deception, to engage in bitter shock collision, one whose deadliness would prove decisive for the side with the greater firepower, discipline, and numbers." (p. 363)

"Although slow to anger, Western constitutional governments usually preferred wars of annihilation ... all part of a cultural tradition to end hostilities quickly, decisively, and utterly." (p. 364-5)

"In the final analysis, the root cause of Japan's defeat, not alone in the Battle of Midway but in the entire war, lies deep in the Japanese national character.  There is an irrationality and impulsiveness about our people which results in actions that are haphazard and often contradictory.  A tradition of provincialism makes us narrow-minded and dogmatic, reluctant to discard prejudices and slow to adopt even necessary improvements if they require a new concept.  Indecisive and vacillating, we succomb readily to conceit, which in turn makes us disdainful of others.  Opportunistic but lacking in a spirit of daring and independance, we are wont to place reliance on others and to truckle to superiors." (M. Fuchida and M. Okumiya, Midway, the Battle That Doomed Japan, 247). (p. 370)

Tet, January 31-April 6, 1968

Reading this chapter, like the rest of the book, was quite enlightening.  This chapter did much to explain not only this key battle in the Vietnam War, but also why and how that war was fought.  All I've known of this war is from watching Hollywood movies.  So reading this chapter has really opened my eyes.

Like the chapter on Cortes and the Aztecs, in which I learned some heavy statistics about the gory and bloody habits of the Aztecs, I learned about the brutality of the North Vietnamese.  It seems that when it comes to Conquistadores and the US military in Vietnam, all we hear about are the brutalities of Cortes and the Marines.  But when compared to the Aztecs and North Vietnamese, these sins seem to pale in comparison.  The Western media was quick to point out Western mistakes and atrocities, but mute on the utter evil the Communists committed.  The reasons behind this imbalanced view are complex, but the fact that this dissention even exists is wholly attributable to Western culture.

There are two passages that stood out to me.  The first essentially discusses what went wrong in the war.  The second sums up the role of dissent and self-critique, which was always on display, in the Viet Nam war.

"How odd that at the pinnacle of a lethal 2,500-year-old military tradition, American planners completely ignored the tenets of the entire Western military heritage.  Cortes - also outnumbered, far from home, in a strange climate, faced with near insurrection among his own troops and threats of recall from home, fighting a fanatical enemy that gave no quarter, with fickle allies - at least knew that his own soldiers and the Spanish crown cared little how many actual bodies of the enemy he might count, but a great deal whether he took and held Tenochtitlan and so ended resistance with his army largely alive.  Lord Chelmsford - likewise surrounded by criticism in and out of the army, under threat of dismissal, ignorant of the exact size, nature, and location of his enemy, suspicious of Boer colonialists, English idealists, and tribal allies - at least realized that until he overran Zululand, destroyed the nucleus of the royal kraals, and captured the king, the war would go on despite the thousands of Zulus who fell to his deadly Martini-Hentry rifles.

"American generals never fully grasped, or never successfully transmitted to the political leadership in Washington, that simple lesson: that the number of enemy killed meant little in and of itself if the land of South Vietnam was not secured and held and the antagonist North Vietnam not invaded, humiliated, or rendered impotent.  Few, if any, of the top American brass resigned out of principle over the disastrous rules of engagement that ensured their brave soldiers would be killed without a real chance of decisive military victory.  It was as if thousands of graduates from American's top military academies had not a clue about their own lethal heritage of the Western way of war." (p. 407)

"This strange propensity for self-critique, civilian audit, and popular criticism of military operations - itself part of the larger Western tradition of personal freedom, consensual government, and individualism - thus poses a paradox.  The encouragement of open assessment and the acknowledgment of error within the military eventually bring forth superior planning and a more flexible response to adversity.

