Midnight Jolt Run

Caffeine tastes better when the city's asleep

Fiss Chow Alpha – Day 1

Posted by Fiss on June 10, 2014

work.6847455.1.sticker,375x360.contents-unprocessed-soylent-green-sticker-v1One of the hardest face-slaps I received in the year of 2013 was realizing just how far I had let my health deteriorate from nearly half a decade of graveyard shifts.  This and the exponentially hard eating and exercise habits gleaned from such a lifestyle that had been drilled into my soul like a strange reverse boot-camp.

Before I had spawned a youngling I spent eight or so months on a low-carb, low-cal, low-everything diet and had actually succeeded in trimming down, improving my health and feeling better about my ghostly meat-skeleton arrangement.  It didn’t last, as I said I did gain back a lot of weight, but it took more than five years, a stressful handful of management changes, making a baby and continuing to pretend to be a responsible adult to make it finally happen.  Even so, the ease of weight loss I experienced gave me a perpetually false sense of security; that I could re-drop the weight and feel better nearly whenever I wanted if I just put my mind to it.

Yeah.  Right.  I seem to recall writing only one thing was ever easy, and it sure ain’t living.

When my day-job (or night-job, depending on how you want to label it) finally started making sense again and shed the outer layer of needless stress that was a commute, I thought to myself that now would be the time to finally get back in gear – but the ongoing schedule-chewing role of being a family man who needed to sneak sleep wherever I could find it seemed to grind a lot of those habits into the creases of my being.  Despite all my on-the-fly cooking ability and skill at managing vitamins and supplements, all it took was one bad day to trip up the attempt – an hour less sleep than I was normally getting, or a temper-tantrum from the kiddo, or maybe just feeling like shit trying to get back into a low-carb state of ketosis – and suddenly the stunning availability of fast food, liquor and delivery in this city was all too happy to rescue me from my blues.  Did I bitch about it?  Not really.  Did I blame McDonalds and Jack Daniels for my failures?  Nope.  Hell nope.  It’s my own damn fault and owning up to it was the least I could do as I tried to plan a comeback.

Here’s the thing: I never blamed anyone else for my health.  How could I?  I knew how easy it was to take control and that I could do it again.  A few times in those 5-6 years before now I actually managed some pretty stellar half-assed attempts, too.  I never will blame Butter Chicken, Jack Daniels or Jolt Cola for assaulting my body…not unless those dark rituals I performed long ago indeed created a sentient Jolt Elemental and it attacked me for-

Okay, never mind.

The point is that I get it.  I know it’s up to me to maintain this little mortal shell for a while so maybe I can see some really rad science stuff, and maybe my great-grandkids, and maybe not have to spend the last decade of my life as a vegetable with delusions of sentience and mobility.  There are so many excuses that the /fit/ crowd of armchair-internet personal trainers like to point and laugh at – all the morbidly obese people who say ‘genetics’ or whatever popular pseudosciencey reason for them not getting off their ass and eating better/exercising is keeping them down.  Disability my ass.  Unless you have a doctor-verified condition affecting your metabolism all you’re doing is fucking yourself.   Even if it doesn’t give the ‘fat shaming’ crowd moral high ground to be the obnoxious bullies they so often are, excuses for being fat are still few and far between in the land of actual legitimacy.

But maybe I should have listened to some of the excuses a little more closely instead of just powering through on blind confidence that I could just switch gears and drop a Stone a month like I did before letting the Night Owl thing become a job requirement.  The biggest excuses of eating right and working out are the classics:  Time and money.  Time goes doubly when you realize you’re out of enough chicken-breast to make your lunch and it just turned four-AM.  I’ll give you a quick spoiler:  7-11 does not stock much fresh produce.  Money:  Sure, you can buy a spare freezer and load up with choice cuts and frozen veggies and – oh well, I thought I had enough to cover Mortgage this month.  What happened?

So, I lumbered toward the idea that yeah…I would eventually have to get my shit together, and it was going to be a lot more awful this time around.  Maybe a little more freedom since I had learned a great deal of nutrition and general human physiology in the last ten years, but I would still have to grind myself down on the slow-moving whetstone of getter-done.

In comes Charlton Heston.

More specifically, a little Youtube channel I subscribe to called Vice.  Vice is what would have happened if you cloned Hunter S Thompson so there was a whole team of him, gave him all his meds, and showed him how to use modern portable A/V equipment and Youtube.   Unbiased it is not, but goddamn is it interesting, entertaining and refreshing proof that guerilla journalism and editorial pieces are valuable in this day in age.

One of their articles caught my eye between candid visits to North Korea and a shockumentary about the Alberta Oilsands.  Soylent.  Specifically, there was a company in the US trying to sell a low-cost high-nutrition food…thing…called Soylent.  For under two dollars a meal, you mix up a smoothie and suck back enough go-juice to keep your meaty / boney parts meaty and boney.   While the reporter only tried it for a month he stayed more-or-less healthy.  The biggest downsides were the generic oatmeal-taste, the semi-beta glitches with production (rat shit in the factory!), and the fact he became severely depressed due to the lowered social interaction over food with his friends.  Well, since I have shit-all for human interaction during my meals anyway, I decided to look a bit more into it.  Oh…and like many wonderful things on the internet there was a thriving, open-source, do-it-yourself hacking community.

