Protein For Carnivores

This was just an email to a friend/co-worker who’s even more obsessed with protein in his diet than I am, but I figured I’d share, for the rest of us who struggle with not being able to process protein from plant sources effectively.

So I did this yesterday, and I’m appreciating the benefits already. Consider this a minimalist recipe I just made up to suit my taste and level of (moderate, but not extreme) laziness:

  • 10 lbs extra lean ground beef
  • 1 large purple onion
  • 10-12 cloves of garlic
  • Big chunk of ginger root
  • 1 to 1 1/3 cup of soya sauce
  • ½ cup cooking sherry (optional)
  • Course ground black pepper
  • Sesame oil
  • Peanut oil

(Requires a large wok, or huge frying pan)

I bought 10 lbs of beef yesterday, at $7/lb ($CAD), so comes to about $70 plus the few bucks for the other ingredients. I only worked with half of it, and I’m breaking the other half into 1 lb packages and freezing them (for next week?)

It’s all too simple. I’ll describe the process for 5 lbs, which is what I cooked up yesterday. (So chop all the quantities above in half, and then half again for each of the two “stages” of cooking)

Mince the garlic and ginger as fine as you can, dice the onion. Leave them in piles you can eyeball.

Heat the pan, pour in a coating of peanut oil and a few drops of sesame oil.

Throw in the appropriate portion of garlic and ginger and stir/sautee them. Add the onions about a minute later and do the same.

Throw in a big chunk of the beef into the pan, about 2.5 lbs, breaking it up into small pieces you can work with as you go. (Bare hands are the way to go! It’s more fun if you also say out loud, while you’re doing this “I’m a carnivore, and I didn’t claw my way up the food chain to eat rabbit food!” )

Grind a whole bunch of pepper into it, and stir fry it up until there’s not too much pink left.

Sprinkle in the right portions of soya sauce/cooking sherry.

Finish cooking, until the liquid is minimal, and the beef is cooked but not over-browned.

Transfer to some heat-safe bowl or something and let stand. Wipe out the pan, repeat the whole process for the next 2.5 lbs.

 

With 5 lbs, you end up with a little over 10 cups of beef, that you can transfer to a big Tupperware container when it cools enough, and refrigerate.

You can do anything with this stuff. It has enough taste to just eat it (I had a cup of it just now, thrown into a bowl and nuked for a minute, as “breakfast”), but not so much that you can’t throw it into anything, like spaghetti sauce, or on toast with cheese melted on it…whatever.

Check it out. A cup of this has 32 grams of protein, and about 300 calories, so it breaks the 1/10 protein/calories ratio, and isn’t too fatty to be particularly bad for you: http://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/1cup-cooked-extra-lean-ground-beef-ground-sirloin-ground-round-meatballs-or-patty-113273580

So, imagine you take a cup of this stuff, throw it in a bowl and nuke it for a minute while you make a couple slices of toast. Pile half of it onto each slice of toast, throw a bunch of grated cheese on top, and throw it back in the nuker for about 30 seconds to melt the cheese. Total prep time, about 3 minutes. Eat it, and you’re probably looking at about 40-some-odd grams of protein in total, and it tastes pretty great. It seems like a substantial snack, but not meal.  You could definitely work out 20 minutes after eating it, without feeling bloated, gross, and sluggish. (I’m going to do that now) I feel like a million bucks after I eat something like this.

I bet if you pipelined the entire 10 lbs, and especially if you cheat and buy jars of already diced garlic and ginger, you could cook the whole batch in a little over an hour. I know I can probably eat about 2 cups of this stuff a day, getting 64 grams of protein, almost half of my minimum daily, so I’d be set for 10 days, all for an hour or two of cooking, and what works out to about $7 a day.

All this text makes it sound like a bit of a pain in the ass, but it’s actually too easy. It’s great to cook when you’re starving, like I was, ‘cuz I ate a cup of it from the first pan, while I was cooking the second half. Connor came into the kitchen while I was doing it to see what was going on, because it smells freakin’ amazing too.

Anyway, something to consider if you want to diversify your sources of protein, and actually enjoy what you’re eating. I love this stuff so much, I actually woke up this morning thinking “I gotta get up so I can have breakfast!” LOL!

Cheers!
Chris.

Why Audio Matters To Me

Story time…

Once upon a time, in the last couple weeks at the close of the 20th century, I did some work that had nothing to do with music, and everything to do with life.

One of my co-workers, an IT dev manager (I’ll call her “Mindy” for the purposes of this story) called me into her office, and pulled out a small 1/4″ open-reel tape. She knew I was taking studio engineering night classes at Columbia Academy, and doing things like tape work. She had found this tape in her attic, and didn’t know exactly what it was, but had a vague idea, and knew it was extremely important.