"At the same time, this freedom to distort can often hamper military operations of the moment." (p. 438)

Summary

I'm afraid I'm a victim to how Western media has continually criminalized the West for its wars and brutalities.  There are two sides to every story.  It seems as though all we hear is the one-sided, constant put-down by those who want to see the West destroyed.  The way I see it is that if it were not for the West and its culture, the world would be a much more brutal place with much more death and destruction and injustice.  Death and destruction and injustice will always exist among our imperfect human race.  But that does not mean we simply let tyrants rule us or that we impugn those who seek to destroy tyranny.  The West has consistently provided a culture which allows freedom to exist and flourish.  Without that culture (and the military tradition to go with it), the world would indeed be ruled by tyrants and millions more would be slaves rather than free men.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Working

I've been diligent thus far this week ... at least with taking the SW during the day. The plan is to take 2 tbsp of ELOO when I get home from work at night, but I didn't drink it the last two nights.

Monday night was kind of bad. Although I didn't eat as much as before getting on the Shangri-la Diet, I still ate quite a bit. Last night was much better. I was still slightly hungry when I got home, but I decided to eat some tortilla chips with a cup of a bean-rice-corn stew my wife had made the other day. It was quite delicious, but I felt incredibly stuffed after eating it. After that, I drank two full glasses of water and was done for the night.

This morning I went on the usual jog. After I got home, I weighed in. Since we have an analog scale, it is really tough to tell what the exact reading is, but whatever it was, it was lower than I've ever seen it when I've stepped on that scale. To me, it looked like it was halfway between 205 and 210, so I called it 207.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Outrageous Quotes from the Book

Since I decided to go back on this diet, I pulled out the official Shangri-la Diet book authored by Seth Roberts. As I read the book, I had forgotton a lot of what he had talked about.


As I re-read parts of the book, I am shocked at his intial findings when he began experimenting with fructose.

The fructose water caused an astonishing loss of appetite. This was clear within hours. (I started with a dose that in retrospect was much larger than necessary. With a better, lower dose, it can take longer to notice the loss of appetite.) I ate much less than usual and lost weight fast. Fructose water suppressed my appetite much more than I expected. I halved my daily intake of fructose several times over the next few weeks, yet my appetite did not return. I continued to lose weight quickly, more than two pounds per week. (page 26)

Looking at his chart on page 28, it looks like he took about 10 tablespoons of fructose a day.


Here are two more outrageous quotes:

I ate about one meal every two days.


He was at 185 lbs when he started the fructose. He goes on to state,

I reached 150 pounds in three months.


Wow!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Carinos and the Weight Scale

Friday is when my wife and I got out to dinner (usually). We wanted Italian so we figured Carinos would be good since we've not been there in about 10 years. I had sugar water in the morning (the usual ~3 tbsp). For lunch, I ate a Gala apple that had been sitting in my office the past few days.

After I got home from work, we went out. We ate the bread, the Italian sodas, the lasagne and everything else they dished us. Our conversation was almost entirely on the subject of the Shangri-la Diet. I told her that when she has some time to open Picasa and look at pictures of ourselves from back in 2006 and 2007 when we were both doing the diet. She had a lot of questions, but I talked her through them. I think she's on board. She decided to start on it Monday.

After dinner, we went shopping for groceries (how romantic huh). We got some ice cream. When we got home, we turned on the TV and watched The Office and ate ice cream. In other words, we ate a lot of food last night.

This morning was absolutly beautiful ... 60 degrees, clear blue sky. We went on a jog. Before I headed out the door, I hopped on the scale ... 210. I was pretty shocked because after all we ate, I expected to be over 210. We went on our jog and did about 4 miles. After the jog, I was just under 210, but I'm sure I would have been a little lower because I chugged a very large cup of water before I weighed in.

The only SLD I did today was drink a glass of sugar water. I've just snacked most of the day and have not felt hungry at all.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Immediate Impact

After just two days back on the Shangri-la diet, I've seen serious results.

I drank about 3 tbsp of sugar water (rough measurement since I'm using the sugar dispenser at work) in the morning and another 3 tbsp in the afternoon right before I go home.

During the day, I am just not hungry. Of course I've been able to control myself during the day before Shangri-la, but I'd still be thinking about food. On Shangri-la, I'm not thinking as much about food. Yesterday, all I had to eat at work was a small Gala apple and a V8 (I figure I need to get vitamins some way).

The big challenge for me, however, is when I get home from work. I usually eat whatever my wife has cooked, or I'll scrounge for food in the fridge. The plan with Shangri-la is to drink 2 tbsp of ELOO with water as soon as I get home and then see how I feel in an hour.

