Hominid Biped

Strange Happenings
According to Prof. Travis Pickering at the University of Wisconsin around 6 million years ago something strange happened. A Hominid quadruped, our apelike ancestor, stood up.

Why is that weird? It was the first venture towards a new creature, that later became known as homo sapien.

Why did apes stand up?

Some theories suggest it started high up in tree canopies, with Orangutans standing upright to reach for high hung fruit. Standing up allowed apes to reach fruits and manoeuvre along thin fruit bearing branches, sometimes holding on to upper branches. So for a time, the Orangutans developed this ability, when needed. This had a far-reaching impact unseen by those orange apes.

This manoeuvrability opened the door to something more revolutionary.

Second Weirdness

Some years later when the African climate began to change, hominids deserted their arboreal habitat and travailed the savannah in search of food. Increased competition for tree bearing fruits and a dwindling food supply caused by a changing climate, drove the hominids out their existing habitat. To come to terms with their new environment, the hominids stood up.


Their biped stance had three immediate advantages.

1. Standing upright, as they were taller, allowed them to see further and spot food and foes. Their higher view point gave them an advantage.

2. Standing upright reduced the surface area exposed to the sun, compared to a quadruped. When you're standing upright, only shoulders and head are exposed to the sun. This meant they sweat less than other animals standing on all fours. Think about it. The surface area exposed to the sun, when you are on all fours: back, shoulders, neck, head.

The surface area standing upright: shoulders, head. A much smaller surface area is exposed to the sun. Why is that important? Cooling. With a smaller surface area exposed to the rays of the sun, less hair which allowed better evaporation (cooling) through more efficient sweating. 

3. Walking upright freed the fore limbs (hands) to scavenge, signal, kill or use tools.

In the hot African sun, reduced surface area exposure, resulted in hair loss, which in turn allowed better sweating. With no hair, sweat evaporates more readily for better cooling. Hair traps sweat and takes longer to cool.

Another development was the consumption of meat, change in diet, which allowed early hominids to spend less time eating or searching for food. Gorillas spend around 12 hours each day eating. Chimpanzees spend a similar amount of time. Humans are spared the chore of spending hours eating plants with low nutritional value. Meat eating freed  humans from the need to spend hours searching and consuming foodstuff.

A further development around 500,000 years ago was the use of fire to cook meat. This was a game changer. Fire cooked meat was more digestible and further advanced evolution to the species by providing quality proteins and fats which promoted brain growth. Our large brains enabled improved cognitive awareness and allowed developments such as speech and writing.

Thanks to standing up, we threw off our coverings, ate better food, invented  communication, developed war and now rule the world. How cool is that.


No More Pain

Goodbye Grains
After much research and some experimentation, I ditched grains and most carbs last week.  This is not a knee-jerk, I have been working on this for some time.

Being one of the small percentage that has difficulty with grains, I always had problems digesting them. I would experience pain, bloating, and many of the other painful symptoms. I love bread. Love french bread. Love German rye bread. I love bread in all its various forms. Love croissants. Love dutch apple cake.

I continued to eat grains and endure the pain that would inevitably follow. The only grains I could eat with little adverse reaction was rice. Any other grain I ate punished me soon after.

I researched and read extensively on alternative diets and regimens. I decided after years of suffering in near silence to ditch grains completely. Along with most other carbs. I don't have a sweet tooth and rarely use sugar.

The problem you hit when you eliminate carbs from your diet, is it creates a BIG hole in your calorific intake. Follow me. Carbs normally constitute around 50% of our calories. Remove carbs, what else do you eat?

That's a question that requires serious consideration and addresses some issues.

Over the last 50+ years, we have been led to believe that "Fat is bad".  Unfortunately I'm not convinced that it's true.

Not all fat is bad. Fat is essential component of any diet, and for many body processes. Recent research underpins this fact. Aside from all the scaremongering that goes on in the media, such as newspapers, TV, news, we also have mis-information propagated by such respected institutions as The Mayo Clinic. They postulate that saturated fat can cause heart disease along with diabetes.

So if I live on a diet with a high saturated fat content, I'm gonna develop diabetes? Where do they get this kind of crap from?

The Inuit Indians living in the Arctic Circle have for thousands of years lived on an exclusive diet of whale blubber, seal blubber (whale fat, seal fat), fish and little or no vegetables. There is almost zero incidence of heart disease, and absolutely no incidence of diabetes, among the Inuit Indians living on their traditional diets. The Inuit's that have succumbed to the advances of civilization and switched to a western style diet, have developed heart and diabetes. (Wonder if its the food they consume that's causing it?).

So, how does that work. A diet based exclusively on saturated fat, with zero diabetes in over 100, 000 years.

The human body is a magnificent complex structure that certainly knows what it's doing, when supplied with the correct simple nutrients it requires. It survived over 4 million years of evolution without the aid of medical science and did pretty well.

If saturated fats are so bad for your heart, why does the body store energy for lean periods in the form of saturated fats? Look at the tyre wrapped round your waist. What is that? Its saturated fat. If saturated fat is so bad for the heart, vascular system, why does the body store energy in the form of saturated fat? It might as well store it as poison, if it wants to kill ya.

Is the body working surreptitiously to destroy the heart it's dependent on? I don't think so. I would suspect that modern science with its 'BIG' egos and state of denial, refuses to accept the fact that Ancel Keys, the father of the 'Fat Hypothesis' was wrong, when he offered his 7 countries study.

Talking about Ancel Keys, was his study based on the findings of 7 countries? No. It wasn't. How many countries were involved in the original study? Try 22 countries? What happened to the other 15? They didn't fit the theory, so they were removed to make it look like saturated fat was a baddie?

What kind of science is that? Is that what you call real science or psuedo science? You work it out.

To put it in an easily digestible format, there are 4 kinds of fats. Two kinds are good. Two kinds are bad:

Good Fats

Saturated Fats - These are primarily from animal sources and coconut oil

Monounsaturated Fats - These are mainly nut and fruit oils

Bad Fats

Polyunsaturated Fats - These are mainly from seed oils sources.

Trans Fats - These are deadly. Avoid at all costs.



Where You From?