So I took it, and brought it with me to my next night class in the tape lab. It was the week before Christmas, 1999. When I got to the lab, I hauled the tape out, and got to work.

I had to carefully trim the ragged ends of it, and splice a few feet of head and tail on it, so I could thread it without losing anything. Everything with this tape was laborious, because it was so ancient, I didn’t want to risk damaging it, or even playing it more than once or twice because of potential tape shed.

I hooked up my portable MD recorder to one of the nicer open reel machines in the lab, threaded the tape, donned a pair of AKG K240s, went into record monitor, and hit play. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It was probably one of the most mind-blowing things I’ve ever heard…but I’m getting to that. I only listened to a few seconds, because as I said, I was concerned about damaging this historical artifact.

Technical part (skip this, if you only care about the human story): The tape was recorded at 15 ips, as two mono tracks (ie. two “sides”). It was about 9 minutes long, per side. So after some playback head alignment (with a jeweler’s screwdriver), and some quick level setting, I recorded it to a digital stereo track on the MD recorder, while playing the tape back at half-speed (7.5 ips), to get the best audio quality possible. Basically, this meant sitting and listening to voices and sounds at half speed…forward in the left ear, and backwards in the right, for 18 minutes. It was maddening, because of how odd it sounded, and how carefully I needed to monitor it all in case anything bad happened. But also because I desperately wanted to listen to what this actually sounded like properly.

That didn’t happen until I got home. I transferred the digital files from the MD recording into audio software on my PC. This would have been CoolEdit Pro running on Windows 98 at the time. It was an exciting exercise, as I got closer to finally listening to what it all was. I split the file into two mono tracks, reversed one, doubled the base sample rate (to effectively play it back at the correct “double speed”), and did adjustments. The least possible noise reduction, to filter out some of the tape hiss, without introducing any digital artifacts, and some spot level adjustments, to make it more comfortably listenable.

I was lucky about one thing, and I almost think that the person who recorded it did this on purpose, just for me…reaching out across the decades to lend a helping hand to that unknown stranger who would one day be doing all this. On this tape, at the start of side two, there was a short clip, about 12 seconds, of Booker T. and the MGs – Green Eggs and Ham. I was able to use that as a pitch/timing reference, to figure out that the actual recording speed was about 8% shy of the standard 7.5 ips, and use that fact to pitch adjust the recording so it was exactly right. Go figure…

I took the final results, burned it to CD, and brought it in to work the next day, after an “almost-all-nighter”. I went to see Mindy, with this CD in my Discman, and she sat down and started listening. I’ll never forget the look of complete shock on her face, and how she started crying. Of course, I did too.

Her father, who had died a little over a decade earlier, had a really fascinating career. He had started as a journalist in the 60s, and worked a lot with field recording…interviews with people, including one with Roosevelt Douglas, after the Sir George Williams Affair (read it, it’s a fascinating piece of Canadian history). I got that recording too, a few months later, by the way. He also served in the Canadian military, stationed all over the place, and doing various recordings for them. He used a field recorder very much like this:

TelefunkenMilitaryR2R03

At some point, circa 1968, one of Mindy’s nieces was born, and her dad decided to make a “welcome to the world” tape for her. It has a lengthy chunk of him talking, recounting family stories, as well as greetings from a whole slew of other relatives, many of whom were long passed away by the time this recording was finally heard. It even includes Mindy herself, at about 5-6 years old, saying a few things. It has all the charm you can imagine, with people who are nervous and awkward about being recorded, and everything else that you’d expect in the audio equivalent of an old home movie. It is a beautiful 18 minutes, that I am so honoured to have helped bring back to life, I can’t even describe that feeling.

Mindy insisted on paying me for it. I’ve never less wanted money for anything I’ve ever done. In fact, I might even still have that cheque around here somewhere, uncashed.

This recording actually ended up being the centerpiece for a large family reunion, with far-flung relatives flying in from all over the world to all sit down together and listen to it. I want to say I couldn’t believe how much of an impact it had, but of course I do. This is the kind of thing that rarely happens, but when it does, it reminds me why I care so much.

So that’s the full story about one of my “greatest hits”. Thanks for reading!

“Contrarian” Investing

225

“In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” – Famous quote misattributed to George Orwell. True attribution unknown.