So on the first day, I drank the ELOO and an hour later, I ate just half a sandwich and I was done.

Yesterday I did not drink the ELOO because my wife had made her famous chicken broccoli casserole. I ate a kid's bowl size of it (just over a cup). Afterward, I felt like I had just eaten Thanksgiving dinner. I drank a few glasses of water the rest of the evening and I was done.

This morning, I ran my normal 3.1 miles. It was perfect weather ... 68 degrees and low humidity. When I got back, I weighed in: 208 lbs!!

It has been over 4 months since I've been under 210 and I did everything I could to exercise and reduce my calories to get under 210. After four months of that, I'd still fluctuate between 215 and 210. And now after 2 days on Shangri-la, I'm below 210.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Trying to Get Back on the Bandwagon

So I've been running 3 miles most mornings for the past 3 months and I've been trying to control what I eat. But no matter what, I'll occasionally binge eat. Then I'll feel guilty and then I get in my groove again.

Now the last three weeks, I've been quite religious about exercising and eating less. However, regardless of how little I eat and how much I work out, I cannot, for the life of me, break the 210 lbs barrier.

So I decided yesterday to pull out the old Shangri-la diet book and remember how it all worked. It occured to me that the last time I tried SLD back in May, it didn't work because I probably didn't take big enough doses.

I started yesterday and ended up taking about 3 tbsp of sugar with water twice ... once in the morning and once in the afternoon. And since my biggest weakness is eating at night when I get home from work, I took 2 tbsp ELOO with water as soon as I got home. About an hour later, I ate just half a sandwich.

In total for yesterday, I ate a banana, a granola bar, a small box of raisens and half a sandwich. Before I run in the morning, I usually weigh just over 210 and then after my run, I'm right at 210. This morning I did not run and I weighed exactly 210 ... so it seems there is a small victory right off the bat.

I'm actually determined this time to keep this up.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

<a href="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_6WWnY7l5vz8/SnY_TcfZN_I/AAAAAAAAFYI/b9QZo41yva4/s1600-h/angelsdemons.jpg"><img style="MARGIN: 0px 10px 10px 0px; WIDTH: 206px; FLOAT: left; HEIGHT: 320px; CURSOR: hand" id="BLOGGER_PHOTO_ID_5365545609356457970" border="0" alt="" src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_6WWnY7l5vz8/SnY_TcfZN_I/AAAAAAAAFYI/b9QZo41yva4/s320/angelsdemons.jpg" /></a> I read <u>The DaVinci Code</u> back in 2003, or whenever it came out, while we vacationed in Hawaii. I needed a book for the long flights and for the beach and it was popular at the time so I read it. Like many others, I watched the movie when it came out. Both the book and the movie were thrilling.<br /><br />When <u>Angels and Demons</u> came out, I had heard it was much darker than <u>The DaVinci Code</u>. I didn't have much interest, so I forgot about it. After the movie came out, my wife mentioned to me that she wanted to read the book. So while shopping at Target one night, we found the book and bought it. I flew through it.<br /><br />Overall, it was a decent book. I'd say the best part of the book was the middle. The middle chunk was much like <u>The DaVinci Code</u> ... wild chases, long dialogues about symbols and riddles ... the good stuff. But the beginning and the end just weren't that great.<br /><br />I noted that the action (and the point of reading the book) didn't begin until about page 150. As for the end ... it was a little unbelievable (more so than the rest of the book) and seemed like the end of the movie <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clue_(film)">Clue</a> where the endless train of suprises takes the pizzaz out of the whole book.<br /><br />Anyway ... I'm looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out on DVD. Should be a good flick to watch while munching on popcorn.

A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson


I first heard of Victor Davis Hanson when Rush Limbaugh referred to him several years ago. After Rush mentioned him, I googled Victor Davis Hanson and found many, many articles written by him. Soon I learned he was a raisin farmer living in California who is also an ancient Greek author and historian. He seems to be a man who loves, defends and teaches about Western culture. Naturally, I became a fan of his and began to somewhat regularly read his articles posted on the Internet.

