Friday, March 18, 2022


Between my school years and my early twenties I was coming to decisions about what to do with my life – where to apply my effort. I’ve mentioned in interviews how I focused on writing because it could incorporate many of my other interests. All knowledge is useful when your vocation is describing the world and its people. Though that world might be a fantastical or science fictional one, there are truths about the way ecologies work, physics works, science works, how people behave and more besides. Once asked what I thought was one of the most important factors in writing my answer was: the truth. In writing I could eclectically select from my other interests and apply them.   

What I haven’t mentioned before is how I put aside one of my interests: art. I was good at drawing and painting and felt that with sufficient effort I could become very good at it. But what is the measure of success in this enterprise? Money is one measure, personal satisfaction is another, but at the time I looked to the art world to see what was lauded and what did I find? I found daubs that looked like the products of snails dipped in variously coloured paints and dropped on a canvas. I found sculptures that looked like interpretations of the world from a five year old. And I found a pile of bricks sitting in the Tate gallery. No, art was not for me, because the systems of measure of excellence were fucked up and had been for a long time.

I remember the feeling of disappointment; of an option closed down by gatekeepers who seemed to have lost all grip on reality. Now I wonder about the many girls and young women, physically competent and excelling at sports, who push themselves to do better and into competition. Are many of them now feeling the same when they look to the future of something they want to turn into a vocation? Do they get that sinking feeling of disappointment seeing the option, the course, and the final goals closed down by a silly ideology that puts them on the track, or in the swimming pool, or whatever physical sport they want to pursue, with a man? Are they reconsidering their futures?

The ideologues of the left talk much about colonization and, as ever, they are accusing those who oppose them (basically anyone who isn’t them) of the sin they commit. While in the process of supposedly ‘decolonizing’, their ideology has colonized the arts and humanities, the media, governments and schools, and it’s now colonizing the sciences and the sport’s world. It’s a virus – spreading from the organs originally infected to destroy others too. It does not assess whether what is destroys is good or bad, and offers no rational replacement for the same. Except, of course, for the wonderful utopia it purports to be ushering in.   

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Keto Eating and All That.

Those who follow me on the social media will know that for quite a few years now I’ve been on a health-optimising rollercoaster. The background on this I’ve detailed and you’ll find it by scrolling through the hundreds of blog posts here, but in précis it is this: 1) A life of booze, cigarettes and the usual food until past fifty. 2) Knowing I must do something upon seeing the decline of people around me of similar age or just a bit older. 3) Watching my wife die of bowel cancer.  

Stopping smoking using e-cigarettes was a start because, as anyone who smokes knows, exercise is unpleasant while smoking and, along with other measures like diet, seems like a sticking plaster over the gaping wound of destroying ones lungs. Next was walking, mainly to ameliorate the psychological outfall of my wife’s death. With these my physical health improved markedly, though it took some years before the organ between my ears got back up to full function again. I lost a lot of weight and became quite fit, mainly because I couldn’t drink, wasn’t eating a great deal and was walking seven miles nearly every day. As my mind came back so did nasty habits, like drinking too much, eating crap, and like many in their fifties I wasn’t too happy with my side reflection in shop windows. Walking declined though I did other exercise like kayaking and weight training, but still the dreaded pod returned.

Phew, and now we’re up to date.

During all this time I’d started reading up a lot on ways to optimise health. In fact I was looking for ways to reverse or ameliorate 40+ years of bad choices. I’d hit a big one by stopping smoking, my exercise was good but still there was that fat. Fat is not good. Fat is hormonally active and can take you into diabetes. I won’t keep on about its many drawbacks sufficing to say that I needed to lose weight. I had always known that exercise does not cut it. There’s a perception out there that visits to the gym will take you along the course to the weight loss but it is simply not true. I’ve spent plenty of time in gyms and know that if you heave about the weights you’ll grow muscle, but every time I’ve done it the girth of my waist increased along with my biceps. And, frankly, when you sweat out twenty minutes on a cross trainer and burn only the calories of a slice of bread, you know that’s not the answer. The answer is controlling what you put in your gob.

So, over the years I tried fasting, and continue to do so. It works very well and drops off the fat at an astounding rate. However, though sometimes I would find it easy going into a fast, at other times it seemed plain impossible. I will continue doing this when I can, but find it difficult to sustain. What I needed was some method I could maintain: a change in lifestyle. 

Part of that change arrived over this last year and that was knocking the booze on the head. I did 73 days and had a lapse, but now after that I’ve been six months off the hooch. There’s more about all that a few posts back here. Meanwhile, I had been reading about various diets. From what I am given to understand a ‘normal’ diet doesn’t work so well because constantly starving your body brings your base metabolic rate down. Your BMR could be 2000Kcals a day at the start of a diet, but if you go down to eating 1500Kcals a day you’ll eventually plateau with your BMR set down to that (with the side effect of feeling cold, miserable and lacking in energy) and then, when the hunger becomes too much to bear as it inevitably does, you’ll go back to eating as before and pile the weight back on, usually more than you lost. But I had also been seeing much about the ketogenic diet and thought it time to give this a try. 

The theory of the keto diet is this: When you eat carbohydrates they knock up your insulin – big time if they’re simple carbs like sugar and starch. Insulin pushes one way to stick any excess you eat into fat cells and to a large degree prevents those cells releasing fat to be burned. If you can get your insulin down it is easier to burn fat. Ways of doing this are fasting ranging from those lasting 16 hours and upwards to days, or eating a diet without carbs – the ketogenic diet. Apparently you easily lose weight on this diet, so off I went.

After managing to do a fast of two days I dived in, eating main meals of just vegetables, eggs and meat, with a later plate consisting of cheese, nuts, raw veg and preserved sausage. I delightedly had cream in coffee too because eating fat is good while those bad carbs were down to 50 or 20 or sometimes zero grams per day. Hey, it’s all good stuff, fat is good, no problem! My weight, to my dismay, went up.

