Sunday, March 31, 2013

Trader Joe's Blended Scotch Whisky -- 190 lbs (-39) [10X]

I have been a big fan of Trader Joe's ever since I figured out the difference between it and Trader Vic's (which I am also a fan of). Thanks to Washington State privatizing liquor sales last year, I can purchase Trader Joe's branded whisky, which fits nicely into my budget. After my recent forays into bottom-shelf whisky, I am a bit surprised at how good this is. Trader Joe's Blended Scotch Whisky tastes similar to Johnnie Walker Red, and Red's more economical competitor, Monarch of the Glen. It is bottled by Alexander Murray & Co, the same export/import company that supplies some of Costco's branded whisky (which I have yet to try). Measuring Trader Joe's whisky without spilling was a bit challenging and gave me a chance to try my last unutilized Xmas gift--a no-spill bottle pourer that works like a charm.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Can Drive 55 -- 185 lbs (-44) [25X]

While Sammy Hagar can't drive 55, I can and do-- .055 BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) that is. In 1982, Roger Volger and Wayne Bartz published one of the first low-dose alcohol programs in a now out-of-print book called "The Better Way To Drink".

Their primary guidance was to "savor the good effects as your blood alcohol is rising up to a maximum of 55 and then quit drinking", as costs and risks begin to outweigh benefits above .055 BAC:

● The good feelings produced by alcohol decrease above a BA of 55 for most drinkers
● Impairment of physical functioning such as coordination accelerates above 55, along with the risk of all sorts of accidents
● The negative effects on physical health are considered greater above that level
● Emotional control becomes more unpredictable above 55
● Stress relief ends above 55 for most drinkers, and more alcohol tends to increase anxiety rather than to reduce it
● Hangovers occur mainly at BAs over 55, with their attendant negative effects on job performance, family, etc.

My personal experience is totally in line with these findings, though I tend to stay below .030. How can I drink so much and maintain a low BAC? By creating several "alcohol waves" throughout the day. An alcohol wave is created by drinking 2-6 oz of whisky (of equivalent other alcohol) over a period of 1-3 hours, and then stopping for at least a couple of hours before starting the next wave. I theorize that this provides the maximum health benefits of alcohol, without the risks associated with higher BAC. And any benefits are probably amplified by the reduced BMI that comes from substituting alcohol for bad carbohydrates.

As far as driving at 55 BAC is concerned, it's nothing to get your knickers in a twist about, despite what many folks would like you think. The majority of driving fatalities don't involve any alcohol, and the majority of alcohol-related ones occur at a BAC of .15 (aka 150) or higher. The legal limit of .08 is there for a reason-- respect it.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bankers Club -- 189 lbs (-40) [16X]

This was my bottom-shelf exploration for the month. It tastes pretty much like Clan MacGregor, maybe slightly less sweet and "refined", but same price, same bottle, same shelf. Like most whiskies in this category, there is very little information on the Internet, which makes me even more curious:

What is the demographic? Bankers?

There aren't that many scotch drinkers to begin with, and few of those will admit they drink Bankers Club; I doubt bars would sell it, and yet it still must sell reasonably well. The only clue I could find was a quote on Urban Dictionary, of all places:

Hey, are you going to the party at Alpha Beta tonight?
Nah man, went to one last week and the whole thing was a sausagefest and all they had was natty light and bankers club.
Low class college parties?

The Bankers Club dictionary entry has 2 opposing definitions that are about what I'd expect:

1. The makers of the best and cheapest [whisky] ever known to man
2. A cheap, poor quality brand of [whisky], not something that is meant to be ingested

My own experience boils down to this: I've found that throwing any whisky towards the back of the tongue tastes sweet no matter what the whisky. In that part of my mouth, the lowest quality whisky and the highest quality whisky really don't taste much different, so I might as well save the money when I need to ... as long as I don't let it touch any other part of my mouth.

Introverted, non-discerning scotch addicts on a tight budget?