Soon I became interested in reading some of his books. But like many, I was very intimidated about picking up any of his books because they all seemed to require knowledge about ancient Greek history.

Like many of the books in my library, I happened upon one of his books at Half-Priced Books. I bought it and put it on the shelf. By the time I finished The Chess Artist, I was in a good situation for regular reading (by riding the bus for 2 hours every day). So I tossed A War Like No Other in my bag one morning and opened it on the bus and began reading. What was amazing to me was how easily Hanson made it to read ancient Greek history. Soon I was several chapters into the book and I was genuinely hooked.

As I lacked a lot of background knowledge and information on the Peloponnesian War, I referred to the Wikipedia entry quite a bit to get an overview of what happened in that war.

I won't go into details about the book since it has been a month or so since I finished reading it, but I will say that this books seemed to have opened up a whole new world for me. I had dipped my toes into ancient Greece while taking history of civilization requirements in college, but I never really got into it that much. But while reading this book, I became fascinated with how wars were fought and how the two cultures of Athens and Sparta collided in that seemingly never-ending war.

I enjoyed this book so much, every time we got to Half-Priced Books, instead of heading right to the chess section, I now head to the history section and look for Victor Davis Hanson books. On our last trip, I landed two VDH books and one general ancient Greek history book (along with a book about the golden age of piracy). So for the next several months, I'll be reading and learning about ancient Greece and reading VDH.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Round 2, Day 2

For Wed. May 27

@ 6:10am - 2 tbsp of ELOO with water. 3 Acai berry and 1 fish oil capsules
@ 10am - SW
@ 11:30am - wheat crackers, 2 small apples, yogurt
@ 5:00pm - SW with 3 Acai berry and 1 fish oil capsules
@ 6:00pm - 2 bit-sized quesadillas
@ 6:20pm - ~3.7 miles jogging (very hot and humid)
@ 8:15pm - 4 bit-sized qusadillas, pita chips with hummace
@ 10:00pm - small bowl of ice cream ... it's gone ... no more temptation :-)

Round 2, Day 1

For Tue May 26:

@ 6:00am - 3 Acai berry & 1 fish oil capsules
@ 10am - ingested ~ 2 tbsp of sugar water
@ 11:30am - ate lunch (wheat crackers, yogurt, 2 small apples, water)
@ 3:00pm - ate small bag of mini cream cookies
@ 5:00pm - ingested ~ 2 tbsp of sugar water with 3 Acai berry & 1 fish oil capsules
@ 6:30pm - went on jog with wife and kids for 40 minutes
@ 8:00pm - ate dinner (two bread sticks, smoothies, can of V8)
@ 10:00pm - bowl of ice cream

I need to cut desert out of my diet for the week. I can accept eating ice cream on the weekends, but not during the week.

I also need to not eat late at night. With our family living so close to the lake park, we're getting home late and eating late. I'm really not hungry ... I just eat. So I need to be a litte proactive about filling that gap with something other than food.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time to Get On Again and Stay On

I haven't been on the SLD for a few years now. I've attempted to get back on it a few times, but it's never stuck.

Lately, I've been trying to substitue fish oil capsules and some Acai berry capsules for ELOO, but I just don't think it is working. So I went to the dietblog.com site this morning and re-read the SLD review. It dawned on me what I was missing ... the calories. Fish oil capsules are only 10 calories, where as I need to be consuming 100-400 tasteless calories a day.

In that review, I read Stephen's comments about how he does SLD and it all seemed to come back. "Drink three tablespoons of sugar in a cup of water every morning at ten o'clock (with no other food or flavors, including mints, diet drinks or chewing tobacco) from 9:00 to 11:00 and two tablespoons of olive oil at 2:30 (with the same no food or flavors from 1:00 to 4:00) and see what has happened after a week."

His last update (on his blog) states that he's been on it for 3 years and he's gone from 245 to 168!

So as of today, I am at 214 (according to my new analog scale ... which I'll be using from now on). That is just 3 pounds shy of what I was back in April 2006 when I started the SLD. I've recently started a more "normal" job that has business day hours instead of shift-work hours. This means I can consistently work out and consistently focus on this "diet."