So no, the ketogenic diet is not as easy as some would have us believe. Delving into it all further I found that the reality is this: you do feel more full eating this fat based diet, you can lose body fat much more easily with your insulin down and hell I knew I was burning fat because my keto sticks were well into the purple and my breath meter readings were 3.0mmol/L and above, at one point even going as high as 8.00mmol/L, but the problem here is which fat am I burning, dietary or body fat? The problem here is that despite the claims of the keto fanatics, calories in and calories out still matters.

I convinced myself for a while that my weight gain was due to me putting on muscle, since I was hitting the weights regularly for an hour a day four or five days a week. I had in fact attained a body shape resembling a brick shithouse. But I was back to where I had been before while weight training with waist girth growing in consonance with biceps growth. Further investigation into the matter revealed a simple reality I had been aware of but was not admitting to myself: nutrient density. Nuts, cheese and cream are keto favourites but they are hugely calorie dense. You might not feel as hungry when you eat them, but seriously, check the number of calories in just a handful of nuts or, as had become a favourite with me, a pot of clotted cream. It was just too easy to eat too much.

I didn’t give up. I didn’t buy any more nuts or clotted cream, and reduced what I was putting in my coffee to a teaspoonful of full fat cream. The cheese went to being a rare treat rather than a staple. I was also more strict about the intermittent fasting I had introduced when my weight started climbing – not eating my first meal for 16 to 20 hours after my last meal the previous day. I did a two day fast at the start of this new course and my weight started to tumble. After a period of time I began to notice muscle definition even reaching the point where I could lose the end of a finger between the muscles on my biceps and forearm. Then I started to really feel like crap.

Now this is where it gets weeds and I don’t know what caused what. I’d also been reading about the benefits of lion’s mane mushroom and started taking the powdered version of that. It might be that I also picked up a bug – it certainly felt like that. I felt like I had a cold and then I got the roaring shits. Later reading reveals that lion’s mane can cause severe stomach problems. Or maybe I got a dose of covid. Or maybe, as seems possible, I’d over-trained. Or maybe it was a combination of all these. Whatever the reason I didn’t want to keep feeling like this, went off to the shops and bought carbs and, over the last five days stuffed myself. Almost immediately I put back on a lot of the weight I’d lost. Certainly much of that was glycogen filling up my muscles and my liver – another thing I learned is that though you will often read that glycogen weight is about a pound (500g) that is not necessarily true. It can go to two pounds and more, and this weight is multiplied three to four times by the water retained to hold it. I also stopped the gym for a week which didn’t help 

Now, at the end of a week of no gym, no keto, no lion’s mane and eating carbs I feel better, but I still have no real idea what I’m feeling better from. Today, as I have done on a few occasions before, I emptied various food packets into my composter and skimmed slices of bread over the back hedge. I’m going back into keto, probably including a long fast, but certainly re-introducing the 16 to 20 hours fasts each day. I’ll return to the eggs, meat and veg and forgo the nuts and clotted cream, and I’ll be heading back to the gym. This time I won’t do anything beside that and hope no bug comes along to clobber me, then I’ll find out. If I start feeling rough again and end up spending more time on the toilet than I like I’ll know that straight keto is not for me and I need to apply some other strategy. Perhaps what is called carb cycling. . .

I’m a work in progress, as ever.    

Hope this was helpful for those who are interested.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

Social Media Posts February 2022

 Feb 2nd

Phew! I guess I've now got what I was aiming for with ketosis. It's been 6 days since I ended my last fast. I've been eating 2 keto meals a day in a 6 to 8 hour eating window. Breath meter reading hasn't dropped below 2.8mmol/L ketones while the sticks have been reading higher at around 4 (pink/purple). Face looks haggard and my weight is definitely 5lb down on last week and still dropping.

So how is your health and fitness routine going?

Feb 3rd

Trudeau only has a hammer and everything is a nail. When you see stuff like this, and the recent asshole opinion of Whoopie Goldberg, you come to understand that the woke left exist in a parallel universe. Also, in our universe, they're just a reality check away from occupying a rubber room.

Feb 4th

Just in case I ever disappear from here on FB, which is always possible with their censorious attitude, I can be found on Gab. Neal Asher @nealasher

And my Twitter alternative should I ever get kicked off there is Parler, again Neal Asher @nealasher

Feb 5th

Corporates as usual collapsing under pressure like empty suits. Gofundme have cancelled the millions of dollars donated to the truckers in Ottawa. Those who donated will have to fill in forms to reclaim their money else it will go to 'approved' organisations, y'know, like one that was burning down buildings not so long ago. Meanwhile Spotify is hurriedly taking down Joe Rogan podcasts from the likes of dangerous comedians. *sigh*

Oh I see what you did there: reality doesn't match the models, therefore reality must be altered.

He blinked and backed down (Rogan), validating his woke detractors. They will only increase their attacks on him. For the woke, or their opinions, attention is oxygen and they should be deprived of it.

Jack Reacher on Prime -  very enjoyable.

Feb 6th

Okay, plenty of smart IT guys here. When I'm looking at a site in Safari and want to post it to Facebook I just hit the post icon top right of the page and that opens a box of sites I can post it to. All I get in that list, however, is FB, Twitter and instagram. How can I add others there? When I want to post to Gab or Parler I have to laboriously copy and paste the address and would like to simplify that.