A quick definition of Contrarian Investing is “an investment strategy that is characterized by purchasing and selling in contrast to the prevailing sentiment of the time”
( http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/contrarian.asp )

Pretty simple. But more valuable than ever in a time where real news is labelled “fake”, and vice versa. A time where everyone around seems to be living in various bubbles. Echo chambers that feed into their confirmation biases. Willful ignorance. Information overload. Any number of reasons.

I get it. The world is a complicated and messy place, and investing properly means seeing connections between so many disparate pieces of information, much of which might be incorrect, or downright fabricated. The problem is further complicated by a secondary effect, which is the actions of other players (both human, and “headline scanning” high-frequency trade machines), acting upon their perception of reality.

The thing is though, when “everybody knows” something, it often turns out to be false. Especially in the investing world, even a definitive truth leads to distortion. If a stock, fund, or other asset is clearly incorrectly valued, and that fact becomes widely known, the buying or selling frenzy that ensues will revalue it grossly beyond where it makes any kind of rational sense.

I look for these things. It does require work. But it’s like anything. You don’t buy a big ticket item without doing research. Once you own it, you still need to pay attention to it, giving it proper care and maintenance. Car analogies abound.

The best investments, IMHO, are the ones you’ve been paying attention to for a long time, that suddenly enter the spotlight in a nonsensical way. They’re like finding a precious antique at a garage sale.

But this means you have to know something about antiques. Genuine interest must come first. Thankfully, there are so many different things to invest in, it stands to reason that there’s something for everyone. I’ve even encountered people who beat the odds consistently, by knowing about coffee. Coffee futures on commodity exchanges, stocks in large coffee retailers, etc. Go figure.

Me? Well, here’s what part of my desktop looks like:

measures

I have the same set of stats on my desktop at home and at work, and those are all updated once per minute. They tell me the price of Canadian crude oil (Western Canada Select), the currency exchange rate between the US and Canadian dollar, and both the North American spot price of gold, and how much a physical ounce costs to buy/sell in down town Vancouver.

Clearly I’m interested in precious metals, oil, and currency. It could just as easily be tech sector, real estate, or whatever. But I can’t help it. I know people who live and work in northern Alberta, and I love gold, ok? 😛

So I’ve been watching, and I noticed, especially towards the end of 2016, that across the board, precious metals mining stocks have been severely undervalued. I read news about them, look at their financial reports, and developed a growing sense of this. I figured that even by conservative estimates, the majority of the sector is at least 30% lower than it should be. These companies have real assets, real profits, and pay real dividends on stock, so it’s not like the “fantasy” investing that pervades the unicorn stocks in the tech sector, where companies are deemed to be worth billions because of “eyeballs”, or whatever.

That’s why my first investment, when I finally got a hold of a self-directed account for TFSA (Canadian Tax Free Savings Account) investing, was a precious metals miner fund. Exactly one month after my date of purchase, it was up 22.4%. Did I expect that? Not exactly. Is it volatile? Of course it is. I expect that at some point very soon, it’ll go down by a shocking amount. I think, though, that within the next year or two, I’ll see a point where it’s up 35%, and maybe I’ll sell, depending on the situation as I see it.

Another thing I’m looking at is the Euro. Based on a barrage of news, from everywhere, I see it crashing hard soon. It could be a year or two, or it might not be until 2020. I don’t day trade. I look at what could be deemed “intermediate term”, because my predictions always seem to have a general degree of accuracy over that time range. I don’t have a crystal ball to know what anything in the world will look like when I’m ready to retire, and I don’t know what crazy thing is going to happen within the next 48 hours.

I think the Euro is going to trend downward, and some day I’ll wake up and it’ll suddenly crash by a double digit percentage. So how do you bet against something? You short it. See this: http://www.investopedia.com/university/shortselling/

Of course, I’m nowhere near a sophisticated enough of an investor to do this on my own, but I’m looking at a couple managed funds that do this. This will probably be something I buy next.

General thoughts… Investing properly like this requires constant learning. You can’t be afraid of math, and you have to be interested in news about the things you’re looking to invest in. Thankfully, this learning has been an organic process for me. When I look at performance charts, I’ll see options to show things like Bollinger Bands. I had no idea what those were a few years ago, but as is often the case, Investopedia came to the rescue.
( http://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/bollingerbands.asp )
I remember enough highschool math to remind me about moving averages, and standard deviations, so I felt comfortable with what those additional lines on the graph tell me. As a general rule, if I can’t understand a metric, I don’t pay attention to it. I’ve only got my toes wet in the ocean of technical analysis. I leave the finer details that might matter to day traders and fund managers to those people.

