Zipper Malfunction

YKK... Not

Bought a jacket a few months back, from Surplus Clothing at The jacket was fine. Good fit, good quality, okay style, moderate price. I bought track-suit tops and sweatshirts from the same company.

The jacket cost around £60 ($100). A sturdy jacket with good build quality, except for the main zipper. On first usage, I had an eerie feeling the zipper might fail. The zip movement was jerky, without the smooth action normally associated with a good zipper.

A few months later the zipper failed twice. Each time I'm away from home, its cold and wet. The zipper yawns open, the jacket flaps wide with wind and rain pounding my exposed t-shirt underneath. Inconvenient or what?

If you manufacture and sell a quality jacket, why spoil the product with a crummy zipper? I don't get it. Zips cost pennies to purchase. On a £50 jacket, its totally senseless to use an inferior zipper product, which may spoil the garment. If the main zipper fails on a jacket, the cost of replacement probably means you'll dump the jacket and purchase a new one, from a different manufacturer. The crummy zip has lost the company a customer. I won't buy from them again.

A zipper works by pulling the opposing sets of teeth together by a slider, to engage and hold the zipper shut. When the zipper on my jacket failed, the teeth though engaged, would separate, opening the jacket to the bad weather.

What caused that? On close inspection, I noticed the slider base had widened or opened up. I took pliers to the slider base and closed them together. That fixed the problem for a while, till the next time, the zipper yawned open.

The best zips in the world are made by YKK, a Japanese zip manufacturer. You probably have apparel with YKK zip fastners. YKK are so good, you don't think about them. You take them for granted. They just work. YKK zips are functional, robust, durable and long-lasting.

YKK stands for Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha which translates as Yoshida Manufacturing Corporation. The history of YKK is interesting. They started making zippers in 1934. After a number of years building up the business, they found some of their supplier materials used in the manufacture of their zippers were not of the quality they desired. YKK started making their own metal parts instead of buying in. Then made their own fabric. The manufacturing know-how was fed back to producing their own zip making machines. YKK took every stage of zip manufacture, in-house. They could control quality more easily, rework design, and greatly improve product quality and profitability.

As with many Japanese companies, YKK worked to improve quality and reduce costs. YKK makes dependable zips, offers an extensive range of styles and colours and delivers product to meet their customer needs.

Dependable, reliable, quality zips at an affordable price. YKK, the best zip maker in the world.

What Does 50 Grams Of Carbs Look Like?


You're on a low-carb or ketogenic diet, limiting carb intake to 50 grams a day. What does 50 grams of fruit carbs look like?

All figures approximate.

Quantity: 360 grams
Energy: 188 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 450 grams
Energy: 215 calories
Carbs: 50g


Quantity: 590 grams
Energy: 940 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 220 grams
Energy: 196 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 520 grams
Energy: 224 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 345 grams
Energy: 197 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 580 grams
Energy: 198 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 310 grams
Energy: 197 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 410 grams
Energy: 190 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 67 grams
Energy: 186 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 260 grams
Energy: 192 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 620 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 275 grams
Energy: 190 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 350 grams
Energy: 210 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 530 grams
Energy: 155 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 300 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 330 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 425 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 460 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 520 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 330 grams
Energy: 190 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 380 grams
Energy: 190 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 440 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 270 grams
Energy: 220 calories
Carbs: 50 grams

Red Currants

Quant: 350 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quant: 1,100 grams
Energy: 230 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


Quantity: 650 grams
Energy: 205 calories
Carbs: 50 grams

Quantity: 660 grams
Energy: 200 calories
Carbs: 50 grams


The Old, The Skinny And The Muscle Lost


Often wondered how come the elderly in Western societies were so skinny with little or no muscle mass. As most people age entering their 60s, 70s, 80s and sometimes 90s, they become essentially a skeleton with skin stretched across a small layer of fat. Most without exception have little or no muscle. They suffer from severe muscle wasting called sarcopenia.
My elderly relatives are prime examples. They have little strength and almost zero muscle mass. They struggle to walk any distance, carry heavy shopping, climb stairs, enter and exit the bus, and so on. Using the ubiquitous walking stick to aid locomotion. Why is it here in the west we are so weak and feeble as we age?