Damn Twitter. With this new Ipad I had Twitter back and started scrolling through it again. It is ridiculous how it sucks one back in. I found myself getting annoyed, political and making comments. It just isn't any good for the mind. Okay, in terms of liberty and the awful rise of the woke, those truckers in Canada are important, as is what's happening with Joe Rogan, but me getting angry and shouting into that vacuous site only serves to make me feel crappy. In all honesty I kept Twitter up because I stupidly hadn't figured out how to hide it from my home screen rather than delete it i.e. I wanted to keep it to post to through Safari but not be tempted to look. Now I have and it can bugger off.

Feb 8th

The day before yesterday I all but emptied my fridge. I'm now 42 hours into another fast and have been keeping myself busy to avoid thinking about a trip to the supermarket. 2,000 words written and house cleaned throughout. 🤣 Since I was eating keto before there's been no delay on ketosis - I never dropped out of it. It has been interesting to see how ketosis varies between the two measures I have. The sticks and the meter show changes that seem unrelated (they do measure different ketones) though if I got really anal I could probably track it e.g. perhaps breath ketones dropping when I drink milky tea or urine ketones rising x hours after my last meal or something. Whatever. My clothing has stopped shrinking.

Feb 9th

It's not just 5 years they've been shouting resist and putting #resist in their profiles. The self-proclaimed revolutionary left have been 'the establishment' for decades.

Interesting metabolic functions. During a 46.5 hours fast the highest I got on the breath meter was 2.9mmol/L. Finishing my fast at 5.45pm yesterday I ate sausages, veg and eggs in one meal then cheese, preserved sausage olives and celery in another. I also ate clotted cream, put cream in coffee and milk in tea. Now look at the breath meter this morning. This tells me I am fat adapted. My ketones went up during my fast but I was burning them. Then eating all that fat knocked them up even higher.

Excellent stuff today. I'm now on the downslope of my latest book and heading towards the ending. 2,000 words today typed without appreciable pause. I think I did them in 2 or 3 hours. All I know is I sat down at my desk sometime this morning and then when I looked up again it was 1.00 PM. I love writing when it goes like that. Of course this is first draft so there'll still be lots of work to do after I've written: THE END.

Feb 10th

Well, I guess the ketogenic diet is working out. I fasted a few days ago then returned to eating keto. My ketones, instead of going down when I started eating again, have continued to climb (the picture). Meanwhile, since getting into this properly with my first recent big fast two weeks ago, I've shed 7lbs and it ain't water weight.

Feb 12th

Same bullshit as with covid: dodgy models, predictions of catastrophe from 'experts' who like the power and the limelight, graphs that never match reality, massaged statistics, plain lies and corporates and politicians with their hands in our pockets, except in the case of global warming this has been going on for twenty years.

Feb 14th

Keto diet plus intermittent fasting seems to have stabilised me at high ketones constantly. Around 7.0mmol/L on the breath meter and varying from light purple to darkest purple on the keto sticks. Interestingly if one goes lower the other goes higher. The ketones measured by each test are different ones and I wonder if their variability relates to whether body or dietary fat are being burned?

What are you doing for health and fitness? What routines and plans?

About to head to the computer to get on with the latest book. I did 10,000 words last week and aim for the same this week, or to finish it, whichever comes first. Be nice to have the first draft out of the way so I can concentrate on some other things. I want to get up to date on my accounts, update my website which still has The Human as my latest book, work on sorting out a novella collection and do some editing there. Also there are some other more prosaic things like buying some more clothing. T-shirts are faded and getting stretched around the head hole. Socks are getting thin. And weeks of doing squats have rendered many pairs of underpants too small! 🤣💪

How are things going with you lot? What plans do you have for this week?

Feb 15th

Just stuck myself on gettr too @nealasher. With all these (Parler, Gab) it's just a case of posting stuff, following people and seeing what occurs. Mostly not a lot which is why FB and Twitter persist.

Goodness me. I now check someone's timeline when they send a friend request, but before then many got through without vetting. Every now and again one pops up with some dim-witted leftism and I delete them. What's sad, when I check the profiles of those spouting the most egregious woke fuckery, is I so often find the word 'writer' there.

Feb 18th

A somewhat blustery day today. It's flipping the letterbox and just outside there's a red plastic light cover obviously peeled out of a car. I hardly noticed this until writing THE END. Yup, I just finished the first draft of my latest book at 160,000 words. Hack, slash, hammer and chisel, with increasing amounts of sanding and polishing now begins. Some call this editing.

How is your day going?

Feb 19th

I wrote a story years ago for Nature, in which a guy who broke his back walks into a museum to see the wheelchair on display there. This will happen.

This is an old one (podcast). I wonder now, since I've come to enjoy podcasts so much, whether I should say yes the next time someone asks me to come on one. I never really took much notice of them before, but now they're quite a big thing. What do you reckon?

Feb 20th

There's a Greek expression 'making a hole in water' i.e. attempting some task but failing. The figures here make me think vaccinations have been a costly attempt to stave off the inevitable. That the vaccinated are more likely to be infected now is a function of the limited life of the vaccines and that those who have actually been infected have better immunity. The UK government was right about herd immunity at the beginning, before politicians started shitting their pants and chose the Chinese totalitarian route.

Been farting about with internet stuff this morning. Blog posts up comprised of posts from here, Jack Four on my website homepage, security issue sorted with my router and . . . there I stopped. It's like tidying the house sometimes. Where's that potato peeler? Ah, it is in that drawer, best I clear the rubbish out of there. Five hours later all the drawers and cupboards have been sorted and I'm halfway through cleaning the oven.

I got back to editing instead because chores should be in order of priority. And now I want to get in a gym visit. It is Sunday, after all.

Feb 22nd

Editing editing, then in chapter 7 I decided one section was a clumsy segue and needed work. The result was a 2,000 word expansion there with more to do tomorrow. This is required finessing of the first draft, which was essentially getting down the bones of the story. Hours drifted away and no gym time was had, but I'm happy with the results.

Has anything interesting happened in the world while I've been aboard War Factory Room 101? How has your day been?