Which brings me to my next point ... the one thing I learned the first time I did this was that I should not stop with the SW/ELOO. It doesn't take much effort and I need to make it part of my life like breathing.

Here's the daily schedule:

@ 5:30am - workout in the morning (running, biking, etc.)
@ 6:30am - drink ELOO water along with fish oil and Acai berry capsules
@ 9:00-11:ooam - drink sugar water
@ 11:00am - eat lunch
@ 2:00-4:00pm - drink ELOO along with fish oil and Acai berry capsules
@ 6:30-7:00pm - eat dinner and do not eat anything after dinner.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks


I was scanning my bookshelf looking for the next book to read, when I saw Year of Wonders laying loosely on top of the other books. Jill's sister gave her this book. Judging from the cover, it seemed to me the book was directed at the female audience. But I read the back cover and it intrigued me, so I decided to place it on my list.

It took 50 pages for me to get into it. After that, I could not put it down. Although towards the end, I was considering not finishing it.

Summary

Anna Frith tells the story of how her village succumbs to the Plague and how, under the direction of their young minister, the people decide to isolate themselves to keep the Plague from spreading to other villages.

The Gowdie women are healers and try to understand how herbs and roots strengthen and heal people. But many of the villagers believe them to be witches. They die at the hand of a few true believers to the shock of Anna. Later Anna and Elinor Mompellion take up the Gowdie womens' mission and endeavor to bring relief to those who bear the Plague. Their acts of kindness, along with Michael Mompellion's (the minister) unwavering will to keep the village together, help the people endure and survive the Plague.

Once the Plague has passed, the village is shocked again by the murder of Elinor, at the hand of Anna's stepmother. From there, the plot unravels into scandalous secrets and affairs. Anna escapes the village fleeing the dark-side of Michael as well as the Bradfords.

Opinion

Like I said, it took me 50 pages of reading before I got into the book. From then on until the Plague passed, I could not put the book down. But from the point of Elinor's death on, I contemplated not finishing it. But of course it would gnaw at me if I did not finish it.

The body of the story was really enjoyable. I liked reading about the heroics of Anna and Elinor and the determination of Michael. I was really cheering for them. I could also read into the foreshadowing of Elinor's death. I thought she would die of the Plague, but as soon as I began reading the part where the village gathers to celebrate the passing of the Plague, I knew something more sinister would happen.

From the murder of Elinor to the end of the book, I felt like I was reading a lusty, dark novel. The last few chapters just didn't jive with the rest of the book. Michael turned out to be a very dark and corrupt person. Instead of the faithful, pious minister who would be an inspiration, he was the corrupt and evil priest we've seen in movie after movie on our TV and theater screens. I just found it hard to believe.

Brooks' descriptions of events were fabulous. But at times they were too gory. I was very squeamish during the two deliveries Anna attended to ... too much blood and fluid. I guess women probably wouldn't squirm at those descriptions, but it was too much for me. Aphra's treatment of her three-year-old's dead body was a little to much too. After reading that, I considered putting the book down for good. Some parts of the book are definitely R-rated.

Overall, it was a good book, but I know for sure I won't be reading this book again. If it ever is made into a movie, I think I'll have to pass on watching it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

I'm not sure how this book ended up in my library. Jill may have received it from Linda while we were visiting them for Thanksgiving. I had heard of the movie, but I was never interested in it and have never seen it.

I just picked the book up several days ago, started reading it, got hooked and could hardly put it down.

Summary


Chris McCandless was a very smart kid. He did well in school. He was a young man of morals. Once he got a moral code or rule in his head, he would never break it. He did not get along with his father. After finishing college, he quietly made plans to travel the West and not return to his family.


He drove out West, lost his car to a flash flood in Arizona. He hitch-hiked all across the west. He bought a used canoe and floated the Colorado River out to the Gulf of Mexico. He eventually made his way to South Dakoda where he lived with a man who worked as a harvester. He finally decided to test his will by living in the backcountry of Alaska.

Chris survived 112 days in the Denali area. But after eating some moldy wild potato seeds, he became sick and died of stavation. Krakauer surmises that McCandless died from the mold (Rhizoctonia leguminicola) which "produces a potent alkaloid called swainsonine" which also is known to kill livestock who eat damp forage.