In Japan and China the elderly exercise, doing Tai Chi, and other martial arts to stay firm and healthy. In the West, the elderly play golf, bowls and watch TV.
To maintain health, strength and fitness, its essential for exercise to stress the musculature sufficiently to retain and maintain muscle mass. That means weight-lifting.
Weight Lifting To Counter Sarcopenia
For most people weight lifting immediately throws up images of bodybuilders with bulging biceps, inflated pecs and rippling six-pack abs. Not all weight training results in balloon like muscles.
When you climb stairs, climb out the bath tub, get out of bed, rise out of a chair or off the sofa, these are all weight lifting. The muscles used are lifting your body weight. If you weigh 150 lbs, climbing stairs, your legs lift your body-weight (150 lbs) up the next step. That's weight-lifting. Climbing out the bath tub, you use arms and legs to lift 150 lbs back to vertical. Same applies getting up from the sofa or chair. Do a push up, your arms are pushing around 80lbs.
Lifting your body weight, places muscle under a less intense load for a shorter period of time. During a weight-lifting session, you work the muscle to exhaustion.
Hard weight-lifting sessions once or twice a week, will sufficiently stress muscle to ensure the body responds by rebuilding or growing the muscle placed under load.
Regularly placing muscle under a heavy load, will ensure you maintain muscle mass into old-age and not suffer a feeble lack of strength.

Ageing And Diet

Elders in hunter / gatherer tribes don't experience muscle wasting to the same degree as the West. They continue to hunt, stalk and kill game and consume a high fat and protein diet. In the West we eat too many carbohydrates and not enough protein. A high carb diet is fine if you're running, swimming or cycling miles each day. You can burn off all that sugar. If you lead a sedentary lifestyle, as most people do, your body cannot utilize the sugar you're consuming.
Our protein intake is way too low for most people, and particularly the elderly.
To repair and maintain muscle mass, the body needs around 1 gram of protein for each 1 lb of lean body weight.
I asked an elderly relative to recount for me the food she eats in a day. She is in her late 70s. I was shocked at how little protein she consumed. It went something like this:

1 banana

1 bowl porridge with milk

1 tea with milk


1 toasted cheese or ham sandwich

1 apple

1 small low-fat yogurt

1 tea with milk


1 pasta with cheese

1 small bowl grapes or strawberries

1 small cake or chocolate bar

1 tea with milk


1 small chocolate

1 glass water
I calculated she consumed around 25 grams of protein daily, which is 1/3 of what her body needs for maintenance. She eats little meat, eggs or fish. The only exercise she gets is walking to the bus stop or the local shops.
She is thin and frail with little muscle and no strength.

Happy TV Adverts


Watching TV is a rare event for me, but I recently noticed how happy people appear to be in TV adverts. Ya know the type, McDonalds Happy Meal, KFC Happy Family Meal, Pizza Hut Happy Family Gorge, Coca Cola makes everyone Happy, Pepsi Happy Dudes.
Enough food, lets talk cars. Happy, smiling, driving cool cars through empty town streets, empty winding road, green traffic-free countryside. Even sassy young chicks driving through building sites to by-pass traffic hold-ups, smiling, gleeful, happy.