Feb 24th

Weak, vacillating leaders fiddling while Rome burns, pouring money into non-existent problems, into leaden stifling bureaucracies and into the pockets of their corporate buddies, and then via circuitous routes back into their own. More concerned with how they appear in the world than making a better one - arrogant, psychotic and utterly incapable of admitting to error. Desperate to maintain their con game and its supporting narratives. Then next topping that off with a panicked economy-killing response to a virus and transitioning that into a power and tax grab from the people. 

And now, sensing the weakness, the vain turpitude of societies that have lost their way in silly ideologies, the predators are moving. Putin has started the ball rolling and China may be next in Taiwan. Perhaps China and Russia can be regarded as the first components of a new 'Axis'. It's easy to demonize, but the US and its 'Allies' aren't exactly clean. All the wars and proxy wars in the Middle East, while the people there seeing the jets shooting over and the bombs coming down had, and have, the same fears of those now in the Ukraine.

My brief and perhaps incoherent thoughts on present world events - to be updated and altered as I learn more. What do you think?

Ooh, I'm actually enjoying editing this latest book. While writing it to first draft I had reservations about many things, along with the usual generalized angst about whether it would be good enough, but now they are going away. 

In retrospect I realise that I've been here before . . . about thirty times! 🤣

Yes, I need a bit more world-building description, and need to spend a bit less time in the protagonist's skull. And yes I need to chop out some repetition and clarify stuff about how a particular entity works. But that's easy stuff going from whole book focus to the specific. Working title, which seems likely to stick: War Bodies.

How has your day been?

Feb 25th

Good grief. The utter lack of rationality about all this. The possibility of world war looms and Biden continues stopping oil and gas drilling in the US, while Kerry bemoans the damage to the climate arising out of war. Meanwhile, deeper down the rabbit hole, Putin's attack is all about white supremacy, or because his mother didn't love him enough. 

I'm aware that the silly ideologies of the Western world are going to be its downfall. But It's probably going to happen sooner than I expected, which I hoped would be after I'm pushing up daisies.

Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Don't Ask

As a child, in my teens and through to my twenties and early thirties, I was an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy. I used to alternate between the library and a second hand bookstore to get my supply and, being a bit anal about such things, recorded all this. In those years I was reading on average ten books a month. There wasn’t much selectivity there since my aim was that sensawunda fix, but things changed over the years – I changed. I read outside of SFF, I wrote more, I got on with a life outside of reading, and I steadily read fewer and fewer books. I think this is a natural progression. To the youthful avid reader everything you find in books is new and shiny and, of course, at that age you have more time for it. Then life and a degree of ennui get in the way. You find repetition in books of themes, characters, story lines and all. But that doesn’t stop you reading, it just tends to make you choosy. Things would have continued like this with me had something else not happened. I would have continued to read fiction books but more selectively until I turned my toes up. However, I got published by Macmillan in 2000 and, within a year or so, became a full time writer.

My reading continued as before for a number of years, but the ‘getting published’ is the start of a steep learning curve. Though I am still what is described as a ‘seat of the pants’ writer i.e. I don’t plan much and writing a book for me is as much an exploration as reading one is for others, I began to really learn the profession. I began to see the bones of books, the sinews and essential organs. I could see how things worked, or didn’t work. One upshot of this I began to see that in the fiction of others too. I would often know where the story was going. I would see the holes and think ‘I wouldn’t have done that’ which applied even down to the choice of a single word. As this perception first began to kick in I called it having my ‘editing head’ on (hat tip to Wurzel Gummidge), as it was more intense when I was editing something, or just after.

During this period I went by the dictum of ‘paying it forward’ and read stuff yet to be published by others. In every case, when I’ve spent my time with an editing pencil because the writer concerned wanted my opinion good or bad, the response was mostly lacklustre. They didn’t want help; they wanted praise. As I became well known, I also read ARCs of books by big publishers, enjoyed some and provided jacket quotes. Notable examples are Blindsight by Peter Watts and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, but exceptions like them to my growing response of shrug and toss it aside were becoming rarer. Recently I tried reading books I always loved in the past and found myself giving up when hitting a continuity error, excess verbiage, silly plot twists – bad writing. I also recently tried a batch of new fiction to be very often baffled about how the books even got published.

Now, after more than thirty books, numerous short stories and novellas totalling over three million published words, I’m finding it very difficult to switch my editing head off. Which brings me to the point of this post: I am no longer a ‘normal’ reader and I don’t read or enjoy very much fiction at all anymore. This is why, when other writers now come to me with a reading request and possible jacket quote, I refuse. You guys, who want comments on your books, need to look elsewhere. You don’t want me reading your book; you want the bright-eyed SFF reader I was forty years ago. So sorry: don't ask.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Facebook Posts January 2022

 1st Jan

January 1st 2022. If previous years are anything to go by, and ignoring the viral push to be frightened of leaving the house, gym attendances will be up this month. Booze will also be capped and hidden away, or given away or discarded. Last cigarettes will have been stubbed out. Waistlines will be inspected, diet sites visited and promises made will be looming. As much as it is sneered at by many, the transition to a new year is a watershed and resolutions are a thing.
Have you made any resolutions, and dare you write them down?

2nd Jan

I've felt I've been getting slack on the writing front lately what with a lack of self-motivation and other factors. Yesterday (a day of sloth watching The Witcher) I decided it time to enact the physical impossibility of kicking myself up the arse. Reading science articles, learning Greek, reading a book and gym time went on hold today. I got up, showered and dressed, made a cup of coffee and went straight to my desk. I'm now out the other side of eight hours working on the book and feeling pleased with myself, though with neck ache and gritty eyes. Same again tomorrow.