People enjoy digging into their past, wanting to know who their grand-parents were. Their great-grand-parents and so on. I met people who dug a 100 or more years to trace their ancestry. They sometimes get astounded by the discoveries. Whether they're ancestors came from Holland, Germany, Poland, Slovakia or whatever.

This stuff never interested me. I found it boring and tiresome. So you're great-great-grand-dad was a baker in Denmark? And? The stuff that does interest me... is where are we really from? Ya have to go way further back. Further than human history. Let me ask you: Where do you think you came from? Who do you think your ancestors where? No, seriously.

To answer the question, first we travel back in time.

Around 4 Millions Years Ago,  An an ape climbed down from its arboreal habitat. I won't elaborate. Maybe there was pressure from other apes for the available food. Maybe a climate change caused food shortage. Whatever it was, the ape climbed down from its habitat and wandered the plains in search of food, shelter and whatever else the new vista contained.

This hominid was very special for two reasons.

First reason: It  walked upright. It was a biped. Most apes and simians walk semi-upright, but use their knuckles for support. Not this baby. This  one walked on two and only two feet. That meant a better view of the scenery. being up right meant it could see way better than other mammals. That's an advantage, when your hunting or being hunted.

I also meant less surface area being exposed to the hot African sun. This allowed the hominid to shed body hair which meant it could sweat more easily, to stay cool in the hot sun.

Another change for our ape great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, was a dietary change. No more living on fruit. No way. Now the hominid living on the savannah picked up scraps of meat left by other predators. Soon as he climbed down from the trees, he was a veggie no more. Meat entered the diet. This had two impacts on the human form. First, the brain enlarged due to a high protein intake. This was not possible on a veggie diet at protein intake was too low. Second, due to the change in the diet, which was now high nutrient, low bulk, the  alimentary tract reduced in size. It no longer had to be the size of an ape, which lives mainly on plants and shrubs, it could be closer to a canine or feline. Once meat became part of the diet, the body's intestines shrunk to accommodate.

Around 2 million years ago the first true humans branched from the ape line. They were called Homo Hablis. He used tools. Stone tools. Stones for killing and cutting animals.

Around 120,000 years ago an ice age formed(more correctly known as a glacial period). Sea levels were lower, as much of the water was locked up in ice. The area now known as the Sahara desert, that desolate plain in north Africa was a lush green forest. It may be hard to believe, but what is now desert was once a thriving dense forest. Climate change has been happening for millions of years. Don't let the scaremongers frighten ya into thinking its a recent man-made phenomena.

There is no certainty on the time of the first migration out of Africa, but best guesses say its around 120,000 years ago. A small group crossed from North East Africa to what is modern day Yemen. On their long trek, the first wave of migrants left around 120,000 years ago. They followed the coastline, probably fishing and headed up to present day India. They didn't rest there, another branch headed west and south, through the Islands the comprise Malaysia, Indonesia, and finally landing in Australia.

Some time later, the next wave believed to be around 100,000 years ago, probably under the pressure of further climate change, left Africa and followed the same route out along the Indian coast, but instead of heading south, they went  north and landed in present day Mongolia/China. At that time with sea levels lower and the frozen tundra, a frozen land bridge existed between Siberia and North America.

The frozen land bridge allowed a migration into North, Central and South America. It took around 10,000 years to colonise the American continent.

The last migratory wave out of Africa, headed north into central Europe. They reached the steppes and then headed westward.

This is not speculation, but based on scientific evidence.

Spencer Wells, a geneticist working for the Wellcome foundation in the UK, took DNA samples from peoples all over the world. He was able to map the movement by tracking the Mitochondria in samples collected.

Although we may appear different on the outside, on the inside, we share a common heritage. We are all the same colour within. We are all brothers (and sisters), like it or not.

And for those bible thumping proselytizers, the world was not created 6,000 years ago. That may be hard to swallow.


Weight Loss Secrets

How It Works

If you ever dieted, lost weight then found it piled back on weeks or months later, wondering what is going on? I'm not eating much more than before, but slowly your weight creeps back up.

Stepping on the scales each week you notice it registers a few pounds more. You punished yourself with weeks of food restriction and now much of it was in vain.

The older you get, the harder it seems to lose weight, that's a simple fact of biology. The body's processes slow down, its efficiency decreases and you don't burn fuel as fast as you did in youth.

A young body can tolerate a lot of abuse. Downing tons of ice cream, cakes, cookies, chocolate, beer, chips, crisps and more. As the body ages, (think middle age) the body is less tolerant.

There is plenty of fiction around that suggests its down to the calories-in calories-out theory which is critically wrong. I recall piling excess fat over many years due to over eating, which was equivalent of one teaspoon of butter a day for many years.

In which case cutting back on the equivalent would shed hundreds of pounds each year. Try it. Eat one less spoonful of butter a day and see how much weight you lose. Did someone say none. Its not just a case of how much you eat, but importantly what you eat.

There are many websites suggesting you follow their diet plan and achieve weight loss. This dieter lost 50 lbs in 4 years. That's 1 lb weight loss a month. I guess if your in no hurry, go for it. I easily lost 28 lbs in 2 months, once I understood how the weight-loss process worked.

The blogger even shares her secret of weight loss. Its not a secret and she's not 100% correct. Exercise will aid weight loss, but if your insulin levels are high, exercise will only make you hungry.

If you don't understand how the body works, you're fighting a losing battle. Its essential to understand the underlying processes at work in the body to lose and maintain weight loss, long term.

When dealing with weight loss, your confronted by two major issues.

1.) Hunger
2.) Cravings

At first glance, they appear to be the same, but they're not. Hunger pangs are a physical sensation. A rumbling tummy. Feeling feint, light-headed. Weakness and lacking energy.

Craving foodstuffs, is a psychological entity. The thought of eating a bowl of your favourite ice cream, cake, chocolate, or biscuits.

Reducing your intake of certain foods, allows you to lose weight almost effortlessly. After the first couple of weeks, hunger pangs disappear and your normal appetite returns, without overeating. Craving your favourite foodstuffs also diminishes and after a few weeks, almost disappear.


Lipo is greek for fat. Genesis means create or make. Quit simply it means creating fat. If the fat cannot be used, it gets stored in body tissue, till its required. The body does not waste it. This is a simple fact of existence.