The book also digresses a few times and devotes chapters to other adventures. One chapter discusses other men who have tried face the land of Alaska alone. Some failed while others succeded. He also devotes a chapter to Everett Ruess, who similiar to McCandless, lived off the land (in Utah and Arizona), but who disappeared and nothing is known of his death (if indeed he died). The author also sets aside one chapter to explain his fight with the Devil's Thumb ... a legendary mountain in Alaska.

Opinion


It was a very fascinating book. At my age (33 in 2009), I don't understand the recklessness of living such a life. I tried to think back to when I was in my early 20's and the closest thing I could think of was my love of climbing mountains ... not with ropes and such, but just wanting to hike up mountains. I remember wanting to climb Y-Mount in Provo. I managed to get up past the Y to the first crop of rocks. But after seeing a snake slither a foot away from my hand and nearly dieing from a heart attack, I decided to turn around and thank my lucky stars something worse didn't happen to me.

The one thing that bothered me about the book was how the author took his sweet time in telling the story. He digressed quite a few times to explain the lives of other adventurers like McCandless. He also injected quite a bit of personal history into the book too. But once I realized he was going to do this, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

What amazes me is that there are a lot of people who wander. There seems to be a whole culture around hitch hiking, living off the land and having little or no possessions. If ever there is a nuclear holocaust and these people are the only ones who survive, our new civilization will be quite different from the one we live in today.

After reading the book, I found a few actual pictures of McCandless on-line. He had a camera with him and took many pictures of his life on the road and in Alaska. Here are a few.





Thursday, January 8, 2009

The True Believer by Eric Hoffer

I'm not sure where I heard about The True Believer first. I think I heard it referenced on a talk show once or twice and decided that it'd be a good read. I got it for Christmas four or five years ago and ever since, it's been collecting dust.

I started it once before, but lost interest pretty quickly. This time I was able to get into it. What a fascinating book! I marked it up page after page after page. We are seeing examples of mass movements in all stages in our country and around the world today.

I'm not going to summarize it as a whole book, but I will say that Eric Hoffer makes the same point over and over again in the book ... the unfulfilled individual is a fanatic who joins mass movements.


For my own personal use, I'd like to quote several parts I underlined and found interesting. Many of the sections I marked were modern-day examples of a true believer or mass movement.

Some of the Quotes I Marked (my comments in italics)

"Fear of the future causes us to lean against and cling to the present, while faith in the future renders us receptive to change" (9)

"To the frustrated a mass movement offers substitutes either for the whole self or for the elements which make life bearable and which they cannot evoke out of their individual resources" (13)

"The word 'frustrated' is not used in this book as a clinical term. It denotes here people who, for one reason or another, feel that their lives are spoiled or wasted." (Preface, note 1)

"A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business." (14)

"Mass movements are usually accused of doping their followers with hope of the future while cheating them of the enjoyment of the present." (15)

"Discontent is likely to be highest when misery is bearable; when conditions have so improved that an ideal state seems almost within reach." (28)

"It is not actual suffering but the taste of better things which excites people to revolt. A popular upheaval in Soviet Russia is hardly likely before the people get a real taste of the good life." (29)

The previous two quotes remind me of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Westernization brought an end to Russian communism.

"Freedom aggravates at least as much as it alleviates frustration. Freedom of choice places the whole blame of failure on the shoulders of the individual. And as freedom encourages a multiplicity of attempts, it unavoidably multiplies failure and frustration. Freedom alleviates frustration by making available the palliatives of action, movement, change and protest." (31)

"Unless a man has the talents to make something of himself, freedom is an irksome burden." (31)


"We join a mass movement to escape individual responsibility, or, in the words of the ardent young Nazi, 'to be free from freedom.'" (31)

"Almost all our contemporary movement showed in their early stages a hostile attitude for the family, and did all they could to discredit and disrupt it. They did it by undermining the authority of the parents; by facilitating divorce; by taking over the responsibility for feeding, educating and entertaining the children; and by encouraging illegitimacy." (36) The gay movement, Liberal/Socialists, Abortion movements, "family planning"

"The permanent misfits can find salvation only in a complete separation from the self; and they usually find it by losing themselves in the compact collectivity of a mass movement. By renouncing individual will, judgement and ambition, and dedicating all their powers to the service of an eternal cause, they are at last lifted off the endless treadmill which can never lead them to fulfillment." (47) The same could almost be said of Christian discipleship.