4th Jan

A bit of sleety snow coming down earlier, which seems appropriate weather what with me feeling as rough as a pineapple today. I suspect 11 days of keto, plus going to the gym for an hour most days, lowered my immune system. As all colds seem to start with me, it's entry point was my left eye, making that sore and gummy with sneezes and snottiness ensuing. This does make me wonder about 'ketogenic diet benefits' since it's been all negative thus far and I should be getting through the worst of it by now. I'll see how I feel after this cold has passed (usually gone in a day or two but with eye gumminess lasting longer). If I'm not seeing benefits soon I suspect I'll be falling headfirst into a packet of crumpets and a malt loaf.

May be an image of sky and twilight

6th Jan

Toy purchased. Now why is it that when my brother Bob visits I often end up spending money?

No photo description available.

7th Jan

Ah that's better. Sometimes you need to get proactive to blow the dregs of a bug out of the system. 20 minutes HIIT on the cross-trainer followed by 40 minutes sweating with weights. Feeling good now. Cup of tea time.

May be an image of indoor

7th Jan

Damn, after using my old Ipad then having to resort to a Samsung tablet for some things no longer supported on it, it’s a pleasure using this new one! But what the hell do you do with an old Ipad? Put a hammer through it and bin it?

10th Jan

Meh, continuing dodgy throat, runny nose etc. I suspect I went back to the gym too early. But Paracetamol and Ibuprofen do the job and, as far as colds go, I’ve had worse.

11th Jan

Yay! The postwoman found me! (FB Memory)

No photo description available.

Okay, my cold has diminished and suddenly I’m finding energy to clear out cupboards, tidy stuff up and even a shopping trip. But I must resist the temptation to hit the gym and go buggering myself up again. Steak, eggs and vegetables today - at least I managed to stay strict keto despite the urge for comforting carbs - and continued relaxation.
How is your day going?

13th Jan

Medical profession and Big Pharma still want to capture ecigs, while idiot bansturbators want to be rid of them and to continue with methods of smoking cessation long proven to fail.

14th Jan

Buggeration. I’ve been a bit bollixed over a couple of weeks and am only kinda out of it now. It started as a cold whose method of entry (as usual for me) was through my left eye. I felt a bit rough for a day or so, it then seemed to go away so I did some weight training over two days. It came back with feverishness, sore throat and a runny nose. I took it easy and now it’s past. What variety of virus it was I’ve no idea.
Today started with my second covid jab whereupon I returned anxious to get on with some work. I have page proofs of Weaponized to go through, which I thought needed to be done by the end of the month. I was wrong as the email said ‘early this month’. I started looking at these and things hit me in the eye right away. I don’t know whether it’s my state of mind or what but I want to make lots of alterations. I now need more time for these or, as advised by Bella Pagan (Macmillan), to wait until my mind is firing on all cylinders.
I really should trust my past self, who has been through this manuscript a number of times, but I don’t - that guy is a dodgy bugger.

May be an image of indoor

19th Jan

Damn, time for a dirty fast transitioning into a clean fast to give me a boost towards weight loss. With one or two lapses I’ve been eating keto in a narrow eating window but my weight has gone up. This is probably due to weight training because I am taking on the physical characteristics of a brick shithouse. But sadly none of the fat is going away. Lesson learned: a fat adapted keto diet is not the answer for me.

21st Jan

Ooh shiny.

May be an image of book

22nd Jan

The ‘plant based’ fashion and virtue signal eh? Meanwhile one must remember that sugar, white flour and seed oils are plant based.

25th Jan

Bits of me aching and sore since this is the second morning I’ve pushed myself to go on a 7 - 8 mile walk. Yesterday, after doing this, I followed up with 2,000 words written, an hour of Greek, an hour in the gym and cleaning and tidying in the house. It’s a reality that when you push yourself to do more you find yourself inclined to do more besides that. It is also a reality that sloth is a downward spiral leading to ‘what happened?’ days at the end of which you find you’ve done bugger all. I now resolve to get things done that have dropped by the wayside during a crappy January.
How’s this month been going for you?

26th Jan

And if kids were taught how the tax system works, fewer would go through the socialist delusional phase of life, or grow out of it more quickly.

At last: a combination of eating keto previously and, each day over the last two, walking 7 miles and spending an hour in the gym, and now 36 hours fasting has put me firmly into ketosis. The strips are into the purple, the breath meter is reading 3.7mmol/L and I’ve dumped 6lb of water weight. Bit of advice here for those who want to try fasting: do it clean. Even a bit of milk in tea is enough to kick in hunger pangs and lead to failure. Been doing this for years and I still need that fact tattooed on my forehead.

I’ve not really been following this but what is the situation regarding Putin and the Ukraine? I got the impression that he was getting tetchy a while back because of US armament/missiles there. If this is the case then all the sabre rattling in Europe and the US at present is hypocritical, since his response precisely mirrors US tetchiness about Cuba 60 years ago.
What do you think?

27th Jan

Just past 60 hours fasting and laughing at the red screen on my ketone breath meter. It’s evident it was manufactured on the basis of medical opinion sans any knowledge of nutritional ketosis - the myth that ketone level can be equated with ‘ketoacidosis’ while leaving insulin out of the equation. Now I’ll go for a 7.6 mile walk to burn off more of my waistline fat roll, in the firm knowledge I could live off my body fat for months without harm and with great benefit.

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29th Jan

Excellent stuff. I fasted for 72 hours while walking and weight training each day. Keto stick went to it’s darkest while the breath meter reached 8.3mmol/L at one point. On the evening when I stopped I ate a load of nuts, cheese, meat and raw veg and ketosis continued just below 7.0. The next day I ate two meals: sausages, veg and mushrooms, and meat, cheese and raw veg. Ketosis still stuck at between 6.0 and 7.0. Now this morning it’s still in the ‘red zone’ between 5.0 and 6.0. I’ve dropped about 5lbs (not water because I’m now in a fed state). I may continue today. Certainly I’ll get another walk in and a gym visit.