Lipo is greek for fat. Lysis means break down or destroy. Quite simply it means to break down fat. If the body does not have enough energy coming in, in the form of ...
it starts to break down body fat and use if for energy


The condition where the body burns body fat, instead of the food consumed. In order to achieve this state, two pre-conditions are required.

1.) You must eat less calories than your body needs for energy each day.
2.) You must eat foods that do not stimulate insulin.


Insulin is a hormone responsible for fat storage. When insulin levels are high, the body stores fat. Period. When insulin levels are low, the body does NOT store fat, but mobilizes fat stores for use as energy. There is no way around this condition. Even if you exist on 1,000 calories a day, you will find it difficult to lose weight. Instead you will feel constant hunger, while insulin converts carbohydrates into fat and pushes it into fat stores

Excerpts from Colorado State University Physiology website. This will help explain the problem, and why you can't lose weight, no matter how much you diet:
Insulin inhibits breakdown of fat in adipose tissue by inhibiting the intracellular lipase that hydrolyzes triglycerides to release fatty acids. Insulin facilitates entry of glucose into adipocytes, and within those cells, glucose can be used to synthesize glycerol. This glycerol, along with the fatty acids delivered from the liver, are used to synthesize triglyceride within the adipocyte. By these mechanisms, insulin is involved in further accumulation of triglyceride in fat cells. 
From a whole body perspective, insulin has a fat-sparing effect. Not only does it drive most cells to preferentially oxidize carbohydrates instead of fatty acids for energy, insulin indirectly stimulates accumulation of fat in adipose tissue.
As you can see from the preceding, if you cannot maintain low insulin levels, your weight loss efforts are gonna be wasted. It's vial to lower and maintain low levels of insulin if you want successful weight loss.

Its not enough to go on a low-fat low-calorie diet, which produces hunger and minimal weight loss.

To achieve successful long term weight-loss, you must cut calories and cut carbs. This probably sounds like Atkins, but it works. Several studies have substantiated it. If you want to lose weight long term, you must cut carbs.

Why is that? Why can you not just cut calories?

The answer lies in the two excerpts take from the Colorado State University Physiology Website. When you consume carbohydrates (in the form of starches or sugars), the carbohydrates stimulate insulin secretion. Insulin secretion forces the body to stop fat release from fat cells and pushes fat into fat cells. When blood sugar levels have been reduced, you feel hungry. Low blood sugar makes you feel hungry, which initiates a feeding response, to get blood sugar levels back up to an acceptable level.

Reducing carbohydrate intake to 50g a day or less, along with calorie reduction, you will lose weight. How much you lose is down to how much punishment you are willing to endure, as you lower calories. You shouldn't go below 1,000 cals per day.

Keep protein intake to 50g or 60g a day. If your protein intake is too low, the body breaks down muscle protein to convert to glucose, to satisfy the small amount it needs to keep the brain and nervous system functioning.

Easy and successful weight loss guidelines.

Avoid sugar and sugar containing foods
Avoid sugar containing drinks
Avoid processed foods
Avoid starchy vegetables
Avoid low fat foods
Avoid carbs

Eat any meats
Eat any fish
Eat cheese
Eat eggs
Eat green vegetables

This is the basis of a ketogenic diet. Following this diet, you will lose weight. How much weight is dependent on how many calories you cut.

The secret of weight loss is based on two points.

1. Cut calories below your body's daily needs. This forces the body to switch to burning body fat. That mass gathered round your belly and your fat arse.

2. Keep carb intake at or below 50g a day. This ensures insulin levels will be kept low. Low insulin levels allow body fat to be mobilised and utilised instead of food consumed.

There are other benefits to cutting food intake. A study has shown that a ketogenic diet slows the ageing process. How good is that. Weight loss and anti-ageing. At a cost of almost zero. Cool.

Go to it.

Do it!

Good Fats. Bad Fats.

Which Fats To Eat

There are four types of fats. Two are good. Two are bad.

These are:

1. Saturated fats
2. Monounsaturated fats
3. Polyunsaturated fats
4. Trans fats

Which fats can you consume to aid health and which fats to avoid. The two fats you can readily eat without fear of punishment are saturated fats and monounsaturated fats.

Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature. Pork fat, bacon fat, beef fat, duck fat are examples of saturated fats.

Monounsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature but start to turn solid when chilled.  Olive oil is an example of a type of oil that contains monounsaturated fats.

There has been much mis-information about fats. Saturated fats have been cast as the bad guy and if you eat saturated fats, they will kill ya. This is untrue. If saturated fats were so bad for you, why would your body store energy in the form of saturated fat. The body knows what's best for it. Would it store energy in the form of saturated fat if they were so damaging. I don't think so.

Too much body fat can create health issues. Body fat is the body's method to ensure there's enough energy for the body, if no food is available. Body fat ensures the body can survive times of famine.

The Inuit living in the northern parts of Canada, eating a traditional diet, eat a high saturated fat diet. They eat seal and whale blubber along with any fish they catch. Their diet is a high saturated fat diet, yet there is almost no incidence of heart disease, cancer, diabetes or alzheimers disease. How can that be. The Inuit live almost exclusively on fat. Saturated fat. Saturated fats are not bad for you. The Inuit are living proof.

The bad fats are polyunsaturated and trans fats. Polyunsaturated fats are typically liquid at room temperature and when chilled. Polyunsaturates and trans fats are used in most factory prepared foods, such as breads, cakes, pastries, pizza, pies, biscuits, cookies, chocolate, fries, doughnuts, crackers, muffins, pies are foods high in trans fat. Avoid.

Trans fats are vegetable oils exposed to hydrogen gas which solidifies the oil and converts it to a solid, during a process called hydrogenation. This is common in margarine and shortening.

The American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee strongly advises to limit intake of trans fat to less than 1 percent of total calories. Unfortunately trans fats are hidden in many foods.

Avoid commercially fried and baked foods. They contain shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oils. Those foods very high in trans fats. Commercial shortening and deep-frying fats will continue to be made by hydrogenation, as its a cost effective fat production method.

The body needs essential fats to function. Fat consumption is required for health. Forget the fat-free propaganda, there is little proof to back it up.