Ok, this is turning into a bloody book (as usual). I’ll stop for today with a “to be continued”…

R.I.P. What.CD outtakes

Other things I’ve posted, and some additional thoughts:

I found my favourite Japanese band Veltpunch via What.cd. There was one album. When their second album came out, and it didn’t appear on What, I ordered it online from a Japanese site (paying a small fortune), ripped it (to What’s extremely exacting standards), scanned all the liner notes, the CD tray card, and the CD itself, packaged it up, and threw it into the best music library in the world, with a full detailed write-up on it.

I did the exact same thing for the next 3 CDs. So 4 of the 5 Veltpunch albums that were on What.cd were my shares. I also did this with a couple dozen other incredibly rare discs I don’t think anyone would ever be able to find anywhere else. Some of them, I worked hard to track down and buy, because somebody on What requested them, but I also wanted them badly enough, and was willing to put in all this work to contribute to a place so extreme in its dedication to excellence, even I had a tough time meeting their standards (and had at least a couple of my early uploads turfed because I missed something).

People don’t know. What wasn’t just a pirate site. It was where you went to learn. It was the source of truth about everything to do with music. I’ve learned so much more about music and audio in the last 8 years or so, just because of that place. Nothing else on the internet comes even remotely close.

I’m still in denial. This can’t be it…so many millions of hours of work…

There it is, still in the top left of my firefox “new tab” top sites. Not because it’s pinned, but because it’s how I start and end my day, pretty much every day…

Björgmundur Spjallþráð's photo.

Also, there were the donations. I had bitcoins, so I’d donate something every once in a while. It probably averaged out to about $100 a year, about $800 in total, if I had to estimate. Nowhere near what What was worth to me. How much would that have been? $20, $30, $40 a month? Probably.

Then of course, there’s this:
img_20161119_2309199
I can’t even begin to describe what I’m feeling. It’s not like somebody died. It’s like part of me died. I don’t know how else to put it.

R.I.P. What.CD

What.cd is no more. This article says much of what I could say about it:

http://qz.com/840661/what-cd-is-gone-a-eulogy-for-the-greatest-music-collection-in-the-world/

I feel like a limb has just been chopped off. It’s been less than a day since I found out, and already I’ve had at least half a dozen instances of wanting to know something, thinking “well, I’ll just check what.cd”, and realizing I can’t do that.

Every time, over most of the last decade, that anyone has ever asked me a music question that’s so random and obscure that I don’t already know the answer, I’ve always simply said “I dunno, but give me 2 minutes”, and I’ve found a solid, reliable answer on what.cd

It cannot be overstated. The rest of the internet, the rest of humanity’s collected knowledge about recorded music anywhere else outside of what.cd is inferior by orders of magnitude. Wikipedia is laughably incomplete, and full of wild inaccuracies. Discogs.com is typically a little over half-complete for any given artist, and lacking in the kind of background information that provides any useful context to what you find. Everything else is horrendous, especially when it comes to music that pre-dates the 1960s, music outside the western world, and anything extremely obscure, underground, or ridiculously rare.

It was to the point where, if something wasn’t already on what.cd, or at least being discussed there, it was probably fake.

So, for me, it wasn’t about piracy. Sure, I downloaded a ton of stuff from there. At last check, about 700 FLAC torrents. A tiny drop in the bucket of records, tapes, CDs, SACDs, DVD-As, and digital downloads I’ve purchased. Most of it is things that simply cannot be bought, or so obscure and so long out-of-print that you can only find a used copy somewhere for several hundred dollars.

It was about knowledge. It was things like:

I want to re-buy an old favourite album that I only have on cassette. Which CD or vinyl pressing, over the years has the best sound quality? What.cd would always have a discussion with people comparing (with spectrum graphs, and DR analysis results) different remasters, and declaring a winner…usually indicating that a recent remaster had succumbed to the “loudness war”, and had all the life sucked out of it.

I once borrowed a version of a CD that had bonus tracks on it that the item on amazon.com is missing, but I want to buy it for myself. Where did that CD come from?

Every CD I ever ripped, for my own use, to put on my player, I always ran through what.cd/logchecker.php, even if I had no intention of torrenting it. It was the only real way to ensure that the rip was “100% perfect”. If it met what.cd’s unique set of arduously determined, and strongly justified conditions, it was even above and beyond my own requirements. I hope somebody has that source code, and it resurfaces.

Guides. Vinyl ripping guides, file conversion guides, audio engineering and analysis guides. “How to get into [obscure band]” discussions. The “name that tune” sub-forum. The “is this fake?” sub-forum. If it wasn’t on the Steve Hoffman Music Forums, it was at what.cd.

Then, of course, there were the “strings to pull”. An off-hand comment in the discussions under any given release, saying “this album isn’t as good as…”, or “these guys remind me of a watered-down [better band]”.