Just appeared on Twitter. Seven years and eight books ago!

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Facebook Posts December 2021

 Damn, previous ones were in reverse order. I'll do it the other way round now.

1st December

I wonder if medical exemption from wearing a mask can include: allergic to tinpot Hitlers, scared sheep, medical profession rentseekers and authoritarian cunts?
Just asking.

3rd Dec

Blimey I'm knackered. After various gym sessions culminating yesterday in another half an hour of HIIT I slept 8 hours last night. This morning I got up, showered, drank a cup of coffee, then slept for another 1.5 hours in my armchair. All this exercise is good, the question I have is whether the addition of HIIT will increase my CV health and core strength, or lead me to being stretchered off to the hospital.

8th Dec

This article was 10 years ago and since then it's become increasingly clear that MORE salt is better, yet still the myth persists of salt being an unnecessary condiment that raises blood pressure. The fucking NHS is still coming out with that bollocks. Mentally hard wired 'medical professionals' are sorely in need of a kick up the backside.

Guy fell off a gym machine today and bashed his head (I saw the ambulance leaving as I arrived). Two and a half hour wait for an ambulance, apparently, while he was losing his memory and in a bad way. What did the intrepid medics do the moment they arrived? You guessed it: gave him a covid test.

9th Dec

Nothing quite like slumping in an armchair, weary of mind and body, with all the day's objectives achieved. I'm really going to enjoy this cup of tea.

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13th Dec

Hmm, that's good: today is my 100th day of zero booze. I seem to have gone well beyond any inclination for it, but won't relax my vigilance.

22nd Dec

So often I see memes or 'accepted knowledge' that pet owners are 'nice' people and you shouldn't trust people who don't like animals. Bollocks. Many pet owners are the most inconsiderate and selfish people around - oblivious to how the yapping and whining of Rover affects other people, oblivious to how Fluffy digs up and craps over other gardens, when not murdering local wildlife.

26th December

Time for a bit of thinning out of the 'friends' list. So many people on here I have no interraction with - people just gathering numbers. If you find yourself removed and it bothers you, then message me.

27th Dec

Meh. Ketogenic eating is difficult, not because of hunger or carb cravings - I can happily fill up with fat, meat and veg - but the mental aspect. My concentration and motivation are shot. This could be related to the brain missing the punch of easy glucose and serotonin, lack of salt and/or dehydration. Not sure. I do know I feel better mentally with some carbs in my diet, but worse physically. I'm hoping the present malaise is just the set of symptoms called keto flu and will pass. Damn it, it better - I've got work to do! I need focus to fully integrate a thus far 120,000 word manuscript in my skull and finesse a critical theme throughout.


Facebook Posts November 2021

 19th November

First time back at the gym in over a year and a half.

8th November

Looks like I'm all Jacked up.


7th November

Bye bye.

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4th November

Sea like a millpond, warm and lovely down at Revans and soon I'll set out on the kayak. I can see that the weather is going to be really nice over the next days, just to give me a departing middle finger as I head for the UK.

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Facebook Posts October 2021

 29th October

I briefly wondered at 4.00 this morning if an earthquake had woken me. Something was wrong. I drifted in and out of sleep but could not get comfortable. It finally impinged this was because I was sleeping on a slope. Why my bed decided to collapse on one side in the early hours I have no idea, certainly not for reasons I would enjoy. 🤣 Wood working tools, screws and wood glue out this morning.

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27th October

I got a message request from someone this morning, who went through all that effort to swear at me. Apparently I'd blocked him because of a 'Bernie joke'. This is highly unlikely considering my opinion of that politician but, whatever. Brings home that people are more reactive to a 'public figure', more likely to have their noses put out of joint, more likely to be offended. If people block me I don't even notice - I've got stuff to do. Anyway, I don't block people anymore. If stuff they put up is irritating I do the 30 day shutdown. If the irritating stuff is constant I unfollow. If their comments on my posts start to irritate, I unfriend so they can't comment. Social media: both a boon and a curse. Weeding is necessary so as not to get sucked into constant negativity.

23rd October

In Greece they have an expression 'kala na patheis' which means 'you get what you deserve'. This certainly applies in the case of a self-righteous Hollywood wanker doubtless working on a film glorifying the firearms he apparently abhors. But then one has to step back from the amusing memes and remember that someone died.

20th October

Yup. It's always nice to meet people I've met before: 'Hello Neal, how are you?' 'Hi there! (Who the fuck are you?) I'm fine, how are you?'

13th October

I was taking a look at Instagram, since it is mentioned so often. Kinda looks to me like an app for people who have less attention span than the average Twitterati. Am I wrong?

12th October

FUCK! Now that was an earthquake that had me running for the door! And some cracks in the house just got bigger!

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5th October

Over the last week the temperature dropped here from just wearing a pair of shorts in the house to jeans, socks and pullover. Down in Makrigialos I lost the inclination to swim and then after kayaking last time felt cold and didn't want to hang around, also hunger kicked in and I started eating everything in sight. Couldn't get warm today, ate like a pig, napped and then woke up feeling warm, which isn't usual after a nap (while napping is something I haven't needed to do for a while too). Internal thermostat adjusted. Makes sense, since your calorie burn is 50 to 80% BMR and a lot of that is body temperature. I've also been in calorie deficit for a while with a minimum of 2 to 3 hours heavy exercise each day. Much bigger adjustment coming next month in the UK. I'll probably walk out of the airport going, 'Fuck! Fuuuck!'