Adverts are wonderful. Always wonderful. Showing the truly joyful wonderful side of the world available to us, if we would only purchase their product. Buy McDonalds or KFC and you too can have a wonderful happy family. Its easy. The corporations are successful selling this message of happiness, and making billions in profits each year.
Why do so many respond to the call for happiness?
Life and the world is torn into the pairs of opposites. There is dark and light. Hot and cold. Tall and short. Fast and slow. Good and bad. Right and wrong. Left and right. Up and down. Rich and poor. Happy and sad. Wet and dry. Hard and soft. Sun and moon. Life and death. North and South. Yin and Yang. You could carry all day. The list is endless.
Nature strives for balance, equilibrium, homeostasis. If there is excess in one part, Nature moves to the opposite to provide balance. Being a part of Nature, humans operate under the same law, mostly unconscious of it. If you're hot, you take a cold drink to cool ya down. When you're hungry, you eat. When you're cold, you put on a sweater or a coat.
Understanding the pairs of opposites, you can see how happy TV marketing works.
How does the Happy TV Ad Marketing fit into this?
Most people are generally unhappy in life. Yeah its true. Most people ARE unhappy and discontent, dissatisfied. Look at your co-workers. How many are smiling, joyful, ebullient?
Do you wake every morning full of beans, ready to take on another day?
Human beings are driven by primitive impulses, two of which are food and water. Why?
Without water, you die in a few days. Without food, you can survive for weeks or months dependent on body fat. The body's impulse to eat and drink is very powerful, and often the cause of over-eating and obesity. The corporations understand this and utilize it to their profit.
McDonalds, BurgerKing, Dominos, Pizza-Hut, KFC, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and many other corporations manipulate this human response to their advantage.
The advertising is two fold:
1. Happiness
If people are generally unhappy, offer them happiness. The opportunity to enjoy and experience happiness is a powerful stimulus.
2. Nourishment
The body's desire for nutrients is a powerful imperative.
Advertising utilize both elements to manipulate individuals to buy product in their desire to "be happy" and to satiate their "need to feed".
The corporations only want your hard earned dollars/pounds/euros. Once you have been fleeced, you hold little interest, aside from a return visit to purchase more.
The only happy people, aside from those shown in the ads, are the share holders and profit makers.

Hominid Brain Space

I Want More

6 million years ago
Human ancestor cos it walked upright like us
Small brain and projecting nose
Brain size approx 450cc

2.3 million years ago
Homo Hablis. Handy man
Used stone tools
Larger brain and small projection of nose
Brain size approx 600cc

1.8 million years ago
Homo Erectus
Our true human ancestor. First human-like characteristics
Big brain. Game hunter
Brain size approx 900cc

Homo Sapiens
Bigger brain. Hunts everything
Brain size approx 1400cc

Our brains compose around 2% of our body weight but use around 25% of energy consumed. The brain mostly runs on glucose. Our muscles can burn glucose (blood sugar) or fat for fuel. Brains cannot, as fat particles are too big to cross the blood brain barrier. How come? For the answer we need to look to the past.
For millions of years, our distant ancestors, think arboreal apes, consumed fruits, leaves, shoots, which provide sugar for the brain. Our brains thrived on glucose sugar fuel. As our species evolved, they climbed down from the trees, moved away from fruits, leaves, shoots as the mainstay of their diet and began scavenging and hunting on the savannah, for meat and fats.
Watching the video "Did Cooking Make Make Us Human" on YouTube at 52:30 into the video, Dr Susan Francis runs a test measuring the response of the human brain to the consumption of fat. With 5% fat consumption, there's a small response. With 10% fat consumption, an increased response. At 30% fat consumption, brain centers leap to respond.
Followed by the tut-tuts of: "You know that's not allowed. You know how bad fats are for you. They clog the arteries and cause heart disease". Err what? I thought we had passed that pseudo-science nonsense some time ago. Are we still stuck there with this outmoded view? I need to pick this up in a future blog-post.
Our ancestors survived by switching to a fat and meat diet. There were no vegi take-outs, vegi restaurants or smoothie bars. Fruit trees only bear fruit for a short time once a year. What did our vegi-ancestors eat the other 10 months of the year? Wheat, maize, rice and other grain crops were discovered around 10,000 years ago, so they came 5,990,000 years too late to maintain our vegetarian diet. Guess that only leaves one option: a meat/fat diet.
Our ancestors were meat eaters, including animal fats. They were scavengers or hunters, much like many modern-day indigenous hunter / gatherer tribes, such as the San of Botswana, the Kombai of Papua New Guinea, tribes living in the Amazon rain forest or the Inuit living in North West Canada. These tribes live by killing animals and consuming their fat and flesh.
But the tut-tuts of Dr Susan Francis are misplaced. Sure fat consumption lights up the pleasure centers of the brain, cos fat consumption is desirable. You cannot survive without fat in your diet.
The annoying part of the experiment, was they did not measure the sugar response on the human brain. I'm not a gambling man, but I'll wager the brain lights up like an Xmas tree when high levels of sugar or carbohydrates are consumed.
More to come.