Lead Nutritionist at LifeMojo.com had this to say on saturated fats:

Saturated fats are underestimated as people only emphasise the bad effects that saturated fats can have. If you include saturated fats in your diet, there are good effects. Saturated fats provide essential fatty acids which are absent in other fats. The essential fatty acids play an important role in brain functioning. It also affects bone density, especially in women.

Saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristic acid and lauric acid) play key roles in building immunity. Loss of sufficient saturated fatty acids in the white blood cells hampers their ability to recognize and destroy foreign invaders, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungus.  30 % of your fat intake should come from saturated fats.

Pass me the butter.


Back Off - I'm In Ketosis

Burn Baby Burn

f you ever fasted for a day or two or three or four or more, you'll know ketosis by experience rather than concept. If you run a marathon and not taken a sugar drink during your run, you will have experienced ketosis. In running circles this is known as "hitting the wall".

What is Ketosis?

Ketosis occurs when the stored glycogen in muscles and in the liver is depleted, along with any glucose sitting in your blood stream.

The body backup system or fuel reserve is the fatty tissue hanging off your gut or your butt. Commonly known as fat-ass or belly-tire.

A small amount of sugar in the form of glucose sits in the blood stream. This can be used up pretty quickly. The next available source of blood sugar is the liver. The liver stores glycogen to ensure blood sugar levels are maintained. Once liver glycogen (sugar store)  are exhausted, the body switches to burning body fat (fatty acids) as a fuel.

The pain normally associated with switching over from burning blood sugar to  burning body fat is colloquially known as 'hitting the wall'. One side effect of burning fatty acids, initially is bad breath (halitosis). The second side effect initially is low energy levels. (Did ya pass out when ya stood up?) All those who said yes stand up!

When the body burns fat stores for energy, instead of blood sugar it produces bad breath. The bad breath normally lasts for a week or two.

So if your on a weight-loss diet, chew gum, use a mouth wash, or a breath freshener.


Living On A Prayer

Cheap Skate
I went to the Far East last Summer and travelled throughout Japan. I planned to stay in Japan for much longer than I actually did. The cost of living there is ruinously expensive. A Starbucks coffee is around £7 / $11. The cheapest hotel rooms, shared with 2 other occupants, comes in at a costly £25 a night / $39. A small beer will set you back around £4 / $6. In a bar your looking at £6 / $9. Sounds like much fun. NOT. No wonder the Japanese are so skinny. They can't afford the rent and food. You pay the rent or eat. You can't have both. What the heck. Pay the rent and skip a few meals.

I'm not sure I can afford to live in Japan. The economy is slow. My Japanese is poor. Chances of finding a job are low. What to do? I'll go back to England and find some work. The economy cannot be as bad as it is in Japan. Wrong. How wrong can I be? Err very wrong. Anyhow, I won't have to get a work permit back in England. I can work legally without duress from the Government.

I love Japan. Its a great country. Things did not quite work out as I had hoped, and I decide to fly back to London. When I get back, I have a small amount of savings and bank on finding a job pretty quickly. Could I be more wrong?

Four months pass and no work. I apply for 10 to 20 jobs a day. Thats around 100 vacancies a week. As its via email and CV (resume for you American folk) attachment. I can easily do 100 job applications a week.

I hear back from around 3 or 4 a week. The economic slump continues. Things are worse here than I had feared. Maybe coming back was not such a great idea.

Its been many years since I did a job interview. I'm now doing around 2 job interviews a week. As with all things, I'm rusty for the first few. Not so much nervous, as unsure of what to say, in response to their probing.

After each interview, I make notes, and try to recall what they probed me on. I go online and research interviews questions.

The 50 most common questions you get at interview. I skip the last 30, and work on the first 20. I print them out and carry them around with me. I prepare answers in advance. These dudes are not gonna ambush me. I'm gonna be prepared.

I rework my CV. I sign up with the 6 top online jobsites in the UK. I'm getting around 50 vacancies a day. I'm responding to 10 or 20 daily.

Its lunchtime. Walking back from the train station my mobile (cellphone) rings. Its one of the jobs I responders. Yeah, I'm interested. I agree to a 4pm appointment. Its a first interview.

I arrive 30mins early. Not a problem. You ever been late for an appointment. Your mind is unsettled. Your heart is beating. You whole psyche is unsettled. I like early. Its easy. Stress-less.

Late is painful. Give me early any day of the month. I am given a test paper, that a 12 year old could pass. I cannot believe any job applicant can fail this.

I pass the math, english and grammar tests and wait to be interviewed by people from personnel. I  sit through a gruelling 3 hour interview session where I am systematically interviewed by 5 different people at different levels within the company, right up to board level (yeah, its not that big a company). I am told I meet the strict criteria and I'm on the team.

They will email me job description and employment details the next day and ask if I can respond immediately. ie within 1 or 2 days of receipt.  I respond same day.

A few days later I get an email with a formal job offer and details of when I can start. As its before Xmas, the next induction will be in January. Third week of January. Damn. I have to kill time over Xmas. I accept the job offer and now have to bide my time till I start work.

I'm doing little else, so I continue to apply for jobs online. I have a suspicion the job may fall through. In the mean time I apply for and attend several other job interviews. This may seem crazy. Why bother? The answer. The more job interviews you do, the better you get.

At each job interview, I learn something new. I record the questions I'm asked. I note their attitude. Their emotional thrust. What seems to be important to them. What questions they ask, the previous interviewer did not ask? Slowly, I improve. I refine my CV (Resume).

My CV is refined and refined till its now like a dolphin surging through still water. I continue to polish my CV, till it's a complete sales tool. It has one function and one function only. To get me the job interview. To get me in the door. That's why the CV exists, to get you in front of potential employers. No other purpose. With the CV finally polished, I switch attention to my covering letter. This is a back up sales tool. Providing support, but a sales tool never the less.

I go to job interviews and now I'm confident, assured, I understand the process and I understand what they want. I deliver.

I hear back from the company about the job offer I received in December. They have reviewed their  employment policy. I am without a job, agaiin.

I search the local papers and find a company in need of telesales. I go interview and land a position. The pay is poor. Really poor. Last time I earned this kinda money, I was still wearing nappies (diapers). I have no choice. The economy is flat. Jobs are scarce. Pay is low. I'm lucky to be working.