And arguably, they were doing it better.

There were formulas for the dirt-cheap (a dollar a meal?  Jesus…) and the Official Clones that tried to mirror the trademarked product as best they could.  There were muscle-gainers and cardio-cruisers.  Candy-tasting and caffeinated fizzy ones.  There were also weight loss combinations and keto-friendly mixes, something that facilitated my success a score of years ago.

Any time they say ‘low carb’ in a diet, you’re pretty much looking at a process called Ketosis.  Your brain gets pissed off that you don’t have any carbs and sugar handy for day-to-day operation, so it tells the liver to get off its ass and manufacture fat-dissolving cyclones of…well…organic nail-polish remover.  It’s safe…so long as your kidneys and liver are in proper working order and you remember to drink water.  Indeed, such a diet is often used to treat diabetes, epilepsy, and – not surprisingly enough – obesity.  It’s the process that keeps your body humming away happily during sleepy time despite the lack of you stuffing your face – though doing it as a full time diet obviously takes a bit more work than just passing out.

So I figured: what the hell.

After nearly two months of hunting down ingredients (ahh, the joys of living outside of Amazon.com’s shipping sphere) I finally settled on a highly rated, well reputed, excellent feedback-ed base recipe that I could duplicate in the metric lands of the North.  Tweaked, of course, to my own scientifically calculated BMI, Keto-rates, lifestyle and all that jazz.

Fiss Chow Alpha tastes a lot like liquid banana bread.

By far the best thing, though, is that the number of additional pills, vitamins, supplements and chemical-warehouse-slideshow grit I need to ingest is exactly Zero.  No pills.  A Godsend for someone who has to chew anything larger than a gummy bear


(Multivitamins taste like chalk from the underside of a troll’s ball-sack, just an FYI)

Total cost per day?  Less than seven bucks.  Kitchen real-estate used?  Half-a-shelf of dry ingredients and oils will give me around three months of meals.  That and a magic-bullet blender.  Not too shabby.

Will I still like it in three months?  Chances are I’ll turn down free banana bread after all is said and done, but then again, I can always modify the recipe and turn it into a peanut-butter-cup at no additional cost.

So there ya go.  This is one of the things I’ve been working on, trying to figure out how to manage the joys of the Graveyard Shift without the Graveyard, and still be healthy, awake, and sane enough to enjoy a little daylight now and again.  Expect an update once in a while.  Hopefully, it will all be good news.  If not then at least I’m learning.

Learning.  And boy, do we have a lot to learn.  And a lot to experiment with.  A lot of questions to ask ourselves as we navigate the next few years of consumer-whoring at the grocery store and then being inspired by the latest Gordon Ramsay or Anthony Bourdain episode.

We all love our favourite foods, but I think we know that sometimes in the near future there are going to start being changes to what is available to everyone at a consumer level cost.  We already see the rise and fall of household budgets based on meat prices and dairy, and voting with your dollars to support whatever ethical, social or economic choices you want to see expand is nearly useless with the amount of incest between brand names and manufacturing empires.

Not everyone can go all local, all organic, all hippy, either – certainly not overnight.  Local on its own is a very subjective term.  What about the next great drought or flood?  Poisoned crops or toxic rungs on the food ladder finally forcing mass scale change?  What happens when all the foods we love to eat have to start coming entirely from greenhouses and controlled environments thanks to climate change – radical and human-made or slow and natural?   There will always be, in my mind, a wealthy market for the real good stuff, but how much science fiction is fiction when we start to see a dystopian rift opening up in the grocery aisles?  Powdered milk for a dollar, and 2% for thirty?  Wait until you start seeing the GMO VS Natural debate become as prevalent as animals on Blade Runner.  Do you want your BLT with cloned, recycled, soy, alt-meat or natural bacon?

In the last few years I’ve rediscovered my love for cooking, and cooking well and part of me kind of wants to preserve it as something special instead of just a daily chore I have to muck through.  I’d like to think with a bit of practice I could be pretty dangerous in a kitchen and make a lot of smiles.  Maybe the biggest argument for this shift to a Soylent mashup has been recognizing that most of my meals are…well…terrible!  Can I take pride in a Happy Meal?  Do I relax in tryptophan lethargy after wolfing down bag of nacho chips and processed-cheese salsa?  Was the twenty or thirty dollars I spent on having someone else cook my steak wrong worth it?  Did I really need to slap together everything in under ten minutes and wolf it down because my break was ending?

Maybe I’ll take a day or two every month and cook the living hell out of something.  Whip up a proper spread and make the Angels of Nom weep with delight.  All the rest of the time I can make bad Heston impressions and save my money, my time and my health.  All in all, I think that’s worth an eventual revulsion to banana bread.

I may as well make my apathy, laziness and hermitism work for me instead of against me.

– Fiss

Studio Shinnyo 2014.  Khattam-Shud, EOF.
Posted under Colapost, Manifestoes

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