Inline Skates - Newbie

You're Gonna Fall

Been skating for three weeks now and I have tumbled a lot. I hurt my rib cage, hurt my wrists, hurt my thigh-muscle, hurt my finger, hurt my elbow and hurt my ass. What else is new?

If you're new to skating, spare yourself the agony and get a protective pad set, before your first fall. Knees, elbows and wrists are most vulnerable. After a hard landing, a broken wrist is no fun. Invest in head protection too, even if its only an el-cheapo helmet.

You may look and feel a little stupid with all that protective gear on, but you'll tumble with confidence and a fair degree of safety. You can't guarantee 100% safe, as inline skating is a mildly dangerous activity. It doesn't rank up there with sky-diving, shark-wrestling, high-wire walking, or jumping the grand canyon on motorcycle, but you will accumulate bumps and bruises.

Purchase medium to good quality protective gear and spend less time in A&E. Even when you're fully kitted out with all the protection you can muster, you'll still hurt yourself.

I pulled a leg muscle 10 days ago, limped to work, and have not been able to get on those wheels since. A few more days, I'll be fixed again and venture out to the nearest park.

Before the leg injury, I was practicing cross-overs. Large circles, one foot crossing over the other to provide the turn. Switching sides and moving in the opposite direction, and working the opposite cross-over foot. The drill helps with balance and builds confidence. I ran over a large fallen twig and kissed the tarmac, pulling a leg muscle when I fell.

I'm itching to get back on those wheels again.

I've got the skating bug.

Inline Skates

Total Newbie

I bought a pair of inline skates last week as I felt the need for additional exercise aside from the weekly weights session at the gym. I bought a pair of K2 FIT 84 from Slick Willies in Kensington.

These are my first pair of skates, and it was a substantial outlay for a beginner. I could have purchased some el-cheapo skates for £50 with which to learn. I mulled it over and decided I was pretty serious about skating and decided against wasting £50 just to learn. These are fast skates, the bearings are free-rolling and move so damn fast.

As a complete beginner you have balance problems, which is obvious to an observer. What is not obvious, is the need for muscle strength in your lower legs and particularly in your foot muscles. Upper arch muscles get worked hard. When skating, you start using foot muscles you have little used before, to remain vertical. You're standing on a single narrow strip of wheels instead of your flat foot base. You feel those foot muscles working. After 20 or 30 mins skating, my foot muscles fatigue and staying upright becomes a challenge.

If you ride a bicycle, you'll understand. The bike falls without forward momentum. Same applies to skating. You need forward momentum for balance, to overcome the gravitational pull, though ya can remain stationary locking your skates into a 'T'.

Moving forward can be okay, but stopping is a big problem. Most beginner boots come with a heel brake. I don't use it. I concentrate on and practice the 'T' brake. Pulling the right foot behind the left foot and dragging wheels to act as a brake and slow ya down. I relentlessly practice braking. If there is one thing more important than going, its stopping.

After one week, I can feel foot strength developing. Still not good enough, but some progress. I can stay upright without support for 20 or 30 mins, then my foot muscles flake out and I start to wobble. I need to stop or I'll tumble. Foot muscle fatigue has set in.

If you're a newbie you can practice raising and lowering on one foot, without skates. That will help a little, but not 100%. When you raise and lower your foot without skate, you're using a wide flat surface area for support. When you're on the skate, its a thin line of 1/4 inch wheel blades. Balancing on skate blades is somewhat more challenging.

Every morning I skate in the living room, back and forth to strengthen foot and leg muscles and slowly "get" my balance. It seems to be working. I'm not 100%, but its way ahead of the first day when I kissed the deck half-a-dozen times or more.