I read in one of the trash rags, that unemployment is rising and hits a 20 year high of 2.7 million. I shut my mouth and gratefully accept the job.

So here's where the blog starts.

I have no money. Just got back from touring the far east. I land a poorly paid job. What am I to do? I sit on this thing and await inspiration. It hits me. When I was on the road in Japan, I lived like a pauper. Frugal was my mantra. If I could not afford it, I didn't have it. If I was low on funds and hotel rooms were too expensive, I slept on the streets, in bus stations, train stations, parks or temple grounds. If I could save £25 for a hotel room for the night, the park bench was cosy and comfortable. Ya woke early, but hey that was okay. The birds rise early anyhow. You can hear them sing at 5am.

I would now apply the same frugal attitude till the economy had improved and I found a better job. We are mired in the worst recession since the 1930s.

So here's the deal...

For the next 12 months, I am gonna be the embodiment of frugality. I will be frugal personified. Don't know quite how I'm gonna do it, but I will. Its not such a big deal. I don't live the high life anyhow. But it will be interesting.

From here on, I will live by the cheapest means I can and document it. Along with my thoughts, feelings and justifications for doing so.

I will record as best I can .

The guiding principles will be...

To save as much money as I can.
To spend as little money as I can.
To continue to live as best as I can.
To cut back on spending, as much as I can.

I will try to buy the cheapest items where possible.
I will try to buy the lowest priced alternative where possible.
I will investigate alternatives accepted spendthrift practices.
I will seek out thrifty alternatives.
I will avoid spending money, where I can.
I will avoid luxuries, at all times.
I will try to live with the clothes I presently possess.
I will try not to buy any goods unnecessarily.

I will document it throughout the next 12 months, in the hope that it may help others, show what is possible, and see just how much we spend unnecessarily. Spending is often driven by impulse and clever marketing.

Here goes to the next 12 months of fiscal sanity, online.

Bon Voyage.


Willpower Revisited

On the question of willpower
About five years ago, I wrote a blog post on willpower. It has been suggested in the comments of that post that willpower is not necessary. You can kinda go on autopilot and you're biology will somehow take care of it. Probably something along the lines of "listen to your body and it will take care of itself." Of course this is wrong.

The "listen to your body" brigade/proponents have overlooked a rather important but salient point which I will get to.

Lets look at a few scenarios (and see how they fare)

1. A guy wants to quit smoking. He throws away his cigarettes and adamant he's gonna quit. Everything appears fine for a while. Until the desire for a cigarette hits!

2. A person wants to lose weight. Selects a diet with which they feel comfy and sets off on their weight loss odyssey. Everything seems fine for a while until the munchies hit!

3. A junkie decides he's had enough. Wants to give up heroin/crack/meth. Decides to go cold-turkey. He's fine for a few hours, until the first withdrawal symptoms kick in.

In these three examples, a person is trying to break a habit. To establish a new habit. In essence, reprogramming themselves. The individuals have to overcome desire for external stimuli.

Different scenarios.

4. A guy wants to get fit and decides to take up running. Its cold, dark, wet, miserable outside. He puts on track suit and running shoes, then heads out the door. He's running in the cold, wet, rainy night. Huffing and puffing, his breathing is shallow. His legs hurt. He's cold. He feels awful. The desire to quit and head back home, to sit in the dry and the warm hits him.

5. Guy in a gym lifting weights. At the start of his exercise routine each workout, he sets a target for himself, of the weights and reps for the session. As he works each rep, he feels muscle burn. The build-up of lactic acid causes pain. Hurts him bad. The more reps he does the more lactic acid build up translates into more pain. The pain is a signal to stop. It hurts so  bad, he feels he cannot do another lift. Thoughts run through his head. !STOP!

6. Guy get to bed late. Has an early appointment the next morning. Sets his alarm clock for a 6am call and drops into the depths of deep sleep. What seems like moments later, a shrill sound penetrates the darkness of his sleep. His eyes are burning. He's tired, too tired to climb out of bed. He reaches over to turn off the alarm. I need sleep. The desire for sleep is strong. What does he do.

In the last three examples, the individuals had to overcome conditions. Whether the conditions are cold and rain, muscle burn or lack of sleep.

In each situation, there is a strong desire to quit.

If we follow the "just listen to your body brigade",

The smoker will listen to his body and have a cigarette. The junkie will listen to his body and have a fix. The dieter will listen to his body and eat ice cream, cake and chocolate.

The runner will go home and sit in the warmth. The weight lifter will do no more reps. The sleeper will switch off the alarm clock and get forty winks, along with missing his job appointment.

In these above six examples, the only way to counter the desire in the situation at that moment is... willpower. The willpower to counter whatever negative feelings/desire you may have. It is only through willpower and determination that you overcome adverse conditions, feelings or desires.

But it takes effort. Real effort. Sometimes through gritted teeth.

These are a few situations I high-lighted. Its a non-starter to suggest that willpower is not necessary.


Emacs Tips

After using Emacs for a while and feeling comfortable with its basic operation, you'll find some default settings don't match the way you work. Not a problem. We all have preferences and that's okay. A lot of programs force you to work as they've been coded with little chance of modifying them.

Emacs is different. Emacs allows you to change any part of Emacs behaviour and tailor it to work the way you want. Emacs is such a powerful application, it's often referred to as an operating system. Well its not quite there, but I understand Emacs hackers are working on it.

I read Steve Yegge's blogpost on improving Emacs efficiency, Effective Emacs, and incorporated many of his suggestions. A big thanks to Steve Yegge. I suggest you take a look.
Changing things in Emacs can be a little daunting at first. Here's a run through of some changes and how it can help you better utilise the power of Emacs.

After working with the BASH shell in an Xterm, I got used to Ctrl-h to delete previous character. It was so ingrained, when I got to Emacs I kept launching the help screen. Emacs by default sets Ctrl-h to launch help.  I changed Ctrl-h to delete previous character. Now it works as it does in BASH. To launch help in Emacs, I re-mapped it to Ctrl-x h.

Text entry, moving and editing are probably the most common operations in Emacs. The standard set up works okay, but can be improved on.