Facebook Posts September 2021

 1st September

Y’know this Biden character is reflected to greater and lesser degrees throughout the western world. Demagogues and idealogues who prance on the world stage intent on solving problems that exist mostly in the minds of the media, chiseling ‘post-normal’ scientists and internet ‘activists’. They never focus on their job, which is doing the best for their country and the people within it and, disconnected from reality by ideology, simply fuck up when reality becomes gnarly. They also don’t seem concerned about the consequences of their actions beyond the back-slapping of those in their bubble, the media response and/or their term of office. I see much larger clusterfucks down the road than what is happening in Afghanistan.

6th September

Meh. Mood plummeted this morning as an outfall of alcohol the afternoon before last. Some comfort in knowing what my neurotransmitters are doing and what poisons my body is expelling, but I still felt shit. Lesson learned yet again. Observations: I transitioned into asshole mode, interrupted sleep, got out of breath during my swim the next day and had to stop briefly, itching returned to one arm, nagging pain in the chest, upset stomach and squirts, return of some anxiety and depression.
I’m just going to have to ramp it up now. If I lapse again I’ll have to abandon kayaking and swimming and switch to mountain walking, and stay out of bars. Enough.

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Okay. New car acquired and I’m loving it!

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7th September

lack figs! The tree outside my house is producing nicely but, with my recent stomach upset (still ongoing) I can’t decide whether eating them is a good idea. I may never get out of the house!

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8th September

Nice new shiny car and almost inevitably, within a couple of days of buying it, the sky starts clouding up ready to rain and dump Sahara dust on it. That’ll teach me.

9th September

Okay, I got rained on while kayaking today. Summer draws gradually to a close and maybe time to look at booking a flight.

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11th September

Since it’s only six or seven months till I have to deliver the next book I’m upping my word count each day. At present it’s up a couple of hundred above the 2,000, but I may aim higher. I’ve never been this far behind before. I’m kinda finding the (self-imposed) pressure invigorating.

17th September

Oh well, bit of an off day today. I got a few lttle jobs done but not the main one i.e. writing 2,000+ words. I think to myself that I’ll do them later, but I’ll probably be knackered and slob out watching You Tube videos. No matter, since I’ll write over the weekend, but still annoying. Analysing, as I do, I can’t put my finger precisely on a cause and, thinking back, reckon the black dog visits me periodically just for shits and giggles.

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22nd September

Double prawns again at the Gabbiano Restaurant-Bar.

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23 September

Well, lazy day today. It’s been grey and drizzly up here in the mountains (though maybe not bad on the coast) and seemed like a good rest day – besides the kayaking I have been swimming a mile a day for over a month. No swimming and no kayaking today, just some weight training, Greek and reading thus far. Also a visit to couriers in Sitia to pick up a new cover for my Ipad and a bathroom fitting. Oh, and dealing with some NDA stuff I can only shout at the mountains. Now I’ll start writing. Been a good week this far with 7,267 words done and I want to keep on track with that. At 25,000 words into the new book it’s time now to put in page numbers, divide it up into chapters and start a contents list. This, while deciding where to take the story into a particular interstellar war. . .
How has your day been?

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24th September

Oh well, now I know why my screen washer wasn’t working: mice had chewed a hole in the pipe in one place and right through it in another. I’m shortly off to get a repellant spray for them, now I know where to buy it. Cheers Mark and Alison Perry.

Facebook Posts August 2021

Not bothering with reposts or pictures here. This is just me storing a few of my old Facebook posts. If you want more detail, then go and find them there! 

11th August

Oops, I didn't realise the time when I went out and swam round the little island. I think the returning pirate ship diverted to avoid me, whereupon a guy onboard whistled to get my attention and waved me towards the beach. I got out of the way sharpish and will pay more attention in future but, hell, would have looked good on the death certificate: run over by pirate ship. 🤣

17th August

Funny how people say you can be tracked by your phone. I got myself a new Samsung to take both my Greek and English sims. It frequently tells me I'm in Agios Stephanos - a village I haven't been to in years. Obviously Papagiannades is too difficult for the poor thing.

25th August

Well well. After having a few drinks at a wedding celebration (and I mean a few - not a few gallons) my count of days without alcohol ended at 71. I started at 1 the day after again but then yesterday I had one beer. Why? Was it because the momentum was gone? Was it because the alcohol was getting its claws back in? I felt great so it wasn't to make me feel better. Did I allow the push of others to affect me? In the end I think it was just one of those 'fuck it' moments. 

Ignore and move on since I won't have negated the positive physical and mental stuff of those 71 days. But I note a couple of things: I didn't like the taste, asshole aspects of my character started to rise, physical control diminished, I had to push myself to get some things done afterwards, rather than simply enjoying them, and I started to feel down as the alcohol went away. Good reminder of why I stopped, and now the count begins again.

29th August

Y'know, I'll often get caught here behind 50-year-old trucks that are half the age of their drivers, and that's okay. The vehicle is probably at maximum velocity and, seriously, you wouldn't want most of them going any faster. But the ones that really boil my piss, here and in the UK, are the coffin-dodgers trundling along in state-of-the-art fat-tyred lumps of tech capable of 0 - 60 in less time than a quack-fart. Listen mate, I know you don't want to wear out your tyres, you want to keep fuel consumption in the green virtue zone and stay at a speed ready for that sharp turn into the cemetery, but some of us have stuff to do, so get the fuck out of my way!

My willpower waned and I bought a loaf of bread. A shitload of cheese-and-onion sandwiches ensued. I guess it's good that 'naughty' for me now is a lapse into carbs and not headfirst into a beer barrel, or inhaling half a bottle of bourbon.

