Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Go See The Parrot Movie!

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is probably playing at an artsy theater near you. You'll love it. What are you waiting for? Go see it! Now! Run!

Roger Ebert reviews it here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

SF Friday Night Skate

According to one web event guide:
At 8pm every Friday night, 300 to 500 avid skaters meet at the corner of Bryant Street and the Embarcadero in the shadow of the Bay Bridge ready to skate The City and they would love you to join them. The skating takes you to Pier 39, through Marina Green, the Stockton Street Tunnel, and Union Square before heading back to Bryant and Embarcadero by 11:30pm or so. There are stops along the way if you need to catch your breath. Event is free; helmet required.

That all turned out to be correct except for the time and the number of participants. It starts at 9pm and the number of skaters this weekend was at most a few dozen. The Midnight Rollers may have numbered 500 back in '98, but the masses have moved on to new things. Before the Skate, there was windsurfing. After, there was salsa dancing and who knows what else. Those who remain are a mixture of curious newcomers like me and the long-time die-hards like David Miles.

It's a fantastic over 10 mile ride. North along the Embarcadero, around Pier 39, through Fort Mason, along the Marina to the Palace of Fine Arts, then zig-zag back through the city, ultimately returning to Market Street by way of the Broadway Tunnel and the Stockton Street Tunnel. The Broadway tunnel has a high, narrow pedestrian walkway suitable for skating. At Stockton Street the group waits for the light to turn red then races down the tunnel before the auto traffic has time to catch up.

I had a great time and met some cool people. I'll be back!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Sweetwater Diet, part II

Seth Robert provides some follow-up on his earlier experiments, including the sugar-water diet I mentioned earlier:
Friends noticed my fructose-induced weight loss and told their friends about it, and some of those friends contacted me, asking how to do it. I told them (a) 90 ml (6 tablespoons) or less of fructose per day should be sufficient to cause substantial loss of appetite and weight loss; (b) that the amount of water in which the fructose was mixed did not matter, but that it must be unflavored; and (c) the fructose water should be drunk between meals. To lose weight they would have to consume fewer calories than usual, I said, but the fructose water should make it possible to do so without unpleasant hunger. Three of them tried it and kept records[...] The fructose water, they found, made it much easier to eat less and lose weight.
My immediate results have been consistent with his - hunger was greatly reduced from day 1. I'm going to stick with his precise plan at first to verify that it works over time. But I don't find his explanation of why it works all that convincing.

Seth believes the important thing is that the sugar-water has no strong taste. That providing calories without taste (other than very mild sweetness) weakens a mental connection between taste and calories to the point that the body stops desiring the taste of food. My alternative theory is that the important thing is that the sugar-water has a very low - but positive! - calorie density, in a form that is slow to digest. This provides the body with just enough real calories - and enough volume/taste/swallowing experience - to give you a sense of "I've been eating" without providing any excess calories beyond that. Perhaps drinking a mild sugar solution for two hours is equivalent to eating lunch for two hours as far as relieving your hunger sense is concerned, even when it only adds up to the calorie content of a single can of soda.

If my theory is correct, it should be possible to make a /tasty/ weight-loss drink that served the same end as Seth's exceedingly bland fructose-water solutions. To create it, one might start by analyzing the characteristics of the European sodas that prompted the initial experiment.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Sweetwater Diet

Alex Tabarrok of MarginalRevolution writes:
Seth Roberts is a psychologist at Berkeley who for the past twelve years has obsessively kept data on himself in an effort to generate and test new ideas. In a recent paper in Behavioral and Brain Sciences he explains some of his methods and findings...

Roberts, for example, drank 5 liters (!) of water every day for 4 months to test a theory of weight loss (he lost weight but he couldn't keep up the drinking!). He also began standing for more than 8 hours a day, initially to test the affect on weight loss but instead he found that standing, especially 10 hours or more a day, dramatically improved his sleep. Eventually, he did find a novel form of weight loss involving fructose water (read the paper). Some of his findings seem bizarre, such as watching faces on tv in the morning improved his mood the next day but lowered it that night.

I've often performed similar self-experiments but my data collecting has been much less rigorous. Many years prior to my recent provigil experiments, I tried switching to a 20-minutes-every-4-hours sleep schedule. Which worked, but was too difficult to maintain and not really compatible with a normal workday.

Seth's weight loss results are interesting enough that I'm going to try it. I've lost weight in the past with the Hacker's Diet and a lot of Dance Dance Revolution, but there's no getting around it - eating little enough to lose weight or maintain weight loss makes me hungry. Hunger is an annoyance, a distraction, and tends to lead me to gain the weight back. So I'm going to see if fructose water controls hunger in me to the degree it does in Seth. Whether it works or not, we'll soon have data from an experiment of size n=2 instead of n=1.

Initial glen-weight: 177 lbs on 4/5/05.

The protocol: 15 g of Crystalline Fructose (5 "Estee" packets) dissolved in 1 liter of water, per day. Drink between meals, spread out over at least 2 hours. Other than that, eat when hungry or as it seems appropriate, but with no particular dietary restrictions.