The power of Emacs derives from using the keyboard and not the mouse. If you move your hands from the keyboard to manipulate the mouse, its less efficient, you lose time and momentum. Grabbing the mouse to move the cursor is clumsy and slow. The same applies to moving the Up/Down Left/Right arrow keys. To polish your performance and power your file edits, keep your hands on the 'Home Row' keys. Those are the keys 'A' to 'L' on a standard keyboard.

Avoid using the mouse at all costs. If your not using the mouse, how do you move around the buffer? (Emacs calls each file a buffer.)

I'll outline how to setup the changes in you dot.emacs file later in this post. I'll also post my dot.emacs file for you to cannibalise.

For example, to go to start of buffer, you can hit the 'Home' button. You move your fingers off the 'Home Row'. To go to the end of buffer, you can press 'End' button. Again your fingers stray off 'Home Row'. This is not so bad as using the mouse, but it can be improved on.

The first change you must make is to switch the caps-lock key to Ctrl key. Then using your left pinky finger you can hit Ctrl easily any time you need.

Here are some other changes I made. Some were taken from Steve Yegge's blog post.

I re-mapped some keys, to enable a faster method of moving around in Emacs:

Ctrl-x t -- Go to top of buffer

Ctrl-x e -- Go to end of buffer

Ctrl-/ -- Undo last operation

Ctrl-; -- Delete to start of line

Ctrl-x k -- Delete to end of line

Ctrl-x ; -- Delete to start of line

Ctrl-z -- redo last action

Emacs default set up, has no delete to start of line. I remapped that to Ctrl-x ;

To move to any point in the buffer, use search. This is such an under-rated feature. It is the fastest way to move around a buffer in Emacs. Even in the same line. Instead of hitting Alt-f six times to move to the sixth word, use Ctl-s and type the first few characters of the word your looking for, Emacs will highlight the each instance. Keep hitting Ctrl-s and Emacs jumps to the next instance of your search string. It is without doubt one of Emacs most powerful features. Use it!

Ctrl-s -- search forward

Ctrl-r -- search backwards.

Use it. And use it often.

A few Emacs default settings:

Forward one character: ... Ctrl-f
Back one character: .......... Ctrl-b
Forward one word: ........... Alt-f
Back one word: .................. Alt-b

Start of line: ....................... Ctrl-a
End of line: ......................... Ctrl-e

I felt Emacs lacked a word count function. You finish a doc or post and need to know how many words you output. So I included a word count in my dot.emacs init file. Its right at the end of the init file.

To use the word count function, do:

 Ctrl-c  Ctrl-c

Here's a copy of my minimal dot.emacs file.

Do your worst...

; *********************************************
; Patrick's .emacs init file
; 2009-12-18

; Tell Emacs where elisp .el files reside then load-path
; (add-to-list 'load-path "~/.elisp")
; (add-to-list 'load-path "~/pager.el")

; Get rid of startup message
(setq inhibit-startup-message t)

; Scrap initial scratch message
; (setq initial-scratch-message nil)

(when window-system
(mwheel-install) ; Enable mousewheel support
(tool-bar-mode nil) ; Get rid of the toolbar
(menu-bar-mode nil) ; Get rid of the menu bar
(scroll-bar-mode nil)) ; Get rid of the scroll bar
; (set-scroll-bar-mode 'right) ; Set scroll bar on right
; Set initial window size
(setq initial-frame-plist '(top 0 left 0 width 300 height 300))

; Enable line number in mode line
(line-number-mode 1)

; Show column number on mode line
(column-number-mode t)

; Display time on mode line

; Display 24-hour format
(setq display-time-24hr-format t)

; Disable blinking cursor
(blink-cursor-mode nil)

; Color settings to make Emacs look pretty
(set-background-color "white")
(set-foreground-color "black")
;(set-background-color "#dfdfdf")
(set-face-background 'modeline "#4377B6")
(set-face-foreground 'modeline "#FFFFFF")
(set-face-background 'region "orangered")
(set-face-background 'highlight "white")
(set-cursor-color "blue")

; Set default font to Consolas

; Disable beep. Flash on error
(setq visible-bell t)

; Highlight incremental search
(setq search-highlight t)

; Highlight fonts - M-x describe-mode font-lock-mode for info
(global-font-lock-mode t)

; Highlight Parenthesis
(show-paren-mode t)
;(setq blink-matching-paren t)

; Typed text replace highlighted
(delete-selection-mode t)

; Color selected region
(setq-default transient-mark-mode t)

; Highlight during query
(setq query-replace-highlight t)

; Scroll faster
(setq lazy-lock-defer-on-scrolling t)

; Disable scroll jump
(setq scroll-step 1)

; Make y and yes both work
(fset 'yes-or-no-p 'y-or-n-p)

; End file with a newline
(setq require-final-newline t)

; Use spaces instead of tabs
(setq-default indent-tabs-mode nil)

; Spaces instead tabs
(setq default-tab-width 4);

; M-g runs the goto-line function.
(global-set-key "\M-g" 'goto-line)

; Delete auto-save files
; (setq delete-auto-save-files t)

; Disable file backup
(setq make-backup-files nil)

; Disable file saves
;(setq auto-save-list-file-name nil)

; Ctrl-h to delete left instead of help
(keyboard-translate ?\C-h ?\C-?)