Monday, August 02, 2021

52 Days Dry

Many years ago, when I was sixteen, the landlord of our local pub came down for a weight-training session with my brothers and I in my parent’s garage. It came out that it was my birthday, whereupon he said, ‘I didn’t hear that’. I’d been having the occasional beer in there from the age of 14, and the quantity had increased over the next year once I got a weekend job. From that point on I was a drinker. Pubs were where I went, playing pool and darts and chugging back booze. In my late 30s I hit the point of having a few blackouts from booze – around about the time Stella Artois and Diamond White arrived. When I hooked up with Caroline, pubs ceased to be so interesting, but the boozing continued at a lower level at home. It increased again when I entered the publishing world and my first editor introduced me to good red wines. But I drank everything: bottles of whisky, gin and tonics at one time out of pint glasses, sherry, craft beers – name it and I’ve drunk it. When we got our place on Crete even more drinking kicked in: chilled white wines, Metaxa, raki included with all the above.

This continued for a few years but, as with smoking, I was starting to feel the negative effects. With smoking I started with unfiltered roll-ups, moved to filtered when I started to get chest pains in my 30s, then in my 40s tried giving up or delaying the first cigarette with NRT when the pains returned. By the time I was in my fifties I was using inhalers often and perpetually fighting to stop. All change occurred when Caroline got ill and died. We found ecigs and were quitting – a hiccup in that occurring while she was dying. After that I went back on ecigs pretty much full time – barring occasional depressive episodes. The drink I stopped directly after the cremation because it seriously exacerbated depression and anxiety. I started walking then to ameliorate that too – going from a few miles a day to 7 or 8 miles a day. In that first year I walked over 3,000 miles. 

As the depression and anxiety faded, the booze oozed back. A year and a half after the death, I experienced ‘delayed onset grief’ and stopped it again. This finally passed and I went back to it but at a fairly low level. I was also doing a lot for my health. I was still walking a lot, I started weight training, on Crete I would often swim for miles over a week and I took up ocean kayaking and now, in the summer, do 10Km every day. I experimented with fasting, fisetin megadosing, nootropics and supplements. For three years I stopped going to Crete and during that time had a non-drinking girlfriend so pretty much stopped then too. Returning again, I started sliding back into my old habits. I knew now it was stupid; that the hangovers were getting longer and that I certainly must be damaging my body. It was ridiculous that I was doing so much good for my health then screwing it with this one habit. 

For the last couple of years I recorded how much I drank and frowned at the result in my journal. It was pretty much constant – periods of more than a week sober being rare. This year, in the middle of last month, I went out on the kayak then came back and had a beer. I didn’t enjoy it – in fact for some time my enjoyment of it had been diminishing. Instead of beer I next had a glass of red wine because, well, that’s what drinkers do. This then proceeded into three half-litre carafes of wine. Over the next three days I felt like shit: depressed and anxious, acid stomach, no motivation etc. And once again I laughed hollowly at my ‘never again’ attitude. However, this time it stuck. I recorded the days of zero alcohol. A week later I had a severe stomach upset – 3 days of diarrhoea lost me 5 kilos of weight. Everyone said it was a bug but, reading up on this, I discover an interesting fact. You perpetually damage your guts with alcohol. When you stop they start healing and this can result in precisely what I had. For a few days I had periods of low mood at about the time I would usually have had a drink. That passed and I just kept stacking up the days.

One thing that had been holding me back from doing this was that I kayaked from a beach bar – Revans. What would I drink there? Fruit juice is bad for you and I had convinced myself that it was equivalent to drinking beer in terms of negative effects. This was bollocks, as I was soon to learn. I drink melon juice, cold coffee, orange juice and soda water. The visit to my favourite restaurant the Gabbiano worried me, but turned out to be fine: I drank water. I also learned that Marco – the guy who serves the booze – hasn’t touched it in years. Today, I will be writing in my journal ’52 days zero alcohol’, and now it’s time to talk about the results of that.

Last year I got incredibly itchy skin on my arms and shoulders – an itch so intense I could have stuck a knife in it to make it go away. This year it had started again. I of course researched this and connected it with sun damage and maybe pinched nerves in my back from kayaking. Funny how we delude ourselves. After a week of no booze it went away and has not returned. Pretty obvious really, the itchy skin liver connection. I also used to get a lot of spots on my back and shoulders. They have faded away. I often suffered from a bloated belly. It’s all but disappeared. I often suffered with insomnia and would wake in the early hours of the morning, then struggle to get some more sleep after being up for an hour or two. That’s stopped. I sleep for six to seven hours straight through. Frequent urination as of a prostate problem has gone away too. I’ve got my shit together. Sorry, it is what it is: clear distinct turds in the toilet bowl water rather than dissolving cow pats. I have more energy, every day.

Other effects have been on mood. Anxiety and depression have been with me for years. I would have periods of low mood and low motivation I normally cracked with exercise. They still occur but are less frequent now. Anxiety always took an opportunity to rise. Just doing my accounts and dealing with mail from my accountant would bring it up along with a reluctance to face doing what needed to be done. This is simply disappearing. I just get on with things and have gained perspective on it all. Why the fuck am I worrying about paying more tax and getting involved in more tax complications when they’re actually the result of me earning more and more year on year? My thinking is a lot clearer. This is also having an effect on the writing, on learning Greek, on dealing with shit. I’m writing more, I’m learning more, I feel like I’m making progress and not spending time alleviating the pain of existence. I feel a lot stronger both physically and mentally.

Of course now I must do the ‘however’ though it is probably not the one you would expect. In some respects here correlation is not causation. When I didn’t like that beer in Revans and when I stopped after those three carafes of wine, was I already undergoing the mental changes I detail above? I’ve been watching self-motivation/lifestyle videos on You Tube as a result of dissatisfaction with my life as it is. Maybe a portion of the mood effects are connected to that – not all of them. Maybe the time for change had simply arrived. But I cannot deny the physical effects. 

Anyway, I will continue. I am not going to bang the temperance tambourine and say I’m never drinking again. I’ll just say that I am a work in progress.