As your overworked foot muscles tire, you lose balance, cannot maintain good posture, and eventually fall. Be patient. Give your body the time it needs to strengthen those foot and lower leg muscles. It takes around a week for a muscle worked to exhaustion to fully recover.

See how you are in a week. You will improve.

Thrifty Transport

Cheap Get To

The inline skate idea was another effort on the path to total thrift.

I calculated I spend around £2,000 a year on transport (bus and train) to get to and from work, which is only a few miles from home. I checked the possibility of doing the walk on foot. Its too far and would take over an hour. An hours walk at the end of a 12 hour day? I don't think so.

I got thinking about other modes of transport. Bicycle? No. Not me. Skateboard? No. Not me. Skates? Yes.

The more I thought about it, the more sense it made. A pair of quality inline skates cost £150. I get additional daily exercise, its fun, and I get to keep £1,850.

I probably won't get to keep the full £1,850, as I'll need to buy new bearings, wheels, safety equipment, (wrist, knee, elbow guards and helmet), and maybe additional clothing for skating in the cold or wet. I reckon £300 will cover it. The balance of £1,700 will go into my savings account.

Who needs a car, bicycle or London Transport, when you have skates?

Hamlet's Soliloquy

I Love Bill

To be, or not to be--that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.

To die, to sleep--no more--and by a sleep to say we end the heartache, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished.

To die, to sleep--to sleep--perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause.

There's the respect that makes calamity of so long life. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely the pangs of despised love, the law's delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of th' unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin?

Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscovered country, from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will, and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of?

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprise of great pitch and moment

With this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action. -- Soft you now, the fair Ophelia! -- Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered.

Experience Or Enthusiasm?

Done That

Some years back I was in charge overseeing the work of others. The job entailed hiring new recruits and firing old ones. Working recruitment you come to realize the young or new to the job are filled with enthusiasm. Lots of drive, energy, desire, go-do-it attitude.
You see lots of newcomers out of college or uni, with plenty of academic qualifications, but little or no experience. It becomes apparent that all the enthusiasm, all the qualifications, pale by comparison against someone with years of on-the-job, hands-on experience.
For sometime I held the view that given the choice between enthusiasm or experience, I would choose experience. An example, if you had to undergo heart-surgery, would you choose:
  • surgeon fresh out of med-school doing his first procedure
  • wizened done-it-all with 20 years surgical experience
You board a flight heading to another continent. Would you prefer:
  • pilot in his 1st day in the job
  • pilot in his 10th year in the job
Unless you have some kind of unexplored death wish, its a no-brainer. In these instances, you would go with the guy with years of experience under his belt. Better to let the newbie practice and make his mistakes on someone else.
"Experience is the name men give to their mistakes"
-- Oscar Wilde
For some time I held the view that experience was somehow superior to enthusiasm, which it is in many ways. As with so many things in life, nothing is every 100% black or white, there are grey areas between.
In a later job, I began work in a new field, though with some transferable skills from previous work, but I was not fully experienced. There was still a steep learning curve. Some people in the company had worked there years, and thoroughly experienced. I came in with limited experience, but with tons of enthusiasm. Its strange how life holds a mirror up to us at times.
"Experience is something you get after you need it"
-- Unknown
I made a few errors as I learned the ropes and got a handle on the new job. I moved from being a novice, but still nowhere near the experience of my co-workers. I noticed still had tons of enthusiasm, which they lacked. It dawned on me how both were essential in any discipline, whether its work, sport, play.
Its evident in professional sport where, older sportsmen lose their hunger, their desire to win and go through the motions, while still raking in big bucks.
When you lose pride in your work, you have lost your enthusiasm. When you lose enthusiasm, you've lost the fire in your belly, lost your hunger.
People remark: "I have no appetite for it any more".
They mean: "I have lost my enthusiasm, my drive".
Ideally the pairing you want is:

The experience of an old-hand, the enthusiasm of a newbie.