; *********************************************
; Following from Steve Yegge's blog on Emacs
; Used some ideas and suggestions
; *********************************************

; Invoke M-x without Alt Key
(global-set-key "\C-x\C-m" 'execute-extended-command)
(global-set-key "\C-c\C-m" 'execute-extended-command)

; Ctrl-w replace <-backspace backward="backward" delete="delete" for="for" p="p">; C-w normally deletes whole region now reset to C-x C-k
(global-set-key "\C-w" 'backward-kill-word)
(global-set-key "\C-x\C-k" 'kill-region)
(global-set-key "\C-c\C-k" 'kill-region)

; Alt-n & Alt-p for page scrolling
(global-set-key "\C-[p" 'down-one)
(global-set-key "\C-[n" 'up-one)

; Re-Map M-<>
(global-set-key (kbd "C-x t") 'beginning-of-buffer)

; Re-Map M-> to Ctrl-x e
(global-set-key (kbd "C-x e") 'end-of-buffer)

; Steve Yegge entries end *********************

; *********************************************
; Word Count Function ; 'count-words-buffer
; Source: Programming in Emacs Lisp tutorial
; http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs-lisp-intro/html_node/recursive_count_words.html#recursive_count_words
; Source: Tutorial Contents Page
; http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/emacs-lisp-intro/html_node/

; Final version: while
(defun count-words-region (beginning end)
"Print number of words in the region."
(interactive "r")
(message "Counting words in region ... ")

; 1. Set up appropriate conditions.
(let ((count 0))
(goto-char beginning)

; 2. Run the while loop.
(while (and (< (point) end)
(re-search-forward "\\w+\\W*" end t))
(setq count (1+ count)))

; 3. Send a message to the user.
(cond ((zerop count)
"The region does NOT have any words."))
((= 1 count)
"The region has 1 word."))
"The region has %d words." count))))))

; Count the words in the entire document
(defun count-words-buffer ()
"Count all the words in the buffer"
(count-words-region (point-min) (point-max) )

; Bind count-words-buffer to Ctrl-c Ctrl-c
(global-set-key "\C-c\C-c" 'count-words-buffer)

; End of Word Count function
; *********************************************

; End of file.

Vitamin C

Essential For Life
In 1497 Vasco De Gama was sanctioned by the King of Spain to find a sea route to India. Vasco De Gama set sail from Sestobal and after a year at sea, finally landed on Indian shores in 1498. In the same year De Gama set sail for the return sea voyage to Portugal, enduring bad weather and winds. De Gama lost two thirds of his crew to scurvy.

In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan set sail from southern Spain for a western sea passage to the Spice Islands of Indonesia. Magellan sailed via West Africa and Brazil, following the coast until he found a route through the southernmost tip of South America (modern day Chile) and Tierra del Fuego. Of the five ships that left Spain, only one made the return journey. Most were lost to disease. Magellan was killed in a land battle, but most of the sailors on the return trip died of scurvy.

Life at sea was far from idyllic. A sailor's existence was fraught with danger, difficulty, disease, sickness, ill-health. The most virulent and persistent problem for sailors from the middle ages to the eighteenth century, was scurvy.

Scurvy killed more sailors, pirates and merchant seaman, than all naval battles up to the eighteenth century. Scurvy was an unprejudiced disease. It was not just sailors, scurvy also killed passengers long sea journeys.

Scurvy is a nasty disease, causing tissue haemorrhage, bleeding gums (gingivitis), swollen joints, tooth loss, anaemia, finally resulting in death.

In 1747, a Scottish surgeon, James Lind, serving on HMS Salisbury, carried out experiments to discover the cause or cure of scurvy. One group of sailors ate the regular naval diet. A second group ate the naval diet plus citrus fruit. Lind observed the group eating citrus fruit did not develop scurvy. He concluded there was something essential in citrus that kept scurvy at bay.

After a protracted struggle with Parliament, Lind took part in the debate on scurvy and sailors health. In 1795, British sailors were supplied with citrus fruit as part of their rations. The most common citrus supplied by the Royal Navy, were limes and lime juice. british sailors were seen sucking limes and acquired the name "limeys".

Between 1928 and 1932 an American/Hungarian team identified ascorbic acid. It was not until 1933 that Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) was synthesized by a Hungarian/British effort.

Most animals don't suffer from scurvy as they synthesize vitamin C. Humans along with other primates cannot. Humans lack the necessary enzyme and must obtain vitamin C from an exogenous (external) source.

Why does nature do that? Nature is efficient. Nature strives for efficiency. Nature found Vitamin C abundantly available in the environment. Why bother making your own when its so freely available?

Vitamin C is available in plants and meats, particularly citrus fruits ( oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit).

An average size lime contains approx. 39mg/100ml of Vitamin C.
An average size lemon has approx. 50gm/100ml of Vitamin C.
An average size orange has approx. 53mg/100ml of Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is also available in organ meats such as liver.

Liver contains around 35mg/100gm of Vitamin C.

Unfortunately, cooking/heat destroy Vitamin C. Think raw to get the max. But who wants to eat raw liver?

More on thoughts on Vitamins soon.


They're Their There

Three Words. Three Meanings.
The grammar police are back in town, to show citizens the correct procedure!

You often see words the words "They're", "Their", "There", misused or mixed up.

Here's a quick run-through to clarify the different usage.

They're is a conjunction of "They" and "Are". Joined they make "They're". When you meet this word, think: "they are".

Their essentially means "their own". Possessive form of they. When you meet this word, think: "their own".

There essentially means "over there". There indicates location. When you meet this word, think "its over there".

Putting it all together, this should clarify or totally confuse:

They're over there in their car.

They're means they are.
There means over there, the place I'm pointing to.
Their means their own, or their possession.


They are (the lot of them) over there (in that place) in their own car.

Its not so hard, once you get it.


Thoughts And Distractions

Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.

walk down to the local Tesco store, its a mini mart similar to 7-11. Carries a limited range of products at inflated prices. Same products are way cheaper at the company's larger stores, but the inflated prices pay for convenience. Read local store.

I buy some produce and walk out the store and hang a left. There's an ATM/Hole-In-The-Wall cash machine. A dark haired girl is punching at the keys. Another girl is standing 2 - 3 feet behind her, waiting to use the same ATM.

As I approach, the girl at the ATM, swings round and walks away. The girl queuing walks to the ATM spins round and calls the first girl back. She points to the ATM with the cash still in the dispenser.

The first girl spins round and rushes back to the ATM and grabs the cash. The girl behind her is honest and brings to her attention she has walked away without taking her cash.

You have to ask. If you go to an ATM to get cash, what makes you walk away without the cash? Like going to a bar to get a drink. Ordering the drink. Then walking out the bar before you drink it. If you go to a store to buy apples, then subsequently walk out the store without the apples. What's gone wrong?

You've gone to get cash from the ATM, why walk away? What causes that?

Its the distracting thought syndrome. Distracting thoughts pass into your mind and pull you're attention from what you are doing. Distracting thoughts grab consciousness and momentarily take over. Those thoughts are displaced by other thoughts. You're distracted and lose sight of your original goal, which was to collect some cash.