This was coming from people who were members there. Being a member there meant something different. You couldn’t last there (or even become a member there) unless you were a certain type of person. Sure, it was elitist, but it needed to be, in order to maintain a level of integrity unsurpassed anywhere else regarding music. You had to pass a live test to get in there, and it was HARD. Study guides were available, and although I did need to brush up for a few hours first, I know many people needed to do some serious learning for days or weeks before they were ready. Accounts were dropped for any kind of bad behaviour there, warnings were issued for breaking rules, torrents were (usually within minutes) reported for not meeting a standard. I had two of my early torrents dropped for missing something, and I was warned a couple times (eg. for providing a fact without citing appropriate sources), and I wouldn’t dream of complaining, because it was fully justified.

I just don’t know that something like what.cd will ever exist again. The millions upon millions of hours, from extremely dedicated people, required to make what.cd what it was…I don’t even know if the members there will be willing to go through another decade of that kind of thing again somewhere else. I know I’m simply too demoralized right now to even contemplate it.

But maybe, my wild hope is that all those terabytes of site data (none of the actual torrents, because that’s only a tiny part of what made that place valuable) survived somewhere, and will be made available somehow. Kinda like:

You’re in Russia and more than a million works of art
Are whisked out to the woods
When the Nazis find the whole place dark
They’ll think God’s left the museum for good

Right now though, the song in my head is not that one, but Don McLean’s American Pie.

If you read all this, thanks. I just needed to get all this off my chest. I’ll end with a composite screenshot of just one tiny piece of the site. The top half (not including the exhaustive user discussion section) of one of millions of pages just like it…

oxygene_what-cd

See also: https://umdesch4.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/r-i-p-what-cd-outtakes/

 

Sigur Rós – Popplagið mixdown

On June 30th, 2006, Sigur Rós performed Popplagið, from the album () at Klambratún Park, Reykjavik, Iceland. It was a landmark performance, broadcast live around the country on RÚV and captured in its entirety on the bonus DVD of the documentary Heima. Despite having seen them perform this song myself a few times, and listening to/watching every performance of it I can find, this is still my favourite, and also one of my favourite concert performances of all time. I watch that disc on my home theater whenever I get a chance, at house-shaking volume. I decided I wanted to carry the audio of it with me, but I haven’t been happy with any of the stereo mixes of it I’ve found. So I decided to make my own “headphone mix” from the 5.1 surround audio on the DVD itself.

I ripped the DTS stream, originally 32-bit, 48 kHz, to a monstrous set of raw .wav files, pulled the whole mess into Adobe Audition, and went to work. I didn’t want to mess with things too much, so there’s no effects added, EQing, or anything like that. The only real serious change I did was throwing a tiny amount of compression on the center channel. There were some volume changes at various points in the center channel audio that I feel are “inauthentic” and probably done manually after the fact for the DVD. It doesn’t jive with the original TV broadcast, and doesn’t jive with my experience of their other live performances. I felt like this was a justified attempt at an “undo” on my part.

The rest was just mixing. I took a surround submix from the left and right surround channels that I was going to play with the stereo imaging on, but it was just too good to mess with. All I did with that was offset it in the final mix by 100 ms, just to recreate a feeling of “big space” when you listen to it in headphones. I also nudged it up a barely perceptible 2 dB, relative to everything else in the full mix. Similarly, I jacked the LFE up a surprising 4 dB before I felt like the bass had enough warmth and thump to sound right in the various pairs of headphones I was auditioning this with.

Really, that’s about it. The mix I ended up with matches my personal preference reasonably well. There are some things that I can’t “fix” without a lot of work. Everything I did was “fire and forget” settings that apply to the entire duration of the track. Some time, if I ever get several hours, I might try to do something about the extreme limiting on the main left+right mix that really squashes things in the last few minutes. That kind of thing is extremely difficult to fix though. I can clearly see that this was done in mastering, and is a sad waste of 32 bits. The resulting mix has a dynamic range that is just shy of 80 dB, when technically it could, and should be nearly double that. Also, I might do a more tailored volume adjustment on the center channel, instead of the blanket compression I did. It makes Jónsi‘s voice a little loud when he first comes in. Then again, I love the way it all sounds anyway, so maybe not!

At the end of it all, I feel like this mix isn’t perfect yet, but is vastly superior to any other stereo mix I’ve yet heard, so I’m happy to share it. All technicality aside, this right here is the prime example of why I say music is my religion. Grab your best headphones, crank this, and be transported:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B0rPp4_Z9UenOFBfY05JeXlDWFk