"The technique of a mass movement aims to infect people with a malady and then offer the movement as a cure." (54)

"The purpose of the Iron Curtain is perhaps more to prevent the Russian people from reaching out - even in thought - toward an outside world, than to prevent the infiltration of spies and saboteurs." (66) The Information Age makes Iron Curtains difficult to establish.

"Not only does a mass movement depict the present as mean and miserable - it deliberately makes it so. It fashions a pattern of individual existence that is dour, hard, repressive and dull. It decries pleasures and comforts and extols the rigorous life. It views ordinary enjoyment as trivial or even discreditable, and represents the pursuit of personal happiness as immoral". (69)

"The well-adjusted make poor prophets." (72)

"Those who fail in everyday affairs show a tendency to reach out for the impossible ... It is thus that failure in everyday affairs often breeds an extravagant audacity." (76)

"The facts on which the true believer bases his conclusions must not be derived from his experience or observation but from holy writ. 'So tenaciously should we cling to the world revealed by the Gospel, that were I to see all the Angels of Heaven coming down to me to tell me something different, not only would I not be tempted to doubt a single syllable, but I would shut my eyes and stop my ears, for they would not deserve to be either seen or heard.'" (79) I said something similar about the Book of Mormon. Equally, Evangelicals feel the same way about the Bible ... they will not hear anything of further revelation.

"When a movement begins to rationalize its doctrine and make it intelligible, it is a sign that its dynamic span is over; that it is primarily interested in stability." (81)

[Mass movements depict] "man on his own [as ] a helpless, miserable and sinful creature. His only salvation is in rejecting his self and in finding a new life in the bosom of a holy corporate body - be it a church, a nation or a party. In its turn, this vilification of the self keeps passion at a white heat." (85) Discipleship

"Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil." (91)

"Every difficulty and failure within the movement is the work of the devil, and every success is a triumph over his evil plotting." (93) Liberals are quick to point to Bush for all the failures of the past decade ... Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, Global Warming, the Economy ... all of it is Bush's fault.

"Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us." (95)

"The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners. An American's hatred for a fellow American (for Hoover or Roosevelt) is far more virulent than any antipathy he can work up against foreigners. ... Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life." (96) How much do Liberals hate Bush and Conservatives hate Obama.

"The torture chamber is a corporate institution." (101) War on terror.

"It is also plausible that those movements with the greatest inner contradiction between profession and practice - that is to say with a strong feeling of guilt - are likely to be the most fervent in imposing their faith on others." (111) The Global Warming movement

Page 118 has two paragraphs that pretty much summarize what a True Believer is:

"People whose lives are barren and insecure seem to show a greater willingness to obey than people who are self-sufficient and self-confident. To the frustrated, freedom from responsibility is more attractive than freedom from restraint. They are eager to barter their independence for relief from burdens of willing, deciding and being responsible for inevitable failure. They willingly abdicate the directing of their lives to those who want to plan, command and shoulder all responsibility. Moreover, submission by all to a supreme leader is an approach to their ideal of equality.

"In time of crisis, during floods, earthquakes, epidemics, depressions and wars, separate individual effort is of no avail, and people of every condition are ready to obey and follow a leader. To obey is then the only firm point in a chaotic day-by-day existence."

"All the true believers of our time - whether Communist, Nazi, Fascist, Japanese or Catholic - declaimed volubly (and the Communists still do) on the decadence of the Western democracies." (163) The environmentalists

Other Reviews

After reading a few other book reviews on-line, I find it interesting that conservatives point the finger at liberals saying they are true believers while liberals do the same to conservatives. But I guess this is what Hoffer was trying to say toward the beginning of the book ... that just because there are mass movements doesn't make them evil or good per se. There are mass movements and true believers all around us.

"The Legacy of Eric Hoffer" by Thomas Sowell