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

God Made Me Buy A Donut -- 186 lbs (-43) [26X]

It had been sunny all yesterday morning, but, as soon as I went for a walk, it got cold and miserably windy. Half way through my route, it started raining like crazy, so I ran into the closest building, where they happen to sell awesome apple fritters. I've been trying to eat low-carb (not counting alcohol, of course) for over a week now, but the past few days haven’t gone so well: on Sunday, I ate Irish soda bread; on Monday, MOD pizza; and on Tuesday, a whole bag of popcorn. I was psyched up for an all low-carb day yesterday, until Mother Nature chased me into that donut-wielding shop, and I can't resist a crispy, dark apple fritter when it is staring me right in the face. And this was no ordinary donut, either. As soon as I bought it, the rain stopped and the sun came back out shortly afterwards.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Cleaning My Pipes -- 184 lbs (-45) [17X]

The ones that circulate blood, that is. In the right doses, drinking alcohol can drastically reduce risk of high blood pressure, clogged arteries, blood clots, upper body pain, artery disease, strokes, and heart attacks--up to 60% versus abstaining found in many studies. And given that cardiovascular problems account for about a third of all deaths, the increased odds of living longer with alcohol therapy are staggering. To put it into perspective, using United States data from the Center for Disease Control, 10,389,928 people out of 29,176,040 deaths died from circulatory issues over a 10+ year period, versus a much smaller 262,589 deaths attributed to all alcohol-related causes. That translates to roughly 1 alcohol abuse death for 20 lives potentially saved with metered alcohol use. Drink for thought indeed.

A good consolidated of many of these studies is in Gene Ford's ground-breaking book, The Science of Healthy Drinking, which he dedicates the first 7 out of 33 chapters to. I highly encourage you read it, whether you drink or not, to have a more balanced view of alcohol use than "The Man" would have you believe.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pipers Clan -- 188 lbs (-41) [22X]

Slightly bored of my standard scotch rotation, I ventured out and got a couple of low-end, unrated brands that fit in my budget. The first of these is Pipers Clan, which is priced and bottled the same as Old Crofter, but tastes decidedly better (IMO). Old Crofter tastes bitter if I let it touch the tip of my tongue, whereas Pipers Clan is smooth everywhere. My only complaint is the bottle doesn't have a plastic insert to reduce flow rate and dripping. Pipers Clan is good enough to motive me to buy a 1.75 liter bottle pourer, even though they are a bit pricy and hard to find compared to 750 ml ones.

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rationalization Creep -- 187 lbs (-42) [22X]

Somehow the phrase "Rationalization Creep" makes me think of a zombie that eats its own brains (not that I feel that way). It also describes my current phase. With each passing week over the last several months, I seem to be rationalizing some new behavior that deters me from reaching my weight-loss goal of 49 lbs (weighing 180 lbs or less) by July 17, 2013. This trend started when I took 2 weeks off of alcohol and allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. Then I gave myself a pass in December for the holidays, which was subsequently extended to rebuild my muscles and strength due to a long-term shoulder injury. After that, I decided that seeing how much I could pig out without gaining weight was more fun than losing weight to pursue my original goal. And finally, I decided to suspend the whole thing, believing I could lose the last 5-10 lbs starting a few weeks before July 17.

The amazing thing is, all of these rationalized behaviors have not adding any average weight gain, which provides no incentive whatsoever to change course. Damn, I've just rationalized these rationalizations.

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Friday, March 1, 2013

How Can I Eat So Much Crap? -- 186 lbs (-43) [24X]

While watching me eat a half-bag of Lay's potato chips, my wife asked in frustration "How can you eat so much crap and not gain weight?" Then she went on to say how it almost made her want to drink alcohol, and maybe people are better off not knowing about alcohol and weight-management because some couldn't handle it safely. Well, as usual, my saintly wife is probably right. If it helps any, it is me, not alcohol, that manages my weight. And it is time between eating, not alcohol, that I loosely control to do it. Alcohol is just one tool I use to put off eating longer than I otherwise would, and it works more often than not, because its calories essentially don't count. This diet is enough proof of that, at least in my case, and maybe that is inspiring enough that some people will follow suit, and odds are a few of those will hurt themselves or others by over-doing it— that is, in the unlikely event that enough people read this and take it to heart. But risk is rarely a good reason to withhold such information. A much higher percentage of people have hurt themselves or others in the name of the Bible or other religious publication. Talking about my diet won't do more damage than that, and I think it has the potential to help people who have tried every other known solution to control their weight without success.

So anyhow, the reason I can eat a bag of potato chips without exercising is because I'm going to spend the next 16+ hours fasting, with low-dose alcohol (and other tools) to help get me through that. It probably isn’t for everyone, but it's at least for me. Please handle this information with care.

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