Each moment of every day, thoughts bombard us. Distract us. Take attention away from the present moment. It results in errors, accidents, mistakes, loss, and embarrassment.

You only need to sit for a few moments, at traffic lights, on a bus or on a train, and observe how your thoughts wander off, taking your attention with them.

How do you overcome this innate intellect defect? Through concerted effort.

"Lost in thought" is a saying, that pretty much well expresses it, because you are lost. You become lost. Thoughts drag you away from where you are into "thought land". You lose track of where you are and move into "thought space". You have become momentarily detached from the physical world and the reality attached to it.

Sometimes if you are lost in thought, you may bang your head or your elbow and come back down to earth. The pain pulls your attention away from your thoughts and focuses on pain.

We, each of us, get "lost in thought" hundreds of times a day. The trick is to stay focussed and not drift off in thought. Hard as that may seem, it is possible.

I once asked a doctor friend: "What happens if your thoughts stop"
He replied: "You die."

He was wrong. But that's for another blog post.


Consumer Con

Giant supermarkets and corporates abuse their clients, mislead, and confuse them. The general public at large have no idea and march like lemmings over the edge.

I find it irksome that large supermarket chains mislead customers on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.

Most customers don't bother to read package labels. Suckers.

Recently a family member bought hummus from a large corporate chain here in the UK. The package info is misleading. It proudly declares in large bold caps: "Extra Virgin Olive Oil Hummus".

Here's the rub... Extra Virgin Olive Oil constitutes 4%. The other oil is rapeseed oil. duh!

So all the trendy housewives that shop at M&S and pay a premium for their "superior" products, end up eating crap.

Rapeseed oil is possibly the worst oil you could consume. I would think twice before putting in my engine let alone in my mouth.

This is standard corporate practice. They don't give a damn. The imperative is profit. This goes on all the time. Corporates fleece the unwary at every opportunity. Mobile phone operators never contact you to advise they have a cheaper phone plan.

Unfortunately the lower a corporate sinks, into the depths of inhuman depravity, the rest must follow in order to match the profits of their competitors.

When US corporations exported manufacturing to East Asian sweat shops, the bottom line swelled, like pot bellied pigs. As more corporations followed suit, profits surged, and as a consequence, jobs were lost in the West. Cheap labour, cut costs and boosted profits. Other manufacturers had little choice, but to follow suit.

That was the start. All other possibilities were investigated to maximize profits. That includes duping consumers into believing they are buying "Extra Virgin Olive Oil Hummus".

But that's the thin edge of the wedge.

Consumerism is about sales and profit. If the consumer stops buying, the economy stalls, lay-offs and closures soon follow. Then recession, and bankruptcy soon after.

The system sucks.

But its way better than communism!


Liverpool Renaissance

A New Beginning
Liverpool have undergone several poor seasons, under different managers. Including Rafa Benitez, Roy Hodgson, Kenny Dalglish. I had reservations about all three.

I predicted a short tenure for King Kenny, who I felt was out of his depth. Kenny Dalglish was King first time round. His second visit, was more akin to a peasant who was an imposter.

In the 20 Year period between King Kenny's first and last stints as Liverpool boss, too much has changed. I honestly felt King Kenny had not kept up with the massive changes in English football, and in particular, in the Premier League.

Throughout the season Kenny and the team looked bereft of ideas.

King Kenny's purchases:

Andy Carroll..............35,000,000
Luis Suarez................22,700,000
Stewart Downing......20,000,000
Jordan Henderson....16,000,000
Charlie Adam...............7,500,000
Sebastien Coates.........7,000,000
Jose Enrique................6,000,000


After a total expenditure of £120 million, the performance was dire. King Kenny threw big money at mediocre players. You cannot blame the Americans for a more cautious approach to player funding this year.

Brendan Rodgers was announced as new manager of liverpool on 1st June 2012. Rodgers has taken a more cautious approach to player acquisition for two reasons.

1. He has little money available
2. He's new in the position and slowly rebuilding

I welcomed Rodgers appointment as Liverpool manager. I felt he was exactly what the club needed. Many of my friends (fellow Liverpool supporters) disagreed. they wanted Rafa back. In honesty, Rafa was a spent force at Liverpool. His teams were dire. The team play was pedestrian. Results were poor. Rafa's rotation policy was incomprehensible. I was pleased when he was shown the exit.

My friends felt it was wrong to sack King Kenny. "He needed more time." It got boring the number of times I heard that feeble rant. Let's accept it. King Kenny was past his sell by date. He was no longer King.

I have watched a number of games under the tutelage and organization of Brendan Rodgers, and I have been impressed. The game play, possession, movement, countering, pressing when possession is lost, have all been wonderful to watch.

Liverpool have at times playing lovely flowing, passing football. They certainly had the measure of Man City, the Premier League  Champions. Only a senseless back pass by Martin Skrtl allowed Man City to level the game.

Against Man United, Liverpool should have had a draw. A silly mistake cost them
a red card and at least 1 point. Jonjo Shelvey, misbehaved. End-Of-Story. That cost Liverpool. Man Utd were not the better side.

Liverpool are NOT scoring goals. At least, not enough goals.

Arsenal and Swansea both thumped Liverpool. Liverpool underperformed.

In the next few games, Liverpool regrouped and played some lovely football, which they have been doing all season. It's a new system for the palyers, and it will take time for them to bed in.

Players, especially in English/Scottish/Welsh leagues, will thump the ball 'long' (upfield), if they got the chance.

This method is totally against Brendan Rodgers fooballing philosophy. Rodgers wants to play pure, possession, pressing football. Its a wonderful concept. It is the Barca style of play.

I cannot wait for the Rodgers revolusion to produce effects. Liverpool have alread started to benefit from rodgers vision and style of game play. This weekend Liverpool played Newcastle, a top-5 team. Liverpool for most of the game, totally outplayed Newcastle. Liverpool had 69% possession by end of game.

Liverpool do have short-falls. That was evident in the Newcastle game. Liverpool relied too much on Suarez. Liverpool need 2 strikers to aid Suarez. Borini is out of service for several months, with a broken foot.

That leaves... Suarez.

Liverpool need more firepower. That along with